There are enough roots, alt-country, folk-pop and Americana acts at this year's NXNE to populate a sizable folk fest. Whether you're partial to a few tears in your whisky or on the lookout for the next Mumford & Sonsy bar band, the fest's got you covered.
For starters, Calexico are coming. The Tucson, Arizona, mariachi rock veterans play the Virgin Mobile Mod Club (Wednesday, June 12, 10 pm, NXNE wristband or $20), with Spanish songwriter Depedro opening.
Columbus, Ohio's Lydia Loveless has a real-deal country voice and confessional-sounding songs about love and drinking that manage to sidestep clichés (Lee's Palace, Thursday, June 13, 10 pm, $15). From the same geographic vicinity come clever cowpunks Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons (Cameron House, Thursday, June 13, midnight, $12).
Critically acclaimed songwriter Gem Andrews brings her tunes across the Atlantic from Newcastle Upon Tyne to play C'est What (Thursday, June 13, 9 pm, $12), Free Times (Friday, June 14, 9 pm, $12) and the Tranzac (Saturday, June 15, 11 pm, $10). Meanwhile, former Guthries singer Gabriel Minnikin makes a return visit at the Tranzac (Thursday, June 13, midnight, $10) and Magpie (Friday, June 14, 1 am, $12).
One of the fest's most intriguing musicians is New York City's Ed Askew, who first took a stab at the music business in the 60s with a psych-folk group called Gandalf and the Motorpickle. Last year he put out the lo-fi keyboard-based recording Laughing In The Light (The Piston, Wednesday, June 12, 9 pm, $15, and Czehoski, Friday, June 14, 11 pm, $12).
At the other end of the age spectrum, California's Gal Musette is an idiosyncratic duo headed by a teenage girl who writes love songs inspired by the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs comp (Magpie, Friday, June 14, 9 pm, $12).
Soulful Montrealer Molly Sweeney's worth a listen (C'est What, Saturday, June 15, 11 pm, $12), while Sunfields' acoustic guitar pop is what it sounds like: as mellow and breezy as a summer drive (Monarch Tavern, Wednesday, June 12, midnight, $12). Grainy-voiced Holyoak, aka Neil Holyoak, who claims Malian music, symbolist poetry and Townes Van Zandt as influences, plays the Central (Thursday, June 13, 1 am, $12).
Victoria's Chris Ho plays shimmery, conversational folk-pop (Tranzac, Saturday, June 15, 8 pm, $10; Monarch Tavern, Saturday, June 15, midnight, $12), while Bodega guy Andrew Rodriguez and his new band, the Good Bad Kids, play the Monarch Tavern (Wednesday, June 12, 1 am, $12).
For a bluegrass fix, check out Suitcase Sam & the Suits (Silver Dollar, Thursday, June 13, 8 pm, $15) or Crazy Strings (11 pm, $15), who've kept the same Wednesday night residency at the Silver Dollar going for 15 years.