Acts are listed alphabetically (including solo performers, by first name).
A redoubtable force in her genre, Ann Rabson didn't learn to play piano till she was 35. Today, though, this "uppity blues woman" can claim a spot in the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame, among other honors too numerous to name.
Friday, Haywood Street Stage, 7-8:15 p.m.
Biltmore Baptist Choir
Filled with big voices and big faith, this local choir brings the sweet sounds of praise to Bele Chere. An ideal show for those partied-out revelers who need a hint of the Holy Spirit to complement their weekend of prodigal fun.
Sunday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 3-4 p.m.
All-female trios are riding high these days, trading on natural harmony and various exertions of sex appeal. Asheville's Buckerettes include a world-traveled fiddler and a City Council member. Whoa, boy!
Sunday, Haywood Street Stage, 12-1:15 p.m.
Named for the drovers' road that used to pass through these parts, this local bluegrass outfit has widened its playing field every year. Bonus: Every one of its members is a North Carolina native.
Saturday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 4:15-5:45 p.m.
This festival favorite from Atlanta memorably describes itself as "one part jazz, two parts funk and three sheets to the wind." Their instrumentals recall down-and-dirty "key parties" and other sordid staples of the '70s.
Saturday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 12:30-2 p.m.
A traditional-ish, country-tinged folk rocker who has the good fortune to sound like Lucinda Williams. No Depression-approved.
Friday, Haywood Street Stage, 2:45-4:15 p.m.
Chicago Afrobeat Project
Their polyrhythmic music is as complex as their name is refreshingly self-explanatory. A veritable army of strummers, drummers and other beat-keepers, the many-man band had the privilege of headlining the Windy City's House of Blues on St. Patrick's Day.
Sunday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Chris Rosser (with River Guerguerian)
Most singer/songwriters are content to strum their guitar and call it a song. But local musician Chris Rosser traveled the globe to hone his sound, mastering obscure Indian instruments that give his worldly folk that just-right-for-Asheville ring.
Sunday, Haywood Street Stage, 1:45-3:15 p.m.
Christine Kane (with David LaMotte)
Arguably our most successful homegrown songwriter, Christine Kane has been called upon to score ballets and to duet with Roseanne Cash. At Bele Chere, she'll be appropriately teamed with fellow folkie-done-good David LaMotte.
Sunday, Haywood Street Stage, 3:45-5:15 p.m.
No retro act, these local Western Swing-sters know whereof they, um, swing. An utterly danceable example of an underlooked genre.
Friday, Battery Park Stage, 2:30-4 p.m.
A darling of the jam-band set -- they recently hit #1 on a fans' poll -- the funk-rock-wielding Codetalkers are led by one Col. Bruce Hampton, the eccentric and super-talented stalwart of an ever-revolving lineup. Hampton's behind the H.O.R.D.E. tour and many other institutions of the genre.
Saturday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 6:30-8 p.m.
Opening For Gov't Mule; See feature story. "Are you glad to be alive?" is the oft-tossed declaration "mouthed" by these New Orleans-bred party-rockers. Crescent City to the core, despite the strange Western/porno-euphemistic name.
Friday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 7-8:30 p.m.
Opening for Train; See feature story. David Lowery has traveled a long and surprisingly lucrative path since his early-'80s days fronting nerd-rock heroes Camper Van Beethoven. With Cracker, he does a sort of resonant, wasted-country thing that never quite goes out of style.
Saturday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 7-8:30 p.m.
Dave Desmelik and the Hillbilly Cadavers
Performing Songwriter got it right when it called this charming local performer "NPR ready." Dave and his dead guys do low-frills roots-folk with lots of heart, and enjoy a high position on the Euro-Americana chart (yes, there really is such a thing).
Sunday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
David Holt & The Lightning Bolts
This Grammy-winning musician/storyteller began his "song catching" odyssey in the Southern Appalachians in 1968. Today, he's considered an ambassador of old-time forms; Holt frequently plays with North Carolina living legend Doc Watson.
Saturday, Battery Park Stage, 7-8:30 p.m.
One of those local anomalies -- a commercially successful folk rocker who makes his home here but rarely graces Asheville stages, save for a few much-anticipated concerts per year. LaMotte is known for ear-candy songcraft, extra-long hair and his recent children's book, S.S. Bathtub.
Friday, Haywood Street Stage, 5-6:30 p.m.
