Five Can't-Miss Acts At ACL Fest This Year

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Craig Hlavaty
We're running this picture of My Morning Jacket's Jim James now because this will be the last we see of him all weekend.
For weeks after we skipped last year's Austin City Limits Music Festival to man the controls in Houston, Rocks Off found ourselves thinking, "Man, I wish I would have gone just to see Richard Thompson." The truth is, as much as we grumble and gripe about the heat, the walking, the hippies, the hipster freaks, and the fact that we'll mostly hear Young the Giant while we're trying to watch Phosphorescent Friday - that's a guess, but an educated one - ACL Fest is run by serious music fans with the kind of deep pockets that can lure just about any artist they want to Zilker Park.

To wit: Most other Texas promoters would either have to join forces and take up a collection or charge the equivalent of an ACL single-day pass (all gone except for Sunday) to get either Stevie Wonder or Kanye West, and ACL has both. Say what you will about the festival, it offers the kind of musical value other festivals in the Southwest can't even touch. Here are four artists you're unlikely to ever see if you're not going this weekend, and one brash newcomer we threw in because, well, their heart's in the right place.

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5. Foster the People: None of Team Rocks Off seems all that pumped up about this L.A. band of the ubiquitous "Pumped Up Kicks." Not only is Rocks Off Sr. finding it very difficult to wrap our grizzled head around the fact that Foster formed in 2009, we have a feeling that the Google+ stage might swallow their tinny electro-pop sound whole. But they do have a good heart, so we'll give 'em a shot: All day Friday, the band's "Do Good Bus" will be parked outside the Barton Springs entrance to Zilker Park, where volunteers will be taking donations for the Red Cross of Central Texas and the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund. ACL producers C3 Presents will match Friday's donations dollar for dollar.

5:30 p.m. Friday, Google+ Stage

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4. Preservation Hall Jazz Band & The Del McCoury Band: There are probably between 500 and 1,000 people in America who care about this collaboration between New Orleans' leading legacy brass band (non-parade division) and one of the main heirs to Bill Monroe's bluegrass legacy, and they will all be at this not-quite-one-off set in the Vista Equity tent. (The two groups did a brief tour earlier this year, and of course skipped Houston.) Rocks Off thinks their disc American Legacies is one of the year's best, so it will be our pleasure to join them.

7 p.m. Saturday, Vista Equity Stage

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