I’m a music nerd.
I’m assuming since you’re on SlyVinyl reading this, you might be as well. As a music nerd, my perception of an artist’s popularity is often a bit skewed. I’m regularly confused by the attendance at shows I thought would be packed, or I’m surprised when a friend is unfamiliar with an artist I’ve been listening to for years. Aaron Weaver, fellow SlyVinyl writer, often has to remind me that not everyone actively seeks out new music as fervently as we music nerds. In fact, according to a report from Deezer, many people stop discovering new music after 30. If you’re over 30 and reading this there’s a good chance you buck that trend, but it’s a trend nonetheless. This I’m sure plays a part in why many festivals include a lot of throwbacks to bands who were at their peak late 1990s and early 2000s. For example, Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, The Killers, Belle & Sebastian, and Eminem have been at or near the top of numerous lineups this year; and they’ve earned it. However, there are some festivals who are forging a different path, like Indianapolis upstart, Holler On The Hill.
Holler On The Hill, held in Indianapolis’ Garfield Park, deviates from many of the festival lineup tropes. Instead of a broad lineup appealing to as many as possible, they have assembled a lineup with a unique point of view, focused on delivering quality Americana, folk, and roots music. Holler avoids big splashy names at the top of the marquee, leaving the lineup is a bit of a sleeper. Not in the sleepy-boring kinda way, but in that many of the names on the lineup will be unknown to the casual music fan, yet it delivers one of the most balanced lineups of talent I’ve seen.
SlyVinyl photo team member Lindsay Jordan and I have put together our top 5 must-see sets for the weekend.
Joe Pug is a songwriter’s songwriter. Not only is he a talented lyricist and storyteller he’s the host of The Working Songwriter, a podcast in which Pug converses with some of today’s best songwriters, including fellow Holler On The Hill artists Hayes Carll, Lydia Loveless, and John Paul White. He’s a great interviewer, but what makes the podcast a success is Pug’s prowess as a songwriter. It’s a conversation among equals, talking about the craft and process of songwriting. Even without hearing his music, you can tell that Joe Pug pours all of himself into his music. Once you hear his music, you’ll understand that it’s worth all the effort. (Brian Bruemmer)
Recommended If You Like: John Prine, Bob Dylan, Justin Townes Earle
Set Time: Sunday, September 23nd at 6:30 p.m. on the Hilltop Stage
AARON LEE TASJAN
At first glance some might write off Aaron Lee Tasjan as a novelty because of his over the top outfits and often tongue-in-cheek lyrics. But there’s much more than mere novelty. Tasjan possesses a talent for writing a hook and a a turn of phrase. Song topics range from drinking and partying (The Trouble With Drinking) to a self-aware look at the lies that we tell ourselves (Little Movies). He’ll make you laugh and he’ll make you think, but all the while you’ll be awash in Tasjan’s unique brand of psychedelic country. (Brian Bruemmer)
Recommended If You Like: Todd Snider, Caleb Caudle, Ray Wylie Hubbard
Set Time: Sunday, September 23nd at 3:40 p.m. on the Backwoods Stage
Formed in 2000, Blitzen Trapper is a country rock band with heavy indie and folk influence. Their critically acclaimed track record speaks volumes as to the mark they’ve left not the industry. Starting with, “Wild Mountain Nation” being No. 98 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007. Since, they’ve put out 8 studio albums, and have a fan base of die hards that come to see these self described “cosmic flunkies” feel their rodeo clown vibes. (Lindsay Jordan)
Recommended If You Like: Deer Tick, Dawes, and My Morning Jacket
Set Time: Saturday, September 22nd at 8:10 p.m. on the Main Stage
If you want to talk about a band on the rise – then you want to talk about CAAMP. Hailing from Athens, Ohio, this guitar/banjo/bass folk trio is taking the scene by storm. With over 11 million listens on Spotify, I think it’s safe to say at least someone likes them. Catching on tours with acts like Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and selling out their own shows across the country; these boys are only going up from here. (Lindsay Jordan)
Recommended If You Like: Mandolin Orange, Rayland Baxter, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Set Time: Saturday, September 22nd at 5:00 p.m. on the Hilltop Stage
JONATHAN TYLER & THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
This American rock band, headed up by one of the coolest guys, is something not to miss. Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights have played alongside of some of the most legendary acts in the business. Not sure if you’ve heard of AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or The Black Crowes… Also, Jonathan Tyler himself is incredibly well-rounded. With a solo career, producing, playing on numerous studio albums for other musicians, and creating his own hot sauce – He truly is one of a kind. Don’t miss these guys! (Lindsay Jordan)
Recommended If You Like: Nikki Lane, The Texas Gentlemen, and Lynyrd Skynyrd
Set Time: Saturday, September 22 at 3:40 p.m. on the Backwoods Stage