2021 Main Stage Schedule
June 11 Jun 11
With her fourth album, Undercurrent, Sarah Jarosz makes a studied departure from her previous records, shifting the emphasis from her skills as a multi-instrumentalist to her songwriting and vocal performance. Undercurrent accentuates the growth and maturity that Jarosz, now 25, has achieved since graduating from New England Conservatory and moving to New York City. The change in approach garnered Jarosz two Grammy Awards in 2017—Best Folk Album for Undercurrent and Best American Roots Performance for “House Of Mercy.” Undercurrent also picked up the award for 2017 Album of the Year from Folk Alliance International.
On Undercurrent, Jarosz delivers a set of all-original songs, centered around four solo pieces that set the tone of the record. The Wall Street Journal notes “This economical approach brings the listener closer to Ms. Jarosz than on any of her previous recordings, and it suits the lyrical theme of passion that, mostly, is forbidden and unrequited.”
The Austin Chronicle’s Jim Caligiuri declared “For Austinites who’ve followed her since her early teens, the fact that Wimberley native Sarah Jarosz blossomed into one of the most stirring musicians of her generation comes as absolutely no surprise,” while NPR’s Katie Presley made note of Jarosz’s newfound maturity, praising her “uncharacteristically (and deliciously) unyielding” vocal carriage.
Jarosz continues to make frequent appearances on the new Chris Thile-hosted “Live From Here” (formerly A Prairie Home Companion). In 2018, she will tour extensively in support of See You Around, the debut release from her band I’m With Her with Sara Watkins & Aoife O’Donovan.
June 13 Jun 13
Everybody in your life will write his or her own chapter in your story. Take a step back, and you’ll see the influence of your loved ones, mentors, and friends in your decisions. Shook Twins refer to these folks in the title of their fourth album, Some Good Lives. Throughout fourteen tracks, the duo—identical twin sisters Katelyn Shook [vocals, guitar] and Laurie Shook [banjo, vocals]—pay homage to everyone from a late grandpa and godfather to Bernie Sanders.
“We realized there was a theme,” Katelyn reveals. “Even though our minds are mostly on the women of today and wanting the monarchy to rise up, we have several men in our lives who have been such positive forces. We wanted to thank them and honor the good guys who showed us the beauty in this crazy world we live in. So, it’s an album for Some Good Lives that have crossed paths with ours—and to them, we are grateful.”
Laurie agrees, “It’s also an acknowledgment of our thankfulness of the good life that we get to live.”
Pegged as “one of Country music’s most enviable brands, equal parts affability and authenticity”(Forbes), Bentley continues to be a dominant voice for the genre with over 6.4 billion overall digital streams. Reaching a new creative high while “making music designed to challenge” (New York Times), Bentley co-wrote 10 of 13 tracks on THE MOUNTAIN, which earned him the highest debut sales of his career and became his seventh chart-topping album. Bentley has amassed countless nominations from the ACMs, CMAs, Billboard Music Awards, and GRAMMYs while being currently nominated for CMA“Male Vocalist of the Year,” “Single of the Year” and “Music Video of the Year.” He has created professional endeavors outside of the music industry by not only creating a lifestyle collection but also four “Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row” locations across the country as well.
June 19 Jun 19
Described by Spin as “one of the greatest living voices in rock today,” and by SF Weekly as “the whole package,” Grace Potter continues to impress both critics and audiences with her musical achievements and captivating live shows.
Heralded as one of today’s best live performers, Grace Potter has played every major music festival from Coachella and Lollapalooza to Bonnaroo and Rock in Rio. She’s had the honor of sharing the stage with artists such as The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, The Allman Brothers Band, Neil Young, Mavis Staples, and The Roots to name just a few. Most recently, she was given the honor of performing, along with Sheryl Crow, a tribute to the late Glenn Frey at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. For an artist who has built a devoted fan base through her electrifying live show, Potter seems hell-bent on breaking out of the box when it comes to studio work. She refuses to be defined by a single genre. Over the last three years, she has seamlessly transitioned from collaborating with the Flaming Lips for a Tim Burton film, to songwriting and producing for soundtracks and theme songs for film and TV, to multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated country duets with her friend Kenny Chesney, to most recently joining The Rolling Stones on stage for an inspired rendition of “Gimme Shelter.” In late 2015, at the invitation of First Lady Michelle Obama and TV host Conan O’Brien, Grace performed for the troops in Qatar (where she was joined on stage by the guitar-playing O’Brien).