Dawn of the Dude
Dude, where's my contract? Last year, this local ska band emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, to scoop the competition at the 2005 Hurricane Katrina Relief Battle of the Bands competition at downtown McCormick Field.
Saturday, Battery Park Stage, 12:15-1:45 p.m.
This Detroit quintet forsakes the rock and rap of its most recently famous forebears (White Stripes, Eminem, etc.) in favor of hard-edged country rock. File with the Drive-By Truckers.
Saturday, Battery Park Stage, 4:45-6:15 p.m.
Every Mother's Dream
Formerly the Jay [Kaiser] and Mandy [Carter] Band, this local couple have an insular, spirited, folk-driven vision they're eager to share. Kaiser is well known for his innovative musicianship.
Sunday, Battery Park Stage, 12-1:30 p.m.
FFH (Far From Home)
See feature story. This quarter-century-old Christian-rock act got a new lease on life with their latest record, Voice From Home, written less as a "worship record" than as a message straight from God. FFH is the recipient of seven DOVE awards.
Sunday, Celebration Stage at Renaissance Parking Lot, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
See feature story. The departure in 2004 of their vocalist, Theryl "Houseman" DeClouet, was a decided blow. But this New Orleans funk posse, a great favorite on the jam circuit, soldiered on, reinventing themselves as an all-instrumental act. We'll hum to that.
Saturday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 8:30-10:30 p.m.
Gamble Brothers Band
All the tightest acts result from sibling synergy, as brothers Al and Chad Gamble prove in their crackling Memphis-based R&B outfit. Proudly guitar-free, the quartet got four stars from Paste magazine for their album Back to the Bottom. The new Continuator does just that.
Saturday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 3:30-5 p.m.
See feature story. All gravel and grit, hometown boy Warren Haynes' pet project is a band for big boys. And girls. It's hard-edged jam rock that isn't afraid to probe the dark places.
Friday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 9-11 p.m.
We're pretty sure this is still the code name for shaggy-haired, bony-framed Woody Wood, guitarist/screamer/eccentric extraordinaire. But, as his stage name suggests, his reputation overwhelms him. Don't miss this genre-bending local star.
Friday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 2-3:30 p.m.
He's only 24, but Jerome (pronounced "Jeremy") McComb is already a star songwriter in mainstream country. His tunes have appeared on CDs for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Larry the Cable Guy: The Right to Bare Arms.
Friday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 7-8:30 p.m.
The manic rise and fall of the Squirrel Nut Zippers didn't faze the retro act's front man, Jimbo Mathus, who came out swinging five years ago with his new band, Knockdown Society. These days, Mathus, based back in Mississippi, is as well known for wearing the hats of producer and philanthropist, helping out fellow musicians in need.
Saturday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 6:30-8 p.m.
Based in NYC, this rootsy pianist and singer/songwriter first made a name for himself on the jazz-club circuit. He was recently described by Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper as "one of the most important voices in modern soul music."
Saturday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 12-1 p.m.
At age 17, this Baton Rouge blues ambassador played bass for Buddy Guy. Today, he also does piano, trumpet, harmonica, and guitar -- in fact, Neal has been called "one of a mere handful of truly inventive young contemporary guitarists."
Saturday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 9-10:30 p.m.
Kyle Petty Charity Ride
More than 250 motorcycle riders, including a few bike-loving NASCAR drivers, will thunder through downtown Asheville's party-soaked streets on this charity ride from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to Randleman, N.C. Money raised benefits the Victory Junction Gang Camp for critically ill children.
Saturday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 5-6:30 p.m.
Last Man Standing
Fronted by former Olympic decathlete Gary Kinder and backed by his studio-musician brother Barry (who has played for the likes of Don Henley, Kid Rock and Tina Turner), this up-and-coming country group is the perfect opener for Shooter Jennings.
Friday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 5-6:30 p.m.
Laura Blackley and The Love Handles
Asheville's undisputed doyenne of earthy, blues-based rock, Laura Blackley is also an activist, writer, and all-around mini-icon. Her songs are routinely included on all regional compilations that matter.
Saturday, Haywood Street Stage, 4:30-6 p.m.
Lee Whitaker Band
Smooth, rockin' country that goes down as easy as a Jack Daniels-laced milkshake. This North Carolina native's pretty easy on the eyes, too. Definitely one to watch for those who care what Nashville's doing.
