Maybe you’re a country music fan, and maybe you missed out on the first weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. And maybe you’re thinking of going to Weekend Two. If that describes you, you missed out on some great country shows the first weekend. Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris and Margo Price wowed the crowds with twang and down-home Texan charm.
And if you’re a country fan looking for something a little more country-adjacent, Mumford & Sons closed out the set to a park’s worth of dedicated fans.
But if you missed out on all that and you’re wondering which artists to see this weekend, fear not, because Gone Country has your guide. Some of the artists listed below aren’t country. But if you’re a country fan, you might like them. And if you want to plan out your own lineup, you can take a look at the full Weekend Two schedule here.
Friday, Oct. 7
Asleep at the Wheel — 12:15-1:00, Honda Stage
These guys have played the festival for every year it’s been in existence. Ray Benson founded Asleep at the Wheel in Paw Paw, West Virginia 46 years ago, but the group is now based in Austin. With such a long-spanning legacy, the group has performed with everyone from the Avett Brothers to George Strait. Start your ACL Country weekend off with the group at 12:15 on the Honda Stage.
Lincoln Durham — Tito’s Handmade Vodka Tent
While not entirely country, Durham’s sound has a somewhat country tone with a Southern Gothic bent. His song “Creeper” sounds like it could be the soundtrack to some moments on the first season of “True Detective.” If you like your music dark, foreboding and accompanied by blues guitars, banjos and fiddles, this is the act to see.
Saturday, Oct. 8
Saturday is bereft of any actual country acts, so you’ll have to make do with the following. But, like I said, they’re country-adjacent.
Shawn Pander — 12:45-1:30, Tito’s Handmade Vodka Tent
Pander sounds like a folkier version of Jason Mraz, with the same types of story-songwriting from the early part of Mraz’s career. Some critics have placed him in the same vein as John Mayer or Dave Matthews.
The Roosevelts — 12:45-1:30, BMI Stage
Rock music with mandolins and a little blues, some country and some roots thrown in. The closest thing I can compare their song “Belly of the Beast” to is Chris Stapleton at his bluesiest.
Sunday, Oct. 9
Sunday is the biggest day for country music fans, featuring a who’s who of old and new talent. Plus, there’s a gametime decision to be made at 6 p.m.— Amanda Shires or Willie Nelson?
Anderson East — 2:00-3:00, Samsung Stage
To some, he might be most famous these days for being Ms. Miranda Lambert, but East has musical chops in spades. He was featured on Dave Cobb’s “Southern Family” this year. He’s also toured with Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, The Lone Bellow, Jason Isbell, and John Butler Trio. His song “Learning,” from “Southern Family,” sounds like a throwback to ’70s rock and RnB, with a bit of a country twist.
Margo Price — 3:00-4:00, HomeAway Stage
By the time Price leaves Austin, she will have had a full week in the Live Music Capital of the World. She performed at the HomeAway stage last Sunday, taped an “Austin City Limits” TV performance Monday and shot a tribute to Austin’s own Doug Sahm on top of the hill that bears his name, with his son Shawn Tuesday. She also boasts the best-selling debut of any female country artist in 2016. At her ACL taping, she made me tap my toes to some of the most incisive, no-nonsense songwriting the genre has experienced in quite some time. Imagine what she’ll do with a Zilker Park crowd.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats — 4:00-5:00, Samsung Stage
This Denver eight-piece is much, much more than their wonderful, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”-on-steroids breakout single “S.O.B.,” and that song is catchy as hell. They were also at Weekend One, and our reviewer called them “a grownup, professional-grade hybrid of blues, rock, soul, folk, and country music.” Not entirely country, but they’re talented.
Amanda Shires — 6:00-7:00, BMI Stage
Lubbock native Shires is one of Americana’s best acts today. It’s tough playing during the same slot as Willie Nelson, but anyone who appreciates great stories and great songwriting will want to see her. She was selected as Texas Magazine’s Artist of the Year in 2011, and just released a new album. Oh, and three years ago she married Jason Isbell, who can be seen performing with her in the following video.
Willie Nelson — 6:00-7:00, Samsung Stage
Do I really need to say anything about Willie? He’s worth the price of admission alone. As one of the Austin music scene’s Founding Fathers, it’s always a pleasure to see him perform live. Age is showing no signs of slowing down his creative output. He recently released a Ray Price tribute album, and last year he released his final duet album with the late Merle Haggard and an album of Gershwin covers. If you want to see a legend perform in the city that made him famous, this is the show to see.
Mumford & Sons — 8:00-10:00, Samsung Stage
Last, but certainly not least, end your country night with sounds from the land where country music’s roots have a little bit of a foothold. London folk-rockers Mumford & Sons might not sell out stadiums like in their 2012 heyday, but show me someone who doesn’t at least know the words to “Little Lion Man” and I’ll show you a liar. Their sound might have changed, but the banjo still plays a big part, and they can put on a good show— the Sons also closed out Weekend One and our own Peter Blackstock reported that the frequent change-up between acoustic and electric instrumentation “add[ed] another dimension to their performance that helped keep the show lively and intriguing.”
There you have it, ACL country fans. Be sure to wear sunscreen.
Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. For info about album releases and concerts, check out this week’s Country Music Roundup.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.