In the fall of 2015, Grace was honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, her home state of Vermont’s highest honor in the creative sector. Earlier in 2015 Potter was also honored with the ASCAP Harry Chapin Vanguard Award by WhyHunger for her work with several charitable organizations. On August 14th, 2015, Grace released her critically acclaimed solo album, Midnight, to a #17 debut on the Billboard 200 chart.
Midnight was recorded and mixed at Barefoot Studios in Hollywood, CA, with producer Eric Valentine. The core studio band consisted of Potter and Valentine on most of the instruments, with Matt Burr on drums and percussion. Additional contributions came from guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco and bassist Michael Libramento, as well as former tourmates and friends singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter, Audra Mae, Noelle Skaggs of Fitz & the Tantrums, and Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age.
“This album is about embracing life as it comes at you–with all its unexpected twists and turns,” says Potter. “I’ve experienced a huge amount of growth and change in the past two years–both personal and professional, and it can be overwhelming for an artist to find ways to express that in a vacuum. So I tried to strip away the confines of other people’s expectations. I started tapping into some of the deep-running themes that have shaped me into the human I’ve become, and as I went deeper and deeper, I found the results to be insanely satisfying.”
Citing Miles Davis, Dylan, The Beatles, Bowie, Blondie and Beck as prime examples, Potter says she is drawn to artists who make sonic leaps from record to record—a notion she has explored throughout her career.
Potter has released four other studio albums through major label Hollywood Records: 2006’s Nothing But The Water, 2007’s This is Somewhere, 2010’s self-titled album and 2012’s The Lion The Beast The Beat, with the latter two both debuting Top 20 in the U.S. In 2010, Potter was featured on Kenny Chesney’s Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling hit, “You and Tequila,” and his 2015 hit, “Wild Child,” which also achieved #1 status on the (Billboard) Country chart.
June 20 Jun 20
“I’M THE MESSENGER,” MAVIS STAPLES SAYS ON THE EVE OF HER 80TH BIRTHDAY. “THAT’S MY JOB—IT HAS BEEN FOR MY WHOLE LIFE—AND I CAN’T JUST GIVE UP WHILE THE STRUGGLE’S STILL ALIVE. WE’VE GOT MORE WORK TO DO, SO I’M GOING TO KEEP ON GETTING STRONGER AND KEEP ON DELIVERING MY MESSAGE EVERY SINGLE DAY.”
That message—a clarion call to love, to faith, to justice, to brotherhood, to joy—lies at the heart of ‘We Get By,’ Staples’ spectacular twelfth studio album and first full-length collaboration with multi-GRAMMY Award-winner Ben Harper. Backed by her longtime touring band, Staples breathes extraordinary life into Harper’s compositions on the record, delivering roof-raising performances with both a youthful vigor and a commanding maturity. The arrangements here are spare but weighty, matched by Harper’s suitably lean and thoughtful production, and Staples seizes the opportunity to showcase her remarkable and continued evolution as an artist, one still growing and exploring more than half a century into her storied career. ‘We Get By’ is undoubtedly a timely collection, arriving such as it does in the face of deep social divisions and heightened political tensions, but like everything Staples touches, it’s also larger than any particular moment, a timeless appeal to the better angels of our nature that’s universal in its reach and unwavering in its assurance of better things to come.
“When I first started reading the lyrics Ben wrote for me, I said to myself, ‘My God, he’s saying everything that needs to be said right now,’” Staples remembers. “But the songs were also true to my journey and the stories I’ve been singing all my life. There’s a spirituality and an honesty to Ben’s writing that took me back to church.”
Hailed by NPR as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” Staples is the kind of once-in-a-generation artist whose impact on music and culture would be difficult to overstate. She’s both a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; a civil rights icon; a GRAMMY Award-winner; a chart-topping soul/gospel/R&B pioneer; a National Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient; and a Kennedy Center honoree. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and sang in Barack Obama’s White House. She’s collaborated with everyone from Prince and Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire and Hozier, blown away countless festivalgoers from Newport Folk and Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, performed with The Band at The Last Waltz, and graced the airwaves on Fallon, Colbert, Ellen, Austin City Limits, Jools Holland, the GRAMMYs, and more. At a time when most artists begin to wind down, Staples ramped things up, releasing a trio of critically acclaimed albums in her 70’s with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy that prompted Pitchfork to rave that “her voice has only gained texture and power over the years” and People to proclaim that she “provides the comfort of a higher power.” In between records with Tweedy, Staples teamed up with a slew of other younger artists—Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Valerie June, tUnE-yArDs, and M. Ward among others—for ‘Livin’ On A High Note,’ an album The Boston Globe called “stunningly fresh and cutting edge” and which first introduced her to Harper.