Saturday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 1:30-3 p.m.
You've gotta love a guy who plays a mean accordion (and doesn't resort to kitsch to carry his tune). Lil' Malcolm fronts the Zydeco House Rockers with his father and brother. Their fiery traditionalism ensures their continued elevation above pop-addled fusionists.
Sunday, Battery Park Stage, 2:15-3:45 p.m.
This South Carolina blues survivor has fooled with more famous people than a paparazzo. Seriously, though, the generations-deep bassist enjoyed a well-known collaboration with Muddy Waters. And get this: James Brown was in his high-school band.
Friday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 5-6:30 p.m.
Mad Tea Party
A favorite local trio who really puts the "novel" in novelty band. Quirky without being precious, commendably melodic and refreshingly unabrasive, the hokum-jazz-inspired group is gearing up to release their next original album, Big Top, Soda Pop.
Friday, Haywood Street Stage, 12:30-2 p.m.
See feature story. His she-lion hair and unabashedly operatic vocals make you swear it's 1975 again. But this big-bang blues-rocker is definitely here, now -- witness his recent co-bill with Norah Jones.
Friday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 9:30-11 p.m.
This ever-revolving cadre of local sirens draws raves no matter who's new on the mic. Old-time and blues-based harmonies are the focus, with a big dose of come-hither hi-jinx to sweeten the mix.
Saturday, Haywood Street Stage, 6:45-8 p.m.
Billing themselves as "authentic Rasta reggae," this Columbia, S.C.-based outfit is a good-time staple on the Southeastern club circuit. Band members have shared stages with such luminaries of the genre as the Wailers, Burning Spear and Yellow Man.
Saturday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 5-6:30 p.m.
One Leg Up
Tribute bands can be a bore -- but not when their exalted subject is gypsy-jazz giant Django Reinhardt. Actually, this smoky local outfit is rising fast on its own power, having just released a well-received new CD earlier this month.
Sunday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 2-3:30 p.m.
Papa Grows Funk
They've got a "Tapers" section on their Web site -- which lets you know right off that this self-explanatory New Orleans group is big on the jam-band scene. Gambit Weekly called them one of the city's "most creative improvisational bands."
Friday, Battery Park Stage, 4:45-6:15 p.m.
Three years ago, Rolling Stone named this Madison, Wis. funk/soul outfit a "band on the rise." We certainly hope so -- the horn-heavy group is eight members strong. If they can maintain an army like that, they deserve to rise in rank!
Friday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 6:30-8 p.m.
This extremely well-connected Southern rock gentleman has kept a curiously low profile for the last three decades, despite collaborations with Steve Winwood, the Allman Brothers and Capricorn Records. Today, Georgia giants like R.E.M. and Widespread Panic sing his praises.
Sunday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 4-5:30 p.m.
Appalachian reggae? Yeah, right. Except that regional cult fave Ras Alan has been doing it for decades now. He combines reggae's conscious lyrics and hypnotic beat with an old-time-mountain flavor -- even CMT took notice, profiling Alan on its show Small Town Secrets.
Friday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Billing themselves as an acoustic jazz-and-rock outfit, this Arden-based four piece refuse to be boxed into just one genre. With a mellow-but-fresh sound and a fan base largely under the drinking age, Redstreet could be one of the festival's surprise hits.
Saturday, Haywood Street Stage, 12:30-2 p.m.
Rich Willey Jazz Band
Our own UNCA Jazz Studies curriculum turns out some top brass every year. Check out one of the program's respected instructors, Mr. Willey, and hear where it comes from.
Sunday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 12-1:15 p.m.
This young Nashville lion is as well known for penning gems for others (and for lending them his guitar chops and backing vocals) as for his own stuff. Now Huckaby seems to be coming into his own -- file under Americana, please, not Country.
Sunday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 12:15-1:45 p.m.
Chenier, Delafose, Lil' Malcolm, move over -- accordion queen Rosie Ledet is ready to squeeze you out of your place. The beloved "Zydeco Sweetheart" sings in both Creole French and English, to arresting effect.
Sunday, Battery Park Stage, 4:30-6 p.m.
Sultry Molly Kummerle leads this local, high-class lounge act. But behind the red tresses and come-hither dresses is a "music geek" of long standing, well accompanied by her equally studied band mates, Robin Tolleson and Andy John.
