Texas®

Yep. The schedule for this year’s ACL Fest has been announced, and truthfully, that announcement is far more important than the unveiling of which bands will be playing. that sounds crazy, I know. But when you begin to drool over the thought of catching so many great bands in one weekend, you take a look at the scheduled time slots for the acts and realize that seeing full sets from your top picks will likely be an impossibility.

Hey, that’s really a good problem to have. Sure, it’s a bit of a bummer, but look at it the other way: Imagine a 3-Day festival bill that doesn’t have enough quality acts to create any schedule confusion. Now THAT’S sad.

Sometimes the time-frames that seem congested with quality can turn out to be easy choices, once you get moving inside of the park during the festival. Often times, set conflicts work themselves out. Some of you may remember from my recap of Night One of last year’s ACL Festival, the 7:00 pm time slot was packed with four acts that were legit headliners at just about any festival, all on different stages at the same time. Sonic Youth, Ryan Bingham Vampire Weekend and Robert Randolph were indeed battling for my time and attention.

Turns out, it wasn’t much of a fight. With a predetermined strategy to start at the far end of the park with Sonic Youth and proceed to make my way to each set a couple of tunes at a time, I ended up staying transfixed at Sonic Youth’s show. Couldn’t help it. it jsut happened, and I was beyond OK with missing on whatever I might’ve missed at the other sets. Such is festival magic, I suppose.

This year, each of the three days offers a couple of spots where tough decisions will have to be made. My likely strategy at this point for these tough spots is similar to what I had last year: Catch a couple of songs and get moving. But, if I experience enthrallment at one of the stages, as I did last year, then who knows which band I might end up missing.

Check out these tough time-slot choices. Feel free to drop a note in the comments section about what choice you would make among the offerings below…

FRIDAY 9/16 ~

  • 2:30 pm: Old Crow Medicine Show, Bobby Long and Delta Spirit.
  • 8:30 pm: Kanye West and Coldplay.

SATURDAY 9/17 ~

  • 6:00 pm: Patrice Pike, Wanda Jackson, Gillian Welch and Cee Lo Green
  • 7:00 pm: Court Yard Hounds, Preservation Hall Jazz Band w/Del McCoury and TV on The Radio.

SUNDAY 9/18 ~

  • 1:30 pm: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., The Greencards and The Head & The Heart.
  • 4:30 pm: Ryan Bingham, Broken Social Scene and Leroy Powell.

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OK, I know it doesnt seem like that long ago, because it wasnt. But 2010′s ACL Festival is a distant memory, regardless. Why? The line-up for 2011′s edition of the annual party in Zilker Park was officially announced recently, and for those who claimed the organziers had an off year with last years billing (for the record, we didn’t think that), it would seem that such complaints will be hard to come by this year.

Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, Cee Lo Green, Fleet Foxes, Allison Krauss, Ray Lamontagne, Nas & Damien Marley, Social Distortion and Ryan Bingham headline an insanely fun group that, as was the case last year, will surely provide many an opportunity for tough decisions once the schedule is announced in a couple of months.

Aside from Bingham, there are several notable acts with Texas ties, as usual. Iron & Wine, Court Yard Hounds (the Dixie Chicks sans Natalie Maines project), Jack Ingram, Hayes Carll, Gary Clark Jr., Patrice Pike, Hudson Moore and of course, as usual, Asleep at the Wheel will certainly lend the festival its usual taste of the Lone Star State.

So, this is only the beginning. This year we at Best of Texas are going to take the ACL preview to new hieghts (at least for us). We’re not going to throw out a few big names and wait until after the September festival is over to tell you how it all went down, no sir. Starting NOW, we’re going to begin a musical oddysey that will see us give you the reader a short (and sometimes not-so-short) introduction into each and every act that will grace an ACL 2011 stage. Sometimes we’ll tell you about several at once, in some form or another. Sometimes we’ll just post a video and a couple of quick thoughts on an act or two, and at other times, we’ll kill a few hundred words on an act that we think is particularly special and certainly worth your time, should you head to Austin between Sept 16-18. 

Since this is the first one (of so very many to come), let’s get one of the big names that needs very little introduction out of the way: Kanye West.

Headlining the Friday night schedule, competing for ears with Coldplay, who’ll be rocking the other end of the park around the same time, most likely, West has established himself as a festival act that is as unpredictable as he is ostentatious and genius. Full disclosure, West’s 2010 record My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy was my vote for record of the year when I voted in the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll (the album ended up at #1, among 1200 voters from publications all over the country including Rolling Stone and Spin).

OK, we’ve got almost four months until that magical weekend, so please check back regularly for future ACL band intros. I promise: it’ll be well worth your time, oh fellow festival goer.