The Austin City Limits Music Festival will be here in a little more than a month, and Team 360 is digging into the lineup. For each week leading up to the festival, which takes over Zilker Park Oct. 2-4 and Oct. 8-10, we’ll present a mini-mix, a set of songs from festival acts, arranged around a theme.
This week’s playlist ventures to The Edge of Country, with a handful of artists who may not be all over country radio but are clearly digging into the roots of the genre even as they push its boundaries toward new horizons.
Dwight Yoakam, “Man of Constant Sorrow.” A country maverick since topping the charts with his fresh take on old-school honky-tonk and in the mid-1980s, Yoakam showed he’s still going strong with this year’s “Second Hand Heart.” One of the most enjoyable takes on the new album is his revved-up version of the classic “Man of Constant Sorrow” that resurfaced with the 2000 “O Brother, Where Art Thou” phenomenon. (7:30 p.m. Sunday, Austin Ventures stage)
Sturgill Simpson, “Turtles All the Way Down.” The coolest rising star in country music in years (with the possible exception of Jason Isbell’s chart-topping feat this summer), Simpson pushes his Kentucky bluegrass roots toward technicolor pastures on this fascinating juxtaposition of traditional and psychedelic sounds and themes. (4:30 p.m. Saturday, Honda stage)
Rhiannon Giddens, “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind.” Already a Grammy winner with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens stepped out on her own this year with the spectacular T Bone Burnett-produced album “Tomorrow Is My Turn.” Her soaring yet deeply rooted vocal style shines on this Dolly Parton song. (6 p.m. Friday, Tito’s/Zilker stage)
Mandolin Orange, “Little Worlds.” At their heart, this North Carolina duo is more folk than country, but those roots are intertwined in music that depends heavily on an acoustic mix of guitar, fiddle and mandolin. Mostly it’s the harmony vocal match of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz that sets apart gorgeous original songs such as this one from their new disc “Such Jubilee.” (12:45 p.m. Sunday, Weekend Two only, BMI stage)
American Aquarium, “Harmless Sparks.” Also from North Carolina, this hard-touring outfit has a fair bit in common with their red-dirt country brethren in Texas and Oklahoma, though their audience crosses into the indie-rock realm as well. Hard-core college basketball fans, they recently took part in a March Madness bracket-style game for fans to choose their best songs; we like this scrappy six-seed from their Jason Isbell-produced 2012 album. (12:15 p.m. Friday, Weekend One only, BMI stage)
Rayland Baxter, “Driveway Melody.” Son of the great steel player Bucky Baxter, Rayland is coming into his own as a roots-based singer-songwriter with his new ATO Records disc “Imaginary Man.” On this cut from 2012’s “Feathers & Fishhooks,” he shows his clear facility with easygoing folk-rock songcraft. (6:30 p.m. Saturday, Weekend One only, BMI stage)
William Clark Green, “Sticks and Stones.” A rising star on the Texas roadhouse circuit, Green hit a new high with this year’s “Ringling Road” album. The material ranges from instantly appealing upbeat rockers such as this track to more straightforward country ballads as well as bluesy material. (12:30 p.m. Saturday, Weekend One only, Austin Ventures stage)
Whiskey Myers, “Dogwood.” The East Texas band heads more toward hard-rock territory than many of its Lone Star red-dirt peers, but there’s still a lot of country twang in songs such as this cut from their 2014 album “Early Morning Shakes.” (11:30 a.m. Friday, Weekend Two only, Miller Lite stage)
Asleep at the Wheel, “Miles and Miles of Texas.” As much as ACL Fest seeks to change up its roster every year, one gracious constant since the first year has been an appearance by Austin’s keepers of the western swing flame. When they play their signature tune, the long acres of Zilker Park seem to stretch across miles and miles of Texas. (12:15 p.m. Friday, Honda stage)[spotify id="spotify:user:austin360:playlist:225VbK29o9I0wjWiF1ZkGJ" width="300" height="380" /]