4 p.m. / Thee Sgt. Major III
Thee Sgt. Major III is something of an odd duck in the otherwise folk-dominated Conor Byrne lineup, but hopefully the rock crowd will venture into the Irish pub for this (if they’ve rolled outta bed yet). Leslie Beattie’s big voice rides the wave of Kurt Bloch’s frantic guitar and a rhythm section of bassist Jim Sangster and drummer Mike Musburger. It’s just your standard rock lineup, but the band’s chemistry makes for fun shows.
5 p.m. / Roy Kay Combo
Though Vince Mira’s been getting a lot of attention for being the youngest man ever to successfully invoke the Man in Black, his sometime backing band, the Roy Kay Combo, also performs rockabilly on a par with some of our favorite ’50s heartbreakers. As a frontman, Kay evokes Buddy Holly–style rock crooning, furthered by springy guitar, juke-joint piano, and pseudo-barbershop harmonies.
6 p.m. / The Moonspinners
The Moonspinners play plenty of ’60s pop covers, but this lady-fronted five-piece writes originals too. The best of these cut the sweet bubblegum flavor of ’60s girl-group pop harmonies with discordant, frantic punk-rock guitars—and the lo-fi quality of the streaming demos the band offers up actually lends itself well to that vintage aesthetic.
9 p.m. / Nettle Honey
Nettle Honey’s homey bluegrass twang goes down like a big helping of your favorite comfort food. That the band consists entirely of vocal harmonies and acoustic strings (fiddle, banjo, guitar, upright bass) lends the music a sort of busker/jug-band feel, even though there’s no one playing kitschy (but fun!) stuff like washboards and, uh, jugs. Nettle Honey doesn’t need the gimmicks: The slightly-tweaked bluegrass style they’ve cultivated does well enough on its own.
10 p.m. / Carrie Clark & the Lonesome Lovers
Clark belts it out like a cabaret singer, but her songs incorporate so many styles of music— tango, jazz, classic country—that calling her a folk songwriter feels like a half-truth. But she’s not aimlessly flitting from genre to genre: She’s still honing her sound, sure, but her style has definitely taken on a distinct shape. Whether she’s singing a song that sounds like a number from an obscure, forgotten musical or a straightforward folk tune, Clark always sounds just like herself.
11 p.m. / Kristen Ward
Even when she’s singing happy songs, Ward’s throaty, expressive voice simmers with a passion and pathos befitting all the greatest, most timeless country front(wo)men. That’s not to say that all her songs are depressing, but there’s comfort for the heartsick in her drawl and the moan of the pedal steel. No matter what emotion she’s attempting to convey, Ward doesn’t hold back, and that’s what’s so compelling about her: that, and the low, soulful pitch of her voice.