The evening of Oct. 20 will be wrapped in melodies of American blues and retro soul as Deep Roots headliner Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears take stage at 8:45 p.m. Leading up to this performance, the mid-day shows begin at 2:45 p.m. with Rock U Allstars, Willie Watson and Lillie Mae, followed by a late night performance from The Norm at 10:45 p.m.
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
With over three million streams on Spotify, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears main act in the festival is a notable step for Milledgeville’s growing music scene.
The band’s lead man Joe Lewis picked up his first guitar working for a pawn shop in Texas, the first step toward his career as a blues musician. After a short solo career, Lewis joined with The Honeybears in 2007, and a year later the group signed with Lost Highway Records.
Lewis said their most recent 2018 album, “The Difference Between Me and You,” has brought back a measure of consistency to the genre of American blues.
“We just wanna make a real blues record,” Lewis said. “I feel like the last couple [albums], I was just kinda doing whatever I wanted, so like the cohesiveness of it was all over the place. This one is a little bit more of a story.”
This story presented in their fifth studio album stems from the band’s experiences together through the past 10 years and reflects a heavy personal connection to the industry.
“We’ve been through the ups and downs,” Lewis said. “We’ve had people coming and going, tryna burn us, you know, and [we are] now coming to a full realization where everything really is.”
Songs such as the album’s opener “Nothing but a Cliché” echo the band’s intended message with intimately detailed lyrics of mistrust and misfortune.
These personal tones were a clear focus for the group as they recorded the album in their hometown of Austin, Texas, allowing components of familiarity and reflection to come forward.
With Grammy award-winning producer Stuart Sike, Lewis and the band accurately captured the roots of American blues. Each track moves through key elements of the genre with repeating chord progressions effortlessly toned by soul and groove.
Joe Lewis & The Honeybear’s upcoming performance of their new album will undoubtedly bring a unique musical experience for those lacking familiarity with heavy blues.
Though headlined with the blues, the festival’s inclusion of Lillie Mae’s pop-infused Americana will bring a relaxed vibe to the scene leading up to the final shows.
From playing alongside Jack White to performing on Conan and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Lillie Mae proves herself to be a worthy candidate in the category of up-and-coming artists. Her acute country vocals and prominence of string instruments resonate with the Americana vibes of The Dixie Chicks, making for a performance not to be missed.
In keeping with the bluegrass atmosphere, Willie Watson’s longstanding musical career will be a captivating experience for folk-country music lovers.
Picking up a banjo in 1996, Watson became a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, until he broke off to pursue his solo career in 2012. Since then, Watson has continued creating and performing a classic rendition of the Americana-bluegrass.
By digging up the roots of a seemingly lost sound through his rustic banjo strums and raspy vocals, Watson will undoubtedly bring Milledgeville a 21st century folk revival.
Scan the QR code for a playlist of Deep Roots music!
Classic in a different way, a performance by Atlanta’s own Mother’s Finest will surely bring audience members to their feet.
This American funk-rock band first took the stage in 1972 with founding members Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy, Glenn “Doc” Murdock, Gary “Moses Moe” Moore and Jerry “Wyzard” Seay. Their fusion of funky melodies, R&B vocals, and deep rock instrumentals brought the band’s singles “Fire” and “Baby Love” to the top of pop charts during the mid-’70s.
Nearly 50 years after the fact, Mother’s Finest effortlessly thrills avid classic rock listeners with yearly tours including opening acts for Black Sabbath, The Who, Aerosmith and AC/DC. Bring your groovy dance moves for this once-in-a-lifetime show.
Perhaps the biggest genre-bender of the festival, Milledgeville’s own The Norm will bring a modern twist to the show with their musical blend of hip-hop and rock. Founders of the group Bryan Rucker and Ryan Bars were bound by not only their love for music, but their step-brotherhood as well.
Currently residing in Athens, the band has shared a stage with big name artists such as 311, The Revivalists and Moon Taxi, bringing them to life with college-aged audiences. With a new album expected to drop this year, The Norm will surely grow in popularity among the festival’s younger listeners.
Rock U Allstars
Last but not least, Rock U Allstars will take the Deep Roots stage for a second time after their first festival appearance in 2013. This uncommon group is made up of a young collection of musicians ranging in ages nine to 17.
Under the mentorship of David Shore, these kids break the stereotypes of who can perform rock-and-roll, playing classic rock shows all over Georgia.
This eclectic selection of performers is unmatched in talent and diversity, a perfect 15th anniversary show for Deep Roots. Attendees of this year’s festival are guaranteed a rare musical experience.
Photos Courtesy of Mason Jar Media