Justin Townes Earle was recognized twice by the Americana Music Awards, for New and Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009 and Song of the Year category for "Harlem River Blues" in 2011. His latest album, Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, is a heartfelt composition of Memphis-soul singing steeped in soft horns, twangy guitar chords and deep bass lines to create a warm slice of Americana.
Due to illness, unfortunately, Liane La Havas is not going to be to perform today. Artist to Watch in August 2012, past opener for John Legend and Bon Iver, and nominee for BBC’s Sound of 2012, 22-year-old Lianne La Havas is truly a force to be reckoned with. Her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? blends soul, jazz, and folk into one amazingly gorgeous album. With her numerous performances and frequent plays on XPN, listeners have quickly fallen in love with Lianne’s sultry and beautifully original style of performance, stellar vocal range and distinct guitar work.
A festival veteran and April 2010’s Artist To Watch, Dawes will be captivating audiences at XPoNential once again with driving beats and lively presence. Their new release, Stories Don’t End is another collection of excellent songs featuring the storytelling and songwriting work of lead singer Taylor Goldsmith.
Even with so many new folk artists on the scene, it’s no wonder Lancaster natives The Stray Birds are making a name for themselves with outstanding songwriting that soars in three-part harmony. Their debut album received high praise from NPR, and XPN’s The Key Studio Session captured their traditional-yet-unique music and intimate performance style.
This seven piece ensemble from Chesapeake, Virginia boasts a unique blend of southern folk and classical influence, self categorized as “mountain-top chamber.” The Last Bison played for XPN listeners on World Cafe back in January and remain a staple on the airwaves.
Lord Huron’s unique style of indie pop shines through on the group’s most recent release, Lonesome Dreams. The group started as a solo-project by lead singer Ben Schneider, and was featured on World Cafe and as the Artist to Watch in October of 2012.
Out of the many artists coming out of the folk revival woodwork, Trampled By Turtles stands out with true bluegrass worship, alternative hooks and four-part harmonies that wake up your eardrums. The Duluth, MN band’s sixth album no doubt an incredible compilation of which Paste Magazine most astutely writes has “rambling jams that exceed the speed limit to show the members’ white-knuckle picking skills.”
XPN listeners heard the John Butler Trio when the band was our Artist to Watch March 2005, and their 2007 album Grand National from Atlantic Records was featured by XPN’s Dan Reed. The trio was formed in Freemantle, Australia in 1998, and after more than ten years of gold and platinum albums, the Trio will be rocking audiences with its bluegrass-inspired alternative rock at this year’s festival.
In 2012, XPN listeners heard Michael Kiwanuka on World Cafe in April, as the June Artist to Watch, as July’s CD of the Month, at a Free at Noon, and at a show at the Trocadero. His first album showcases his voice, a voice that he describes as “hitting straight to the core,” and his “real, raw, and achingly beautiful” lyricism.
Artist to Watch in April 2012 and an instant hit at last year's festival, this Denver five-piece has rocketed from playing small venues to being a co-headliner at the SBC Stage this year. Their music features an eclectic mix of acoustic rock, classic pop, and folk styles all rolled into one intriguing sound, creating a listening experience that is both familiar and completely unique.
Read the Review and Check Out Saturday's Photos
Check out photos from their sets, as well as openers Hey Marseilles and Polica, in the gallery on TheKey.XPN.org.