SXSW 2015: 21 Country-Music Artists You Need to See - Rolling Stone
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SXSW 2015: 21 Country-Music Artists You Need to See

Americana favorites, country icons and emerging talent to catch in Austin

SXSW 2015 country artists

Kelly Willis and Lukas Nelson are two must-see acts at SXSW 2015.

Lex van Rossen/MAI; Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Snoop Dogg may be giving the keynote speech and the schedule may be rife with indie bands, but there is still a wealth of country and Americana artists to be found at Austin’s annual music conference South by Southwest, kicking off March 17th. This year’s lineup boasts the return of Willie Nelson and guitar-slinging son Lukas at the Heartbreaker Banquet, the continued emergence of Sam Hunt and the welcome second acts of veterans Kelly Willis, Robert Earl Keen and Ray Wylie Hubbard. We sorted through the schedule for some of the singers, songwriters and twang-tastic players worth going the country mile to catch.

Pirates Canoe

Pirates Canoe

Pirates Canoe

Even the hippest of SXSW hipsters probably haven't heard of Pirates Canoe, but with a sound that's Alison Krauss-meets-Ry Cooder-meets Alan Toussaint, they're the skinny jeans from Japan that are destined to be fashionable stateside soon. The sometimes trio, other times sextet, mixes a dollop of Irish folk with a helping of fiddle, mandolin, guitar and percussion that beautifully complement — but never overwhelm — the singers' ethereal harmonies. Though based in Japan, the members met in a very Americana way; the story of Pirates Canoe's inception involves a bar, a violin case and a few adult beverages. That's not to say that the band has completely shucked its Asian roots for Nashville though. Consider "Gull Flying North," an uptempo mandolin romp that has just enough delicate tones to bring the Far East to mind.

Sam Outlaw

Harmony Gerber/Getty

Sam Outlaw

A Hollywood honky-tonker, Sam Outlaw filters the twang of his country influences through the Mexican-American culture of his Los Angeles home. The result? Angeleno, a debut album that mixes acoustic guitars, mariachi horns, James Taylor-worthy melodies and two-step tempos into the best culture clash this side of Linda Rondstadt's Canciones de mi Padre. Come for the breezy, brassy "Who Do You Think You Are?" — stay for "Jesus, Take the Wheel (And Drive Me to a Bar)," where Outlaw literally prays for a cold one.       

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