This year’s Double Decker Arts Festival features several regional performers as well as nationally-known headliners.
Kicking off this year’s event on Friday during the special Thacker Mountain Radio Show are:
Lilly Hiatt is an American, Nashville, Tennessee-based singer-songwriter and the daughter of singer-songwriter John Hiatt. Hiatt has played music since she was 12 years old when her father gave her her first guitar, a 1953 parlor-size Martin.
In 2005, Hiatt formed a band, Shake Go Home, in Denver with fellow students from University of Denver. In 2012, Hiatt released her debut album, “Let Down.” In 2015, Hiatt released her second album, “Royal Blue,” and in August 2017, she released her third album, “Trinity Lane.”
The record was produced by Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope, who is also performing at the Double Decer Festival on Saturday. The record’s title comes from a main street in East Nashville in Tennessee. Hiatt says that although the songs often have a dark subject matter, the record is “a rock-and-roller.”
Band members are John Condit on guitar, Robert Hudson on bass, and Allen Jones on drums.
Eric Gales, also known as Raw Dawg, is an American blues-rock guitarist, originally hailed as a child prodigy. As of 2019 Gales has recorded eighteen albums for major record labels and has done session and tribute work. He has also contributed vocals on several records by the Memphis rap groups Prophet Posse and Three 6 Mafia under the name Lil E.
Gales picked up the guitar at age 4. His older siblings, Eugene and Manuel (Little Jimmy King), taught him songs and licks when he was young, in the style of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, B.B. King and others. In 1985, the young Gales began to play at blues competitions with his brother Eugene backing him on bass. Although Gales plays a right-handed guitar “upside-down” (with the bass E string on the bottom), he is not naturally left-handed; he was taught by his brother, who is left-handed, and never second-guessed the untraditional technique.
In 2017, Gales released his latest and fifteenth studio effort, Middle of the Road, featuring numerous artists, including Gary Clark Jr., Lauryn Hill and others, as well as his own brother and mother. The album became his first to chart on ‘Billboards Top Blues Album chart, peaking at No. 4.
Performing Saturday at the festival are:
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Hailing from Green Hills, Alabama, Jason Isbell has spent a good few years of his music career as a solo artist. Cue the 400 Unit Isbell’s band from Muscle Shoals, AL.
Now on their third album together with “The Nashville Sound” and touring with stops like The Ryman, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit aren’t going anywhere. The latest 2017 album consists of 10 songs including a track titled “Tupelo.”
The Nashville Sound earned Isbell his first CMA Award nomination. It was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2017 ceremony and won Best Americana Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards and International Album of the Year at the 2018 UK Americana Awards. “If We Were Vampires” contemplates life and death throughout the song and won a Grammy for Best American Roots Song.
With Isbell’s lyrics of wisdom, heartache and humor and the band backing him, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are sure to strike you with fully relatable rhythms and song.
Shovels and Rope
Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst have both dipped into the music industry as solo artists.
Just a year after Trent released his solo album and 2 years after Hearst’s, the duo released their first album billed as “Shovels and Rope.” The American folk duo married in 2009 and are on to their 7th album together titled By Blood coming out April 12 of this year.
Listed as traditional folk, rock and roll and country rock, Shovels & Rope’s newer music gets personal. Their music takes their own hardship and life changes and puts them into song.
In 2013, Shovels and Rope was nominated for three awards by the Americana Music Association, of which they won: Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Birmingham.” In 2015 they were again nominated for Duo/Group of the year without a win. Being from Charleston, South Carolina the duo even briefly appeared in the Charleston episode of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Instruments played by the couple include guitar, drums, keyboard, percussion and harmonica.
The Memphis band Lucero’s music has been described as “distinctly Memphis,” which is a hard description to come by these days. Their alternative rock, alternative country and blues rock genres are what makes them uniquely Lucero. The group formed in 1998 and has gone through some changes but is currently made up by Ben Nichols, Roy Berry, John C. Stubblefield, Rick Steff and Brian Venable.
The year 2018 was good to them. They released their ninth studio album, Jim Strickland – the mayor of Memphis declared a “Lucero Day” at the band’s annual “Lucero Family Block Party” and co-headlined a show at the Red Rocks. Over the last 20 years of their existence, Lucero has played around 200 shows a year. Their latest album Among the Ghosts gives a roundabout insight to their nonstop touring, fears, loss, happiness and mortality in the past, present and future.
Durand Jones and the Indications
Durand Jones and the Indications Durand Jones, Blake Rhein, Aaron Frazer, Kyle Haupt and Justin Hubler formed as students in college.
Their music will make you forget its 2019 with their early 70s sounds.
Songs like “Can’t Keep My Cool” are the definition of “easy listening” and just three songs in, you’ll want to keep their album on repeat. The group met at Indiana University and has since expanded and changed in its lineup.
Emily King has been a professional musician for over 10 years. During those years, she released her debut LP and even earned herself a Grammy nomination for it.
Her song “Distance” off her 2015 album “The Switch” racked up over 13 million streams across platforms. Even though she was finding success through world tours with artists and groups like Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles, John Legend and Alabama Shakes, it wasn’t fulfilling her and she worried about her inspiration for The Switch’s follow up music.
For this inspiration used on her 2019 album “Scenery,” she needed a literal change of scenery. She took a leap and moved to upstate New York – a big change from her New York City hometown. Knowing of King’s anxiety of her next moves in music, her song “Look at Me Now” exemplifies how fresh air and a location change can do a lot of good.
Though she left the city, she will be returning; her family still lives in New York City. Her latest album makes for perfect driving music- whether you’re road tripping back home or on your way to a change of scenery.
Cedric Burnside, native Mississippian, has music in his blood. He was raised by his grandfather that was a singer, songwriter and guitarist. His father, Calvin Jackson, played the drums. With 8 albums under his belt, Burnside has earned one Grammy nomination and the Blues Music Awards honor as Drummer of the Year four years in a row.
Like many blues artists, he uses real-life events and heartache to write music. He says, “the blues is about surviving through those hard times, telling the world what you’ve been through and how you came out of it.” Many of his songs cover a range of emotions he has experienced through life.
Other successes worth noting include his collaboration and recordings with musicians Jimmy Buffett, Widespread Panic, North Mississippi Allstars and even Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Black Snake Moan.
Kate Teague is originally from Mobile, Alabama and currently resides in Oxford. You might also be familiar with her work as director and producer of Thacker Mountain Radio Hour.
She is a singer and songwriter that will make you close your eyes and sway along to her music. Teague’s song “Low Life” has strong Lana Del Ray vibes but is still distinctly her own.
For more information on Double Decker Arts Festival, visit www.doubledeckerfestival.com.
Photos and bios provided by Visit Oxford