You'll definitely want to see Mavis Staples and the Breeders, but also mark these performers and set times on your schedule
Yes, you should absolutely see soul legend and Civil Rights icon Mavis Staples, whom singer Kelly Hogan once rightfully described as “the sun,” both in terms of her unfailingly upbeat demeanor and her deserved cultural center-stage status. And plenty of you are already making the trek to see the Breeders, helmed by Dayton music royals (and sisters) Kim and Kelley Deal. But here are four other performers you should check out during this year's Nelsonville Music Festival, which runs Thursday-Sunday, June 6-9.
Jacklin's sophomore effort, Crushing, released in February, is an early contender for my album of the year. The record opens with the singer and songwriter in the midst of a brutal breakup (“Do you still have that photograph? Would you use it to hurt me?” goes one particularly cutting line) but gradually finds her reclaiming her sense of self — “I don't want to be touched all the time,” she sings on “Head Alone” — and, on the album-closing “Comfort,” a degree of peace hard-won with time.
Main Stage, 5 p.m. Saturday; Porch Stage, 5:30 p.m. Sunday
Mourning [A] BLKstar
The sprawling Cleveland 10-piece, founder RA Washington's attempt to launch “a big, black orchestra,” as he termed it, never flinches as it explores societal ills like systemic oppression, racial segregation and police violence. Despite the heavy nature of the material, the songs tend to feel weightless, informed by jazz, soul and rock, and preserving a deep, hip-shaking groove even as the lyrics engage and challenge the mind.
Main Stage, 12:30 p.m. Saturday
The Memphis post-punk trio's third album, 3, sounds deeply informed by living under a constant state of surveillance, whether that's via modern technology (“Surveillance State”) or as a woman unable to escape the male gaze (“What's that like to be a subject analyzed?” singer Natalie Hoffmann sneers on “Woman Alone”). This will be less of an issue during the first of two sets the band is scheduled to play at Nelsonville, which will take place under cover of dark in the wee hours Thursday morning.
Campground Tent, 1 a.m. Thursday; Porch Stage, 8:30 p.m. Friday
The Kentucky musician broke out with Purgatory, from 2017, an album where murder ballads rested comfortably alongside semi-sweet love songs like “Feathered Indians,” raising expectations for his new album, Country Squire, due in August. Childers has said the new record was informed by his Kentucky upbringing, though lead single “House Fire” unfolds more like an Appalachian update on Kings of Leon's “Sex on Fire.” Here's hoping the track is a bit of a red herring and the rest of the album retreats deeper into the foothills.
Main Stage, 9:45 p.m. Thursday