The Nightowls – 8 p.m. Friday
The Nightowls is a 10-piece rhythm and blues band out of Austin, Texas, known for its unique blend of Motown, soul and Southern rock inspired by the classic sounds of Memphis. It has been making waves in the vibrant Austin music scene with its genre-bending sound, and has extended its reach beyond Texas.
The Nightowls’ first record, “Good as Gold” was released in 2014 to critical acclaim, making the Top 10 in the prestigious Austin Chronicle Music Awards. Since “Good as Gold,” the band has toured the country, and in the process, recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and more recently, Royal Studios in Memphis.
The group has toured the Southeast and even played in Oxford for Thacker Mountain Radio. These trips were monumental journeys for the group, according to lead signer Ryan Harkrider.
“You want to allow the environment, the journey, the pilgrimage, the history of the studio, the way the carpet smells… all of it, to inspire you. That’s why we drove thousands of miles to record in these places,” Harkrider said.
Harkrider said the latest record is “an expression of the band coming together.” The Nightowls’ performance at this year’s Double Decker will give the audience a chance to express themselves.
“We make it our goal to get the audience involved. Our mission is to connect,” Harkrider said. “All of us come from performance backgrounds, and we all dance, we clap our hands, we get the crowd involved. We want to create a moment that people forget everything else and have an experience.”
Riverside Voodoo – 10:15 a.m. Saturday
Local blues/funk band Riverside Voodoo has been making a name for itself in the Oxford music scene for three years now after its breakout performance opening for Moon Taxi at the Lyric in 2013. The band has since self-recorded two albums, “Riverside Voodoo” and “Metaphysical Seduction,” and its members have just completed writing their third.
In working on new music, the band has refined its collaborative songwriting process.
“We’ve really gotten into a groove with songwriting, just not trying to overdo anything and get songs written,” drummer Jonathan Peters said.
The group thrives on the freedom of live improvisation, and looks to use the Double Decker stage as another chance to impress new listeners and established fans alike.
“Everyone knows how much clout Double Decker gets,” Peters said. “We’re really excited. The early slot might not be the best, but people will be out there at 10 a.m. and we want to draw in a crowd.”
With new songs to perform, Double Decker will be a chance to convince a local label to carry Riverside Voodoo’s latest recordings.
Double Decker presents a storybook opportunity for the band to capitalize on this experience and propel the group to the next level.
Delta Springs – 11:30 a.m.
Delta Springs is a Southern punk rock fusion filled with distorted guitars, cleverly rounded bass lines and banging drums.
Though the four piece band– made up of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Sam Stevens, lead guitarist and backup vocalist Will Smith, bass player and backup vocalist Patrick Mink and drummer Watson Turnipseed– has played in bars all over the Oxford area, this is the first time playing the festival.
It all started many years ago when Smith, Stevens and Turnipseed were just cabin mates at a summer camp in Mentone, Alabama. Later, the trio met up at Ole Miss and spent time in an isolated cabin in Charleston, where they wrote songs and eventually formed the band. After a few jam sessions with Mink, they eventually decided to recruit the bassist as their fourth member.
In preparation for Double Decker, the band members are rehearsing multiple nights a week at Stevens’ house and picking out their set list according to how they think the atmosphere will be during the set. The group thrives in playing outside in the sun, and the song choices will reflect that.
But the band is also pumped to just be playing in the college town they know and love.
“We love the energy that college students bring,” Smith said. “One of the best feelings is being on stage and seeing the students jumping around and putting their hands in the air and hearing them sing along with our songs. Oxford has a great music scene and we’re honored to be a part of it.”
Leo Bud Welch – 1 p.m.
Leo Bud Welch, an 84-year-old blues rocker, has taken the world by storm. He released his debut album “Sabougla Voices” in January of 2014, and his sophomore album “I Don’t Prefer No Blues” in March of 2015. Recently he has spent time touring across North America, filming a documentary about his life, and in 2015 he made a cameo in the movie “Mississippi Grind” starring Ryan Reynolds.
