Bill Childs: ACL Picks

Bill Childs is producer of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, a syndicated family music radio show distributed by PRX.  You can listen to Spare the Rock locally here in Austin every Sunday at 6 p.m. on KUTX. On Spare the Rock Records, he’s also released three benefit compilations of music for kids, including Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti, which has raised over $75,000 in relief for Haiti. Bill also co-produces many family-friendly music shows in Austin including the upcoming Hush Hush Music Bash happening on October 3rd, from 4-7pm. 

As usual, ACL has sneaked up on me, doubly so because I'm going the second weekend. But still, there's lots to see and here are some picks of acts that might be of particular interest for families!

First of all, the Austin Kiddie Limits stage is packed this year, albeit almost entirely packed with male performers.

Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players is as good as it gets in music for families -- ludicrously catchy songs with a direct line to the brain of kids and adults alike. Also on the first weekend's bill, Tim Kubart's new album "Home" is pure pop goodness, and to see him with Mother Falcon will be extra great (note that you can see them for free on Saturday 10/3 at the Hush Hush Music Bash at the Domain!

On the second weekend, Mister G, recently nominated for a Latin Grammy, will bring his bilingual fun to the stage (and keep an eye on Spare the Rock's Facebook and Twitter feeds for your chance to see him Thursday morning in a special exclusive in-studio at KUTX). Also on the second weekend, the Pop-Ups will bring their infectious electronic fun to the AKL stage. And finally, Emi Sunshine, a 10-year-old from Tennessee, will mix some Appalachian music in.

Longtime local favorite Big Don will get everyone dancing with his positive hip hop. And finally, Residual Kid and the School of Rock will each show your kids that they, too, can rock.

Outside the family area, the Tito's Handmade Vodka stage may be the best place to camp out as a family. Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops is mesmerizing, El Tule will get you all moving, and Kali Uchis will give the kids a great introduction to modern soul.

Elsewhere, the Decemberists' early evening set on Sunday is promising; there's a lot more humor to be found in their live shows than you might expect, and I've found that kids enjoy the storytelling that characterizes many of their songs.

But for me, a huge amount of the fun of ACL when my kids were littler was walking around and discovering what struck their fancy, especially on the smaller stages. I still remember walking back from getting a taco with my daughter, then probably 10 or 11, and seeing Frank Turner, whom I'd never heard of at the time, on the Austin Ventures stage. She said, "We should go watch that!" and he's been an absolute favorite of both of ours ever since. So go and explore!

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