Concert preview: Five can't-miss Nelsonville acts
10 p.m. Thursday, Main Stage
Fresh off a performance on "Saturday Night Live's" season finale, Courtney Barnett has gone from little-known to hard-to-miss since releasingSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit last year. The Aussie has perfected her distinctive brand of slacker rock; no matter how mundane the subject matter (house shopping, waffling on whether to leave the house or not), Barnett's songwriting is captivating.
11 p.m. Friday, Porch Stage
I know, I know. You don't want to like this band. Maybe because of the name. Maybe because, out of the Nashville band's six members, four of them play guitar. It all seems so stupid, and it kind of is. But it's also a lot of fun. Expect an all-out rawkfest with jumping and sweating and head-banging and guitar solos (hanging upside down, playing behind their heads and with their teeth, etc.) and more power-pop sing-alongs than a solid-color Weezer album.
2 p.m. Friday, Boxcar Stage
1 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage
At first blush, Joan Shelley might seem like an ordinary singer-songwriter who belongs on the undercard of a festival. But listen closer and you'll likely discover this Kentucky musician is writing some of the best modern folk songs today. Her last two albums,Over and Even andElectric Ursa, are masterpieces, playing with trad-folk forms to create something lulling and hypnotic - perfect for hazy and (hopefully) sunny Nelsonville afternoons.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
7 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage
Making a return trip to Nelsonville after owning the main stage in 2012, Charles Bradley is a funky, soulful dynamo onstage, especially when backed by a brass section. The one-time James Brown impersonator was discovered several years ago by Gabriel Roth, co-founder of soul-revival label Daptone Records, and the so-called "Screaming Eagle of Soul" has been wowing crowds ever since. The man brings his life story to the stage every time he plays. On Bradley's recently released third album, he covers Black Sabbath's "Changes," and it's one of the rare reinterpretations that transcends the original.
5:30 p.m. Sunday, Main Stage
Nelsonville has a history of bringing music legends to the hills of southeast Ohio: Merle Haggard, Mavis Staples, John Prine, George Jones and Loretta Lynn, to name a few. This year is no different. While some Nelsonville bands you could probably rationalize skipping because they'll be playing a nearby venue soon, there's no telling when you'll have the chance to see Randy Newman play his hilarious, oft-misunderstood songs within an hour or so of Columbus. Newman's performance will be the last of the weekend, which should be a great way to wrap up another year of the festival.