SXSW 2018: 25 Best Country, Americana Shows We Saw

From eclectic sets by Devin Dawson and Caroline Rose to star-is-born turns by Billy Strings and Liz Brasher

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Nikki Lane
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Dave Pedley/GettyImages8/25

Nikki Lane

South Carolina native Nikki Lane always exudes a deadpan cool, even when struggling a bit after a week of multiple South By Southwest gigs per day. She acknowledged as much toward the end of a Friday-afternoon set at the Austin Convention Center. "My band is so excited I'm not gonna be able to talk tomorrow," Lane said by way of apology. "Bliss in the van!" Aching voice or not, Lane nailed everybody's heart to the back wall of the building, delivering a no-nonsense half-hour focused on her 2017 album Highway Queen. Exuding the kind of charisma that can't be coached or learned, she rocked a cowboy hat and sang with a touch of blue-eyed-soul rasp. Highlights included "700,000 Rednecks," the jubilant closer "Jackpot" and a cover of Jessi Colter's "Why You Been Gone So Long" – with an adlib about how she "got drunk at the Luck Reunion and listened to some Willie Nelson" the day before. Now that's a good gig. D.M.

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