6 p.m. — Lilly Hiatt
This year’s Double Decker Festival will open with Lilly Hiatt, a no-nonsense rocker influenced equally by southern Americana bands and grunge artists. Her latest album is 2017’s “Trinity Lane,” which borrows the name of the East Nashville street she lives on and was recorded by a member of another Double Decker act (Shovels and Rope).
On the album’s title track, Hiatt sings of the reality of living on Trinity Lane — boredom makes her want to drink, she’s hesitant to leave her place, her neighbors are selling drugs. But “I know how that goes,” Hiatt sings in the song’s refrain.
7 p.m. — Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
Between their sets, Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will record its weekly show, featuring music by Lilly Hiatt and Eric Gales. Friday’s Thacker will also feature author Helen Ellis reading from her book “Southern Lady Code.”
8 p.m. — Eric Gales
After picking up a guitar at age four, Eric Gales quickly gained a reputation as a child prodigy until his debut album in 1991. Gale, who just put out his 19th album “The Bookends,” is widely hailed as one of the blues’ finest guitarists.
The best songs on “The Bookends” combine the arena-jolting guitar playing of rock legend Jimi Hendrix and frequent collaborator Gary Clark Jr., with the traditional blues chops of Muddy Waters and Albert King. Gales’s night-ending set is sure to shake North Lamar up.
11:30 a.m. — Kate Teague
The only Double Decker act that Oxford can confidently claim, Kate Teague has lived in town for years after growing up in Mobile, Alabama. But Teague, who also serves as executive director and producer for Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, has garnered national press and played gigs across the country.
Songs like the 2018 single “Gilly” channel the atmospheric indie sound of bands like Snail Mail. On that song, Teague advises the namesake character: “Let it end / Don’t let your willful heart win.” Her most recent release was a limited edition vinyl recorded with Anne Freeman.
1 p.m. — Cedric Burnside
Following an Oxford local is a man who grew up among and proudly claims the North Mississippi blues ethos — Cedric Burnside. The grandson to musical legend R.L. Burnside opened up about his roots in a recent Bitter Southerner article written by professor Brian Foster.
“It was in my blood to play the blues,” Burnside said in the interview.
The article followed shortly after Burnside’s 2018 album “Benton County Relic,” which used many of the classic sounds and words of Hill Country blues while glimpsing toward a newer, unexplored version of the genre.
2:30 p.m. — Emily King
Perhaps the most understated act to take this year’s Double Decker stage, Emily King plays a upbeat, ethereal form of R&B that’s sustained 10 years of music and garnered her a Grammy nomination. She cites Tina Turner and Tom Petty as some of her biggest influences, chiefly because their songs are fun to play while driving.
She shows off her influences on her 2019 album “Scenery.” “Go Back,” a song infused with soft-hearted apathy, channels Petty, while the percussive love song “Remind Me” channels Turner.
4 p.m. — Durand Jones and the Indications
After meeting in Indiana, Durand Jones and his bandmates combined the lush sounds of 1970s soul with lucid lyrics fit for today’s reality. This year, the band put out their sophomore album, “American Love Call.” The LP is equal parts love songs that could sneak onto a Jackie Wilson album and political commentary exposing the inequality of a modern America in which Jones “can’t see the dawn.”
“Congressmen in Washington / Receive their brief and brew / While lead, it fills the pipelines / In a Detroit County school,” Jones sings on the album’s opening track, “Morning in America.”
5:30 p.m — Lucero
Lucero has been a staple of the Memphis music for so long that Mayor Jim Strickland created “Lucero Day.” These Double Decker veterans, who played the festival in 2007, will make the short drive from Memphis to play their blend of rock, country and punk for fans in Oxford.
“We’re kind of the old standby,” said the band’s frontman, Ben Nichols. “Not the upcoming new kids, or the band that’s about to blow up, and we’re not the big famous act coming to town. … We’re the long-running, hard-working, bar-rocking band from Memphis.”
Read more from the DM’s interview with Nichols here.
7 p.m. — Shovels and Rope
Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, the husband-and-wife duo Shovels and Rope are known for their fusion of folk, rock and country, all with a strong southern accent. Cary Ann Hearst was born in Mississippi, grew up in Nashville then met the Denver-born Michael Trent while going to college in Charleston.
Shovels and Rope’s latest album, “By Blood,” might be their hardest hitting yet — from the in-your-face black-and-red album cover to the rock-suffused sound to the lyrics that pulse with the same violent energy as a Harry Crews novel.
“But I was the first-string quarterback, drove you everywhere / Or that time when Ronnie hit you so hard / You tried to drive and wrecked your car / And I had to help you wash the blood out of your hair,” they sing on “Mississippi Nuthin’.”
8:30 p.m. — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Led by a former Drive-By Trucker, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are an Americana music powerhouse. Now on their third album, Isbell and his backing band, made up of Sadler Vaden, Jimbo Hart, Derry DeBorja, Chad Gamble and Amanda Shires, picked up two Grammy Awards in 2018.
Isbell, known for his heartfelt reflections on relationships, actively questions those sort of songs on “The Nashville Sound.” Instead, he takes a political turn, analyzing his place of privilege as a white man on songs like “White Man’s World” and “Hope the High Road” with the mantra that “there’s no such thing as someone else’s fight.”
“I’ve heard enough of the white man’s blues / I’ve sang enough about myself,” Isbell sings on the latter track. “So if you’re looking for some bad news / You can find it somewhere else.”