Sunday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 1:45-3:15 p.m.
They say those that can't do, teach. But this blues guitarist is always co-billed as a "historian" -- meaning, we guess, that he knows whereof he strums.
Saturday, Haywood Street Stage, 2:30-4 p.m.
See feature story. Xpress' Alli Marshall recently pointed out that the young, hard-living Shooter Jennings was perfect "bad boyfriend material." A real chip-off-the-old-outlaw, Waylon's son is, indeed, giving country music a bad name. And believe us -- that's a good thing.
Friday, Rock n' Kiss Stage at Coxe Avenue, 9-10:30 p.m.
A prominent presence in major early R&B bands, Sidney Barnes semi-retired to Asheville and maintained a low profile -- for a while. Now, fronting the rollicking Good Time Band, he's become a funky fixture at home and far beyond.
Saturday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 2-3:30 p.m.
The Sigmon Stringers
Mountain music and family bands go together like land and sky. The Sigmon Stringers, of Newton, N.C., are three-generations deep and knee-high in awards, including nabbing junior honors in the bluegrass-band competition at last year's Fiddler's Grove Festival.
Sunday, eGlobal Stage at Lexington Avenue, 2:15-3:45 p.m.
Steep Canyon Rangers
You can't fade these award-winning, Western North Carolina bluegrass boys. Their song "One Dime At a Time" hit the top of the bluegrass charts back in spring, after which they played a set with the legendary Curly Seckler (ex sideman to Flatt & Scruggs) at Merlefest. Acoustic Guitar called SCR's most recent album "enormously satisfying."
Friday, Battery Park Stage, 7-8:30 p.m.
These ueber-hot local wonders, led by titular siren Stephanie Morgan, enjoyed an incredible year in 2005. Asheville Ballet built a production around the band's lushly emotive, scary-in-a-good-way sound, and Shirley Manson of Garbage chose their song "Popsicles," from their EP This EP is Money, for Jane Magazine's Readers' CD.
Friday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 7:15-8:45 p.m.
This local ska/funk posse is made up of guys (including two brothers) who've known each other since babyhood. Their resulting supreme musical tightness makes them a habitual house-packer on the regional circuit.
Saturday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 2:45-4:15 p.m.
This up-and-coming Christian-rock foursome grew out of namesake lead vocalist Michael Tait's other hit group, DC Talk. Stylish clothes and a vocal social consciousness ensure this band's success.
Sunday, Celebration Stage at Renaissance Parking Lot, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Opening for Gov't Mule; See feature story. Atlanta Magazine called him "the most significant bluesman to emerge from [here] since Blind Willie McTell." Soaring, rock-soaked blues for the beer-and-boogie set.
Friday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 5-6:30 p.m.
See feature story. More radio-ready than a test of the Emergency Broadcast System, this multi-platinum powerhouse has sped to the top just like their name suggests. Lead singer Pat Monahan praises their latest album's "intimate" vibe, though the disc landed them on Letterman and the Today Show (not exactly low-profile).
Saturday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 9-11 p.m.
This sort-of duo (they sometimes add up to three extra members) isn't afraid to call itself a jam band -- the first thing you'll learn on their online bio is that Relix featured 'em last year. Co-frontman Ryan Rightmire boasts the distinction of being able to play acoustic guitar and harmonica at the same time.
Saturday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 7-8:30 p.m.
True-bluesman Bill Homans took his stage name from his days as a farmer -- but his stints in the military and driving trucks have done equally much to inform his music. After a spectacularly late start (he's nearer 60 than 30), Homans and his band, The Workers, are now represented by the same agency that supports John Lee Hooker Jr. and Tinsley Ellis, among other blues notables.
Sunday, Biltmore Avenue Stage, 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Whitewater Bluegrass Company
This local group features old-school on-stage camaraderie, new tunes and standards, and a refreshing lack of pretention. Not that they couldn't brag if they wanted to: Their banjo player, Haywood County's Marc Pruett, won a Grammy for his work with genre giant Ricky Skaggs.
Saturday, Battery Park Stage, 2:30-4 p.m.
Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
Opening for Train; See feature story. Their name inspires either laughs or eye rolls, but this regional funk sextet prompts a universal response when it sets crowds dancing. YMBFBB has opened for Parliament-Funkadelic and other top dogs of the genre.
Saturday, Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot, 5-6:30 p.m.