St. Augustine's Sing Out Loud Festival will kick off next weekend. It will feature more than 300 bands, and the headliner will be country music star Kacey Musgraves.
Sing Out Loud festival organizers expect this year’s event to be the biggest yet with 334 bands lined up to perform at about a dozen different venues throughout St. Augustine.
“You can see the bands really getting excited to participate in the festival this year,” said festival spokeswoman Dianya Markovits.
In addition to the nationally known performers and local bands, the festival will shine the spotlight on local poets and comedians. In all, it will feature about 500 artists.
Florida’s largest free live entertainment festival attracts about 25,000 spectators each year, but Markovits says this year’s lineup could bring in even more.
The festival will take place over four weekends from Sept. 6-29. Featured performers range in genre from indie rock, Americana, blues and hip-hop to bluegrass, punk rock, jazz and comedy.
Nearly all the shows are free to attend. Only the Sept. 21 show at The Amp St. Augustine featuring country music star Kacey Musgraves has an entrance charge.
The Musgraves show is sold out, but no tickets are needed to see the other top names scheduled to perform at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre’s Backyard Stage. In many cases, local and regional bands will have an opportunity to open these shows.
Who’s on stage
One hour. That’s all it took to sell out the Kacey Musgraves show, a clear indication that festival organizers know what music fans want.
For Musgraves fans, her show at The Amp is a must-see. It is her only Florida appearance this year.
“For her to participate in the Sing Out Loud Festival, it’s massive, absolutely massive,” said Dianya Markovits, who handles public relations for the venue.
Musgraves won four Grammys, including country album of the year and album of the year, for her critically acclaimed “Golden Hour.” The first two singles off that album, “Butterflies” and “Space Cowboy,” won her the other two Grammys for best solo performance and best country song, respectively.
“Golden Hour” also won her the Country Music Association award for album of the year.
The festival actually confirmed her participation before she swept the Grammy Awards.
“To have somebody who’s a recent Grammy winner, who’s cleaning up at the CMAs and who’s such a star in country music right now, that means a lot,” Markovits said.
“Golden Hour” is Musgraves’ second Grammy winner, the first being her 2013 debut album, “Same Trailer Different Park.” She also won a best country song Grammy for the lead single off that album, “Merry Go ’Round.” Another song, “Follow Your Arrow,” was the CMA’s song of the year.
“Same Trailer Different Park” established her as one of music’s most original new voices, and she was named “New Artist of the Year” by the CMA. Her follow-up album, 2015’s “Pageant Material,” reached number one on the charts. In 2016, she released “A Very Kacey Christmas,” which made the Top Ten on the holiday charts.
“Golden Hour” marks a shift in Musgraves’ musical direction with inspiration from Neil Young, Sade and even a bit of disco. Reviewers have called the album a “knockout” and said it “practically glows.”
In July, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, opened an exhibition titled “Kacey Musgraves: All the Colors.” It runs through June 7, 2020.
Other big names
The festival is bigger than one star, even one as prominent as Musgraves. Several other concerts featuring well-known performers from across the musical spectrum are scheduled to take the stage at The Amp. Admission to all of these shows is free.
“So many big headliners playing for free is really unprecedented,” said Markovits.
Here’s a look at who’s playing The Amp's Backyard Stage:
Kurt Vile and The Violators
Indie rocker Kurt Vile began his career with “lo-fi” home recordings and released two albums before his first studio effort, “Childish Prodigy.” A song released off his 2015 breakout album, “Pretty Pimpin’,” topped the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart. In 2018, he released his eighth album, “Bottle It In.”
Also performing will be indie group Reels.
The show is Sept. 7.
Indie pop performer Jenny Lewis has had a diverse career, beginning when she was a child acting in a Jell-O commercial. She went on to a television acting career and performed with various bands, most notably Rilo Kiley. In March, she released her fourth solo album, “On The Line.” The Washington Post calls the album Lewis’ best in more than a decade.
Also performing will be The Watson Twins and Nashville-based songstress Lucie Silvas. According to NPR, The Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh Watson, have “developed a style of sweet, soulful indie-folk that does more than nod to alt-country influences.”
The show is Sept. 8.
Propagandhi is a Canadian punk-rock band. Their latest album is “Victory Lap.”
Also performing will be punk rockers The Coathangers, Debt Neglector and GILT.
The show is Sept. 13.
Hot Water Music
Punk rock band Hot Water Music hails from Florida. The performance is part of the group’s 25th anniversary tour and will include music from two albums, 1999’s “No Division” and 2002’s “Caution.”
Guest performers will be The Menzingers, Subhumans and melodic punk band Kid You Not. Philadelphia-based punk band The Menzingers’ new album is “Hello Exile.” Subhumans hail from the 1980s UK punk scene and have released seven albums.
The show is Sept. 14.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Last year, eight-piece rock-and-roll soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones hit Billboard’s Emerging Artist chart at number three with “Apollo” from the band’s third studio album “Young Sick Camellia,” which rose to number four on the Alternative Albums chart.
The band released its debut album, “Half the City,” in 2014, following up in 2016 with “Sea of Noise.” They went on to open for the Rolling Stones.
Guests Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Aaron Lee Tasjan will also perform. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has toured five continents and recorded 12 studio albums in its 42 years. Its “musical gumbo” incorporates brass band music into a blend of bebop jazz, funk and R&B/soul. Americana performer Tasjan’s most recent album is “Karma for Cheap.”
The show is Sept. 15.
Like many of the artists headlining this year’s festival, Gary “GZA” Grice — a founding member of the influential hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan – is a top draw for fans. One of the early members of the rap movement, GZA achieved broad fame with his 1995 solo album “Liquid Swords,” considered by some to be a masterpiece in its genre.
Also performing will be DJ 3 Clops I and Friends, L.O.V.E. Culture and Willie Evans Jr.
The show is Sept. 20.
The Growlers occupy a unique place in music with their own hit event, Beach Goth. Lead singer Brooks Nielsen is a fan favorite, as is lead guitarist Matt Taylor. The band’s 2016 album, “City Club,” is notable for including West African, dance and electronic influences.
The show is Sept. 22.
Indie rocker Matthew Houck, who performs under the name Phosphorescent, has released nine albums, his most recent being 2018’s “C’est La Vie.”
The show is Sept. 22.
Shovels & Rope
The musical duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, also known as Shovels & Rope, have carved out a niche with efforts inspired by roots, indie, folk and rock genres. Their creative work extends to curating the High Water Festival in Charleston, South Carolina; making a film, “Shovels & Rope: The Movie”; and publishing a children’s book, “C’mon Utah!” Their latest album is “By Blood.”
Also performing will be indie rock and alternative country artist Lilly Hiatt whose latest album is “Trinity Lane.”
The show is Sept. 27.
Alternative country band Son Volt’s latest album, “Union,” comments on today’s turbulent political scene. It’s the band’s ninth album.
Also performing will be Early James and the Latest, a blues/folk/jazz duo.
The show is Sept. 29.