It's hard to think of a better headliner for the River Rocks Music Festival than Justin Townes Earle. The annual benefit for the Congaree Riverkeeper returns to the banks of the organization's titular river (near Founders Park) on April 13, with the lauded Nashville singer-songwriter crowning a nice lineup.
The pick sees River Rocks refinding broad appeal after diving deep into jam band/funk territory with last year's headliner, Dumpstaphunk. The son of Steve Earle, Justin is a revered presence on the Americana landscape, with a raconteurish ability to slide seamlessly through multiple styles.
2017's Kids in the Street offers ample proof of his flexibility. The album has tunes loose enough to please fans of The Band's laidback freewheeling, country weepers authentic enough to rival Joshua Hadley, pristine folk tunes to charm James Taylor acolytes, and crisp rockers that resemble Tom Petty during his rootsier moments. Earle should attract a wide array of — admittedly mostly white — music fans, which has largely been River Rocks' m.o.
Earle gets a couple of well-chosen S.C. folk-rock complements in the form of Charleston's Eagles-y Artisinals (led by former SUSTO member Johnny Delaware) and Columbia's recently revived Stagbriar. Also on the bill are Little Stranger, a jam-leaning hip-hop act that's a better fit at River Rocks than they were supporting En Vogue at the most recent Famously Hot New Year, and local reggae-roots stalwart THE Dubber.
Tickets are $12 in advance and will be available at riverrocksfestival.com and several local businesses.