Entering its third year, the 2017 Sloss Music and Arts Festival, held July 15-16 at the Historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Ala., continues to grow. Over the festival's two days, more than 40 bands will perform, including a mix of nationally recognized acts, regional favorites and some bands generating local buzz. While there's plenty to see anywhere at Sloss Festival, these five bands are ones that any attendee should have penciled in on their conflict list.
Sloss Festival is practically a hometown show for headliners Alabama Shakes, hailing from just an hour north in Athens, Ala. Since they released their first album, Boys & Girls, to critical acclaim in 2012, they have grown bigger each year, with their 2015 follow-up Sound & Color nabbing three Grammy Awards. Behind vocalist Brittany Howard's booming voice and wailing guitar skills, the band has a well-earned reputation as one of the most dynamic live acts in the world. Songs like “Don't Wanna Fight” and “Gimme All Your Love” delivered in their home state is a sure recipe that they'll live up to their name and ensure that Alabama truly shakes.
Alabama Shakes will perform at Sloss Festival on Sunday, July 16.
There aren't many bigger names in Americana music today than Sturgill Simpson. While he may live in Nashville, Tenn., Simpson's willingness to blend country, rock, soul, blues and jazz into his own unique sound owes more than a little bit of a nod to the music of Alabama and especially nearby Muscle Shoals. Onstage, Simpson is every ounce the country outlaw, bringing an energy and vocal fire to hits like “Turtles All the Way Down” and “Call to Arms” that not only earned him a Grammy Award but also made him a viral sensation after his horn-infused performance on Saturday Night Live earned him praise.
Sturgill Simpson will perform at Sloss Festival on Sunday, July 16.
Run the Jewels
Rock and Americana aren't all that Sloss has to offer fans. Hip hop supergroup Run the Jewels, made up of El-P and Killer Mike, have made a huge impact on the festival scene since their self-titled debut in 2013. Known for their politically and socially conscious lyrics, it's a good bet that Run the Jewels will have plenty to say about the current political climate in America. But don't think that takes away from the fun. The pair never take themselves too seriously and their shows carefully balance commentary with a good time.
Run the Jewels will perform at Sloss Festival on Saturday, July 15.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Daptone Records artist Charles Bradley may have gotten his recording career started late in life — the 68-year-old soul singer didn't release his first album until 2011 — but he's made up for lost time in a big way. Bradley's vocal delivery sound evokes memories of Otis Redding, but the showmanship on stage is straight out of the James Brown playbook. A long time devotee of Brown, Bradley's kinetic energy, helped by the tight rhythm and wailing horns of The Extraordinaires, sweeps over a festival crowd and compels those around to dance.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires will perform at Sloss Festival on Saturday, July 15.
While Lillie Mae's debut album, Forever and Then Some, may have only recently been released, she's a name, or at least a voice, a lot of rock and roll fans will know. A long time member of Jack White's band, Mae's vocals can be heard on tracks like “Temporary Ground.” Now, under White's deft production, Lillie Mae is stepping out on her own with a band consisting of her siblings. Mae's strong fiddle and mandolin skills and darkly moody lyrics will offer a different take at Sloss Festival.
Lillie Mae will perform at Sloss Festival on Sunday, July 16.