“Ben wrote a song for that album called “Love and Trust,’” explains Staples. “When he said he that he wanted to produce me, I told him, ‘Well shucks, if you write another song like that, count me in.’”
Harper did more than write just another song, instead penning an entire album of emotionally riveting and spiritually uplifting tracks that hit Staples directly in the heart. The tunes fit her like a glove—due in no small part to the decades Harper spent listening to Staples’s music, both with The Staple Singers and as a solo artist—and Staples found herself fighting back tears as she fell in love with the beauty and sincerity of those early stripped down demos.
“I come from a family of Mavis fans,” explains Harper, “so her music has been woven into the fabric of my life from the very start. When I got the call for this gig, it felt like my entire career, everything I’d ever written, had been pre-production for this.”
Leading up to the recording sessions, Harper sat in the audience for several of Staples’ concerts, approaching her performances now as a student more than a fan. As brilliant as Staples’ studio output was over the years, Harper came to understand the stage as her home and her touring band as her family, and capturing as much of that spirit as possible seemed like the obvious approach for ‘We Get By.’
“There’s so much soul and Muscle Shoals in that band,” explains Harper. “They’ve got a specific chemistry that I recognized instantly. When you have a guitar player like Rick Holmstrom, a bass player like Jeff Turmes, a drummer like Stephen Hodges, and a vocalist like Donny Gerrard all supporting the voice of the century, why would you ever want to go outside of that foundation?”
With Harper at the helm, the band recorded everything live at Henson Studio in Hollywood, CA, capturing the kind of powerhouse energy and deep pocket grooves that have come to define Staples’ legendary concerts. While Harper had a distinct vision for the sound of the record, he purposely kept his demos to skeletal sketches, leaving space for Mavis and the band to interpret and give flight to his songs in the inimitable way that only they could.
“The more I’ve produced over the years, the more I’ve heightened my sensitivity to what different artists require,” reflects Harper. “Every artist and every album is different. With Mavis, sometimes the most important thing you can do is press record and just get the hell out of the way.”
The record opens with the stirring “Change,” which finds Staples proclaiming, “Say it loud say it clear / Gotta change around here” over a simmering, fuzzed-out guitar line. It’s a song focused as much internally as it is externally, and after one listen, it’s plain to see why Staples and Harper referred to the studio’s vocal booth as the “prayer room.” Staples’ performance is hypnotic, holy even, restrained in its delivery but relentless in its urgency, and it lays the groundwork for an album that insists on joy and communal celebration without pulling any punches or sugarcoating any ugly truths. The funky “Anytime” looks fearlessly to the future, while the rousing “Brothers and Sisters” is a call for action in the face of injustice, and the gritty “Stronger” promises there’s no power in this world greater than our love for one another.
It’s impossible to listen to a voice like Staples’ without contemplating all she’s been through in her life—the album cover features a heartrending Gordon Parks photo that speaks to the casual cruelty of racial segregation in 1950’s Alabama—but it only serves to make her optimism and resilience that much more inspiring and contagious. There is darkness and doubt on the album to be sure (the spirit of Pops Staples informs the mournful “Heavy On My Mind,” which recognizes that some wounds never heal, while the poignant “Never Needed Anyone” stings with the pain of lingering regret) but it’s consistently overpowered by hope and conviction. “Been holding on too long to let go / Running too hard to slow down / Believing too deep to not have faith,” Staples confesses on the soulful “One More Change To Make.” In that sense, the album’s title is more than just an observation. When Staples and Harper join forces to sing “We Get By,” it’s a prayer, a promise, an invitation.
“I sing because I want to leave people feeling better than I found them,” Staples concludes. “I want them to walk away with a positive message in their hearts, feeling stronger than they felt before. I’m singing to myself for those same reasons, too.”
Even the messenger needs a reminder every now and then.
Lineup and times are subject to change.