The 10 Best Acts to See at iFest's Second Weekend
Photos courtesy of Houston International Festival
Asleep at the Wheel Ray Benson's Wheel has been rolling for more than 40 years now, quietly becoming quite a finishing school for many of the state's top country and swing musicians. Meanwhile, their impossibly tall front man has developed into the leading ambassador of Lone Star culture around the globe.
Earlier this year Benson actually stepped outside the Wheel and released a rare solo album, A Little Piece, a reminder that underneath the raconteur, TV personality, businessman and unofficial mayor of Austin, he's still a musician at heart, and one who's a worthy heir to Bob Wills and Count Basie to boot. Really, really big boots. (Bud Light World Stage, 6:30 p.m. Sunday) CHRIS GRAY
Black Queen Speaks If you're looking for some serious rock at iFest, Black Queen's got you covered. Houston's Black Queen Speaks pull the best parts of rock, blues, and funk -- dirty power chords, soulful bass lines, gritty guitars -- and stitch them together with powerful, raw vocals. Just please don't wear any leather or whatever in honor of the show, or you'll remember why you don't venture outdoors past March in Houston. (BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press, 7 p.m. Saturday) ANGELICA LEICHT
Archie Bell Nobody has ever questioned where Archie Bell was from ever since he introduced himself with, "Hi everybody, we're Archie Bell & the Drells from Houston, Texas" on 1968's "Tighten Up," a delightful little morsel of chart-topping pop-soul that did more than its share to help shake the country out of its Vietnam-era funk. Originally inspired by the likes of Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke, Bell's repertoire has steadily grown bluesier over the years, and he's even cut a country tune or two, but he's never lost that beaming charisma that permeates songs like "I Just Can't Stop Dancing." Stepping in for the Drells Sunday will be the irrepressible Allen Oldies Band, who also dance as good as they walk. (Bud Light World Stage, 2:30 p.m. Saturday) CHRIS GRAY
Charles Bradley Charles Bradley is everything a leading man should be. He's got soul, rhythm, passion and a voice that could make you weak in the knees. What's most fascinating about him, however, is that he didn't get started in music until he was 51, when he founded the Menahan Street Band. But this Saturday, Bradley will command the attention he rightfully deserves. Forget scheduling conflicts -- drop everything and make sure you catch him while he's in town. (Bud Light World Stage, 4:15 p.m. Saturday) ALYSSA DUPREE
Electric Attitude Electric Attitude works the same retro-R&B grooves as Houston's wildly popular A Fistful of Soul DJ nights, but with far too much hard-rock edge to be a dance craze for people in their early twenties. Last year the septet released first full-length LP, Skintight & Solid Gold, a true mission statement that is cinematic and uncompromisingly funky. (BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press, 1 p.m. Saturday) CHRIS GRAY
Trudy Lynn Probably better known abroad than in her hometown, last year Fifth Ward native Trudy Lynn did Houston proud with Royal Oaks Blues Cafe, an 11-song set of high-spirited R&B that goes from the high-class joints to the honky-tonks in style. Whether forthright ("Confessin' the Blues"), seething ("Every Side of Lonesome") or ribald ("Whip It Into Jelly"), Miss Lynn is never half-assed. Best listen to what she says. (Bud Light World Stage, 12 p.m. Saturday) CHRIS GRAY
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Craig Morrison Despite comparisons to fellow Aussie Keith Urban, the other Aussie country artist, Craig Morrison is much more interesting than the average canned "new country" sound. As much a songwriter as he is a performer, Morrison layers his energetic tunes are layered with a hint of that outback accent, which only sweetens the deal. He's already made big waves in Australia, and now that he splits his time between Sydney and Nashville, it won't be long before he's playing on stages way bigger than this one. (Bud Light World Stage, 2:30 p.m. Saturday/Coopers Down Under Pub, 4:30 p.m. Sunday) ANGELICA LEICHT
Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws play zydeco the Texas way. Rideau, a native of LaBeau, La., has been a Houston resident since the early '80s, but grew up on a strict diet of Creole folk and zydeco in his hometown. The Outlaws pull from zydeco's southern Louisiana roots, with poppy, danceable beats and funky accordion riffs, but throw in some Houston flavor every so often, with Rideau switching from Creole French vocals to rap and blues. We can't guarantee your dancing will follow suit, but you should at least give it a try. We promise not to laugh too hard. (BHP Billiton Center Stage, 4:30 p.m. Sunday) ANGELICA LEICHT
Dustin Prinz With a style that incorporates rhythmic guitar picking, Dustin Prinz's folk-inspired solo work is comparable to the likes of City & Colour's Dallas Green, with song structures that are sometimes reminescent to the Dodos. But whether he's working his way through melodic song-structures or showing off some dizzying fingerwork, the only certain thing about Prinz is his ability to surprise. (Coopers Down Under Pub, 4 p.m. Saturday) ALYSSA DUPREE
Two Tons of Steel Though their sound cannot easily be pinned down, Two Tons of Steel represent Texas perfectly with their ability to dance between country, rockabilly and alternative. It's certain that this San Antonio group's Texas swing will keep you dancing well into the evening, making it that much harder to find the willpower to return to work on Monday. Grab a partner and kick up some dirt before the sun sets. (Bud Light World Stage, 4:15 p.m. Sunday) ALYSSA DUPREE
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