TheBlueIndian.com’s “8 Bands of Wakarusa 2012”

Kids These Days - Charles Nolis Anderson

The time has nearly come for Wakarusa, a festival in Ozark, Arkansas, that we have been looking forward to for months and months (honestly, since last year when we realized we couldn’t make it). For me, it’s going to be not only a long-awaited festival experience, but a homecoming of sorts since my parents made their first home in a cabin not too far from Ozark and began traveling the area as revivalists over 40 years ago. I have an ambition to sneak away from the festival grounds and try and track it down but I’ve got a good feeling there’s not going to be any time for that. With a lineup over over 100 artists confirmed for the 4 day event, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. A lineup this large can pose some tough choices that can have your and your crew arguing in the campsite over who’s going where and might cost you the best set of the weekend. I’ve gone through and picked out “8 Bands of Wakarusa 2012” that I would recommend you see. Obviously, you’re going to be familiar with the co-headlining acts so these are some up-and-comers you might not be aquainted with yet. Some of them I’ve seen before, but for the most part these are first-timers for TheBlueIndian.com folks. I hope you enjoy and let us know if we’ll see you there (Thursday, May 31st – Sunday, June 3rd)

Kids These Days – 5/31- 5:45PM @ Revival Tent

This larger-than-life Chicago based 7-piece has been showing up on festival stages all around the counry for the past few years. Combine the staccato spurt of rapper Vic Mensa with the cheerful alternating melodies from Macie Stewart and Liam Cunningham and add the most appropriately peculiar touch of New Orleans’ jazz, an obvious Broadway influence, all made possible by a talented group of percussionists and horns and you’ve got what might be the most unique sound I’ve heard in a while. Far more often than not does it seem like bands will attempt to combine a vast variety of influences and genres and create music that sounds messy and poorly put together but Kids These Days have created something beautiful that they want to share with you.

 

Rubblebucket – 5/31 – 7:15PM @ Revival Tent & 6/1 – 5:30PM @ Outpost

I came across this group last year when friends went to see them at Grace Potter’s festival and recommended them to me. A few months later, I finally saw them live at Bear Creek and next thing I knew, they were playing a show in Macon for TheBlueIndian.com. Oddly enough, the day of their Macon show, they wound getting in what was nearly a very severe accident and things started to run amuck. We were able to take care of them, the show went on and the crowd of 70 or 80 that gathered at the theatre was treated to one of the best shows Macon has hosted in a while. Despite everything that went wrong, this Brooklyn-via-Vermont troupe held nothing back as they brought out giant manned robots, glowing vests and synchronized dance moves. It would be selling them short if I only mentioned their eye-catching stage antics…These guys (and gal) are pleasantly technical and give your senses a much needed work over.

 

The Delta Saints – 6/1 – 6:15PM @ George’s Majestic Backwoods

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, this 5-piece has mixed up their own brand of Southern-rock that’s inspired by bits of funk, soul and pop, and have been taking the States by storm. Their down-home grit is complimented perfectly by refined, driving choruses and rhythms that groove and bounce from one song to the next. I’m going to say that this is definitely one of your last chances to see them on a stage this size this year because there is little holding them back.

 

The Devil Makes Three – 6/1 – 6:00PM @ Revival Tent

A festival set in the Ozarks would be incomplete with out some banjo here and there (granted, The Avetts are playing) and The Devil Makes Three are sure to please. Their brand of folk-grass has found them opening tours for Gorgol Bordello and Flogging Molly and landed them on stage at Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, High Sierra, AllGood and many more. While putting a “punk perspective on vintage American blues”, they’re going to find plenty of fans at Wakarusa.

 

The Secret Sisters – 6/2 – 1:30PM @ George’s Majestic Backwoods

After seeing that legendary producer T Bone Burnett had produced this Muscle Shoals, Alabamda duo‘s debut album, I was immediately drawn in. T Bone, a former band mate of Bob Dylan, has produced the likes of Counting Crows, Elton John & Leon Russell, The Wallflowers, Robert Plant and many more. The fact that he felt these sisters had something special has got to mean something. The two girls have drawn comparisons to Emmy Lou Harris, Doc Watson and Patsy Cline but they’ve got a sound that’s still their own. It’s almost a surprise that Jenny Lewis hasn’t worked with these two yet…

 

Futurebirds – 6/2 – 7:45PM @ George’s Majestic Backwoods

It goes without saying that Athens, Georgia has produced some of the most dynamic and provocative bands in American music, whether international stars or local favorites. From the days of REM, Vic Chesnutt and Flat Duo Jets to the wave of folk-pop fronted by Neutral Milk Hotel to the current surge of electronic-based dance groups, the city always has something unique to offer. Yes, Futurebirds has that “Athens sound” but they’ve earned the right to not be lumped into one category. Their relentless touring schedule and hard work has paid off, as they were taken on tour by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Widespread Panic in the past year and continue to pop up at festivals across the county.

 

Balkan Beat Box – 6/2 – 12:30AM @ Outpost & 1:30PM @ Main Stage

Adding a huge helping of international flavor, Balkan Beat Box brings their electro-gypsy-funk sounds to the hills of Arkansas for what should be one of the rowdiest performances of the weekend. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, this 3-piece expands to up to 8 people during their live shows. BBB is strongly influenced by traditional dancehall beats, Jamaican dub and klezmer tunes, all mixed up with synth and horn fueled melodies. I briefly remember seeing them at Lollapalooza 2010 and the crowd was primal. Flags, banners, costumes and every color in the spectrum are a part of their show. Make sure to put on your comfy shoes or don’t wear any at all because you won’t be standing still.

 

Tinariwen – 6/2 – 6:30PM @ Revival Tent & 6/3 – 2:45PM @ Revival Tent

If you’re a die-hard Stephen Colbert fan then you were probably curious about the group that members of TV on The Radio were performing with last November. Tinariwen easily stands out as the most traveled and time tested group of the Wakarusa 2012 line up. Originating in 1979 in refugee camps in Libya, the group has since changed homes multiple times due to conflict/cease-conflict throughout Africa. After gaining notoriety throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, they eventually made the jump over to the States in 2001 and haven’t lost steam since. After winning “Best World Music Album” at the 54th Grammy’s, the band has continued to win over crowds with their compelling story and time tested sound

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