The annual South By Southwest (SXSW) music conference and festival kicked off Wednesday (March 14) in Austin, Texas, as it has every year since 1987. It’s an exciting event for sure. But with over a thousand band scheduled to perform over five days at dozens of venues all over town, for fans, picking what to see can be a maddening experience. A little guidance is always useful–even for those not attending, who may still be very curious about this year’s hidden gems or most anticipated showcases.
The music at SXSW is all over the map–rock to country, blues to electronic, Latin to hip-hop, and all places in-between. In country, the biggest star appearance this year was Kenny Rogers, who had a brief guest spot during Lionel Richie’s showcase Wednesday night. But there are plenty more, from veterans like Billy Joe Shaver and Shooter Jennings, to newcomers like Jonny Corndawg and Lydia Loveless.
Below are 11 singers, songwriters, and bands who were among the most intriguing country-flavored artists playing SXSW showcase gigs this week. (And as always, if you have other favorites to add, let us know in the comments!)