Smokin Grooves 2022 returns tomorrow, Saturday, March 18, this time at LA State Historic Park as the R&B and overall vibey festival promises to deliver to the sold-out crowd. If you’re checking out the festival this year, I’m sure you already have names like headliners Erykah Badu, Nas, Kamasi Washington, and Miguel circled. But if you’re looking for some new names to circle for earlier in the day, we’ve got you covered. These are our Smokin Grooves 2022 Can’t Miss Undercard Acts.
1:15 PM — Smokin Grooves Stage
You’ll wanna make sure you get to the festival early enough to check out Chicago-born neo-soul and R&B singer Ravyn Lenae, who has a 1:15 PM set time on the main Smokin Grooves Stage. After a waaay too long hiatus (she hadn’t released new music since 2018’s Crush EP — she’s returned with both barrels fully loaded in the form of a Steve Lacy collaboration called “Skin Tight” (listen below). With Steve Lacy performing later with The Internet, we’d be shocked if he didn’t join her on stage for a live rendition together. It’s yet another beautiful song in the repertoire of the Chicago singer. Can’t wait to hear more new stuff — and you will too after checking out her set.
Charlotte Day Wilson
1:35 PM — Jupiter Stage
Toronto-based singer/producer Charlotte Day Wilson released her debut album ALPHA in 2021 and she’s on this list because of a vocal quality that soars beyond most. We’re talking up there with Jessie Ware, Sade and shall we say Adele? Her mysterious, gospel-tinged down-tempo “Work” was released in 2016 and made its way into Season 1 of HBO smash Euphoria in 2019. Wilson was nominated for Songwriter of the Year, Producer of the Year and Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year in 2022 for her stunning acoustic tune “Take Care of You” featuring Syd.
Already, Wilson has broken through with an insane roster of collaborators on her debut including many of the best talents from Canada including BADBADNOTGOOD, Daniel Caesar, Kaytranada plus other talents such as Syd, King Princess, Meshell Ndegeocello and Amaare, and she’s been sampled by Drake. Wilson has been on a U.S. tour for the better part of March, playing Echoplex on Thursday with another show following Smokin Grooves on March 20 at The Constellation Room. Charlotte Day Wilson is also classically trained on piano and a multi-instrumentalist so it will be interesting to see what’s up her sleeve since there’s so much to show off.
— Michael Menachem
3:15 PM — Jupiter Stage
I first became a big fan of Phony Ppl in 2017 when I discovered them as a backing band for one of my favorite rising rappers Little Simz for her NPR Tiny Desk concert that year. Then you might have seen them pop up again in support of Megan Thee Stallion’s NPR Tiny Desk set in 2020. Their own Tiny Desk set in 2019 was incredible as well. It’s been a while since we’ve heard any of their own new stuff, but I’m hopeful they’ll have some news for us when they blow you away at 3:15 PM on the Jupiter Stage.
3:40 PM — Jupiter Stage
Listen — Anderson .Paak is one of my favorite performers not just of right now, but that I’ve ever seen. And a LOT of what separates him from the rest of the hip-hop pack is he has an incredibly talented band The Free Nationals backing him up. Pre-pandemic, they quietly dropped one of the best R&B albums of 2019 with their self-titled record — and it was absolutely loaded with impressive features — from Daniel Caesar and Unknown Mortal Orchestra to Syd, Kali Uchis and the late Mac Miller, and even the Paak man himself. With Paak busy with Silk Sonic shows in Vegas you won’t see him drop in — but these guys will be just fine on their own. If you miss their 3:40 PM set at the Jupiter Stage, you will regret it. Check out their collaboration with Syd from The Internet “Shibuya” below — she might even drop in considering The Internet plays a little later on that evening at Smokin Grooves 2022.
3:45 PM — Smokin Grooves Stage
We’ve seen Hiatus Kaiyote rip up a festival set early in the day before at Treasure Island 2018 — and they left us wanting even more. 2021 saw the Australian jazz and funk band release their latest record Mood Valiant — and it’s an incredible listen. “Red Room” is one of the most popular single from the record — if you’re a Nick Hakim fan with just a little less haziness, these guys will blow you away at 3:45 PM on the Smokin Grooves Stage. Singer Nai Palm has some sultry and alluring vocals that will have you swooning in no time.
If you’re headed to the festival, it’s very easy to get to on the Metro. Take the Gold Line train to Chinatown Station, and it’s a two-minute walk to the festival site from there. The bag policy for Smokin Grooves 2022 is small clutch bags are allowed — approximately the size of a hand (and not exceeding 4.5″ x 6.5″). Clear plastic hydration packs are allowed, as well as clear bags that do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″.
Have fun and drink water!