The 10 Best Acts to See at iFest's Second Weekend
Asleep at the Wheel
Photos courtesy of Houston International Festival
Ray Benson's Wheel has been rolling for more than 40 years now, quietly becoming quite a finishing school for many of the state's top country and swing musicians. Meanwhile, their impossibly tall front man has developed into the leading ambassador of Lone Star culture around the globe.
Earlier this year Benson actually stepped outside the Wheel and released a rare solo album, A Little Piece, a reminder that underneath the raconteur, TV personality, businessman and unofficial mayor of Austin, he's still a musician at heart, and one who's a worthy heir to Bob Wills and Count Basie to boot. Really, really big boots. (Bud Light World Stage, 6:30 p.m. Sunday) CHRIS GRAY
Black Queen Speaks
If you're looking for some serious rock at iFest, Black Queen's got you covered. Houston's Black Queen Speaks pull the best parts of rock, blues, and funk -- dirty power chords, soulful bass lines, gritty guitars -- and stitch them together with powerful, raw vocals. Just please don't wear any leather or whatever in honor of the show, or you'll remember why you don't venture outdoors past March in Houston. (BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press, 7 p.m. Saturday) ANGELICA LEICHT
Nobody has ever questioned where Archie Bell was from ever since he introduced himself with, "Hi everybody, we're Archie Bell & the Drells from Houston, Texas" on 1968's "Tighten Up," a delightful little morsel of chart-topping pop-soul that did more than its share to help shake the country out of its Vietnam-era funk. Originally inspired by the likes of Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke, Bell's repertoire has steadily grown bluesier over the years, and he's even cut a country tune or two, but he's never lost that beaming charisma that permeates songs like "I Just Can't Stop Dancing." Stepping in for the Drells Sunday will be the irrepressible Allen Oldies Band, who also dance as good as they walk. (Bud Light World Stage, 2:30 p.m. Saturday) CHRIS GRAY
Charles Bradley is everything a leading man should be. He's got soul, rhythm, passion and a voice that could make you weak in the knees. What's most fascinating about him, however, is that he didn't get started in music until he was 51, when he founded the Menahan Street Band. But this Saturday, Bradley will command the attention he rightfully deserves. Forget scheduling conflicts -- drop everything and make sure you catch him while he's in town. (Bud Light World Stage, 4:15 p.m. Saturday) ALYSSA DUPREE
Electric Attitude works the same retro-R&B grooves as Houston's wildly popular A Fistful of Soul DJ nights, but with far too much hard-rock edge to be a dance craze for people in their early twenties. Last year the septet released first full-length LP, Skintight & Solid Gold, a true mission statement that is cinematic and uncompromisingly funky. (BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press, 1 p.m. Saturday) CHRIS GRAY
Probably better known abroad than in her hometown, last year Fifth Ward native Trudy Lynn did Houston proud with Royal Oaks Blues Cafe, an 11-song set of high-spirited R&B that goes from the high-class joints to the honky-tonks in style. Whether forthright ("Confessin' the Blues"), seething ("Every Side of Lonesome") or ribald ("Whip It Into Jelly"), Miss Lynn is never half-assed. Best listen to what she says. (Bud Light World Stage, 12 p.m. Saturday) CHRIS GRAY
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