Q: What is it like being a blues musician in your early 80s and being on tour? Have there been any bad experiences so far?
A: It feels like I am regaining my youth. Yes, one time I missed a flight in Chicago and we slept at the airport until the next morning.
Q: For your sophomore album, how did you go about writing music for it? Did you spend that year between records writing, or have you had these songs written collectively over the years?
A: I just went in the studio and recorded the record. Some were old songs but some were song I done on fly right there for the first time, like “Girl In The Holler” and “I Don’t Know That Woman Name” was written for the movie “Mississippi Grind.”
Q: You have an impressive and unique style of incorporating dominant rock melodies with complex guitar riffs, like in the songs “Goin’ Down Slow” and “Pray On” from “I Don’t Prefer No Blues.” Who or what would you say influenced you the most as far as the sound and style for each of your records?
A: My first cousin R.C. Welch, who taught me the basics when I was just 13 years old. I don’t try to be like anybody else. If I try to be like other folks there won’t be no Leo Bud Welch.
Q: You spent 35 years of your life logging in Northern Mississippi. I can’t imagine that being an easy or safe job. Were there any moments where you found yourself in a situation or in a moment where you thought you might lose your life?
A: Yeah loggin’ is dangerous, you have be careful. Trees are always trying to kill you when you’re cutting them the old way. One time I was bitten by a baby copperhead in the woods. I thought I was going to die from that, but the snake, after biting me, bit itself, and he died. I didn’t.
Christone Kingfish Ingram – 2:30 p.m.
At only 17 years old, Christone Kingfish Ingram is taking the blues world by storm one guitar chop at a time. He most recently blew minds at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi this past Saturday.
His sound is reminiscent of classic Delta blues musicians like Robert Johnson and B.B. King, but his sound should be cross-classified as rock-n-roll.
Known in short as “Kingfish,” he has been playing music since age 6, when he picked up his first drumsticks. At 9, he became proficient at the bass guitar, and at 14, he became a lead guitarist and singer, beginning his career as a touring artist. Fittingly, he was trained at the Delta Blues Museum.
His natural talent emanates from his guitar as his fingers move lightning-fast over the strings. His voice is one that is much more mature than should come from a 17-year-old. He knows how to excite a crowd with his music, and simply, his presence.
Kingfish’s talent can’t be found on Apple iTunes or Spotify, though he has performed at the Whitehouse for Michelle Obama. He is an act not to be missed at this year’s festival, as he is certainly headed to greatness– and fast.
The Bellfuries – 4 p.m.
The four-piece, Austin-based band The Bellfuries consists of lead singer Joey Simeone, bass player Jeff Seaver, drummer Chris Sensat and guitarist Mike Molnar. Although The Bellfuries was first formed in 1998 by Simeone, the “classic lineup,” as Molnar refers to the current band and its members, is just about three years old.
While the band has only been playing together for a short time, its sound is solidly cemented and well-defined. When asked about the type of music The Bellfuries play, the answer is simple.
“We play rock and roll,” Molnar said. “I try to call things by more or less correct names. Besides, rock and roll is a ‘big tent’ kind of scene. Louis Jordan, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Black Sabbath, I’d say, are all in the club. Very groovy.”
Listening to the latest album, “Workingman’s Bellfuries,” the presence of rock and roll is palpable, laced with a twang reminiscent of another time. The songs bring with them a sense of nostalgia in the best possible way.
Double Decker will be the first show The Bellfuries has performed in Oxford and the band is eager to give the crowd a good time.
Molnar’s description of playing his favorite song, “Beaumont Blues,” can probably give an accurate prediction of what the audience can expect from the band’s performance.
“It’s a little wild in places,” Molnar said. “Hell, it can get a little wooly.”
Orgone – 5:30 p.m.
