Preview: Austin Blues Festival lineup features 30 Grammys and a Guy you might know


(2023 photo courtesy of Austin Blues Festival)

Before it gets hotter than it should be for an outdoor music festival, the 2024 Austin Blues Festival is offering a hot lineup boasting 30 Grammys, including a pair of Lifetime Achievement Award winners.

Scheduled for April 27-28 at Moody Amphitheater in Waterloo Park, the festival brings back 87-year-old blues legend Buddy Guy on his Damn Right Farewell tour. Guy is the headliner on Saturday, and Brittany Howard, who released her second post-Alabama Shakes album in February, has star billing on Sunday. (Shakes, which Howard fronted on its way to Grammy gold, has been on hiatus since 2018.)

Guy, the string-bending Muddy Waters protégé, included the 2023 festival in his farewell tour. But he postponed 13 dates late last year because of a “standard medical issue.” A review of his show in Savannah, Ga., last month indicates he’s back in good form. Guy, The Savannahian reported, “stalked the outdoor stage like a predatory cat, flinging out filthy blues licks like a machine gunner, and telling time-tested stories.”

Howard is an interesting choice to headline a blues festival. Her solo material covers a wider range of musical styles than Alabama Shakes’ soulful blues. Howard’s new album, What Now, is a sweeping mix of jazz-tinged soul, funk, hip-hop, and psychedelia.

“Our entire lineup plays diverse music,” said Zach Ernst, talent buyer for the festival and for Antone’s Nightclub. “The only factor in deciding who to book is, do they move our souls?”

Repping the hometown on the bill are Jimmy Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band with Sue Foley and Soulman Sam. The Blind Boys of Alabama (with Bobby Rush), Robert Glasper, Dumpstaphunk, Cimafunk, Big Freedia, and James Hunter join Guy and Howard atop the list of visiting performers. The Blind Boys join Guy as Grammy Lifetime Achievement winners on the bill.

Waterloo Greenway and Antone’s Nightclub are co-presenters of what is being billed as the “2nd Annual Austin Blues Festival.” The event is a revival of the Antone’s Blues Festival that ran in Waterloo Park from 1999 to 2001, featuring artists such as Guy and Ray Charles.

Gates open at noon each day.