An eclectic and passionate blend of deep soul, rare funk and afro-disco with just a hint of rock star edge, Orgone will bring a whole lot of grit and groove to the Double Decker music lineup.
“Our sound is born out of music with heart and attitude,” Sergio Rios, the band’s guitarist, said. “It’s music geared to free yourself to and light the dance floor up with.”
Once two musicians from Los Angeles covering artists like Booker T. & the MGs and The Meters, Rios and keys player Dan Hastie eventually curated their own sound– a sound that payed homage to their passion for soulful music.
The duo created their own home studio, KillionSound Studios, where they produced, rehearsed and recorded, with Rios as chief engineer and Hastie as co-producer.
With the discovery of the fiery singer with an even more fiery ‘fro, Adryon de León, Orgone’s sound has hit an all-time high.
Members of Orgone have collaborated and performed with musicians such as The Roots, Al Green and Sharon Jones, and have served as the backing band on major releases, including Alicia Keys’ album “As I Am” and Cee Lo Green’s track “Fool For You.”
Now on a national spring tour supporting the vinyl release of their latest album, “Beyond The Sun,” Rios said the group can’t wait to rip the stage here in Oxford.
Lettuce – 7 p.m.
Progressive funk, jazz and hip-hop fusion band Lettuce will be returning to Oxford to share their unique brand of music with Mississippi once again.
The group has been making music together for about two decades, a journey that started at a high school summer program for the Berklee School of Music, where each member of the band attended. There was an immediate chemistry among the musicians, and when they all returned for their prospective undergraduate degrees at Berklee, Lettuce was born.
Since those early days, the group has become a festival staple, playing and headlining events all around the nation with a show that can only be described as energizing and infectious. Whether it’s the booming bass or intricate lights, there is more than one reason to enjoy a Lettuce performance.
A simple skimming of the band’s discography demonstrates the group’s ability to branch out to just about any genre. The instrumentation and arrangements demonstrate pure musicality and technical skill at a level that is truly unprecedented.
“It’s definitely rooted in traditional, classic funk,” said Bloom. “And then you add a lot of more elements of hip-hop because we are the hip-hop generation. And, we also have some elements of electronic music, and a jam element, like a Phish thing.”
According to Erick Coomes, the band’s bassist, some of the more prominent influences on their newest music is that of 90’s hip-hop and classic psychedelia, although ultimately, the music is typically classified as funk.
Last year was busy for the group with the release of their newest album, “Crush,” which has proven to be highly successful on an international scale.
The recording and production of this album was documented on the groups newly released “funkumentary” entitled “Let Us Play” and is now available for rent and purchase on multiple video streaming platforms.
The band will be taking this newfound success to the festival on Saturday at 7 p.m. with a show that no music lover should miss.
“We’ve played in Oxford either once or twice before,” Bloom said. “There’s a lot of really great young people who really like music… They have a lot of great energy, and there is just really a lot of great music lovers.”
Michael Franti & Spearhead – 8 p.m.
Michael Franti, musician, humanitarian and filmmaker extraordinaire, and his band Spearhead will be closing out Double Decker.
Franti is the creator and lead vocalist of his current project, Michael Franti & Spearhead, a band that merges hip-hop with a variety of other styles including funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock to create a sunny sound.
Franti and his band Spearhead are known for their uplifting, easygoing music, which consists of a variety of different styles and genres. No strangers to chart-topping hits, their two-time platinum hit single “Say Hey (I Love You)” is characteristic of their thought-provoking yet energetic and feel-good songs.
Widely known for his globally and socially-conscious lyrics and dynamic live performances, Franti utilizes his music as a positive force for change and could be described as a lyrical activist. First and foremost, Franti is a humanitarian. He uses his music to spread the message of love and peace, and the message behind his songs is clear. His upcoming album is no different and is due to release in May of this year.
Michael Franti and Spearhead’s music is authentic and powerful, as well as carefree and joyful.