20 acts to see at Treefort in Boise — picked by the festival talent buyer. Some are free

It’s OK if you’re clueless about most of the acts at Treefort Music Fest, which invades downtown Boise from Wednesday through Sunday.

“That’s the point,” explains Eric Gilbert, the event’s co-founder and talent buyer.

Gilbert is stoked about some of the better-known names, such as indie folk-rock veteran Ani DiFranco. (“Really excited” in that case, he admits.) But there’s a special kind of joy in helping festivalgoers discover unfamiliar performers.

That’s why he pulls together a list of picks each year for Idaho Statesman readers.

“I want people to know bands they haven’t heard of,” Gilbert explains. “I’m excited about an opportunity to try and pull out some highlights from, like, 500 bands. It can be a little overwhelming.”

Here are acts curated for this article by Gilbert. Many, but not all, fly under the radar. He also offers brief descriptions of his recommendations.

For information about Treefort and to purchase passes, visit treefortmusicfest.com.

Rogê — 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, Treefort Music Hall, 722 W. Broad St.; 7:40 p.m. Thursday, Gene Harris Bandshell (free to the public), Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Blvd.: “Latin Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Brazil, he co-wrote the song for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. He and his all-star band will be awesome to see.”

Moon Owl’s Mages — 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Bandshell (free); 9:10 p.m. Saturday, Hound Lot (Bus Station), 339 N. 12th St.: “Young alternative psych-rock band from Boise. Been making waves over the last year with a couple of great records and starting to hit the road. They can really rip!”

Methods Body — 7:40 p.m. Thursday, Treefort Music Hall; 6 p.m. Friday, Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St.: “Performance duo that creates original sound art and music using custom tuning systems, polyrhythms and the cadences of language. From Portland and members have played at Treefort every year in various forms. This latest iteration is really starting to take off.”

Dusty & Stones — 10:10 p.m. Thursday, Hannah’s, 621 W. Main St.; 3:20 p.m. Friday, The Hideout, Julia Davis Park; 8 p.m. Saturday, Camp Modern (free), 1314 W. Grove St. “Two cousins from Swaziland, Africa, that formed a country band inspired by classic American country music. See the documentary about them at Filmfort and catch them several times at Treefort with a local backing band featuring several of Boise’s best.”

Blu DeTiger — 11:50 p.m. Thursday, Treefort Music Hall: “Well-known for her bass-playing and electro-funk-pop songwriting, Blu DeTiger will be playing Treefort for the first time with the DJ set version of her project, which also includes her on the bass.”

Leyla McCalla — 6 p.m. Friday, Bandshell (free); 8:20 p.m. Saturday, Basque Center, 601 W. Grove St.: “Beautiful combination of traditional Haitian tunes with her own unique folky sound — stoked for this one.”

Wazumbians — 6:30 p.m. Friday, The Hideout; 7:40 p.m. Saturday, Payette Brewing Co. (free), 733 S. Pioneer St.: “Afro-fusion group from Ghana — they were amazing at Flipside Fest in September 2022, and it was their first time in the States. We’re looking forward to having them back in Boise for two all-ages shows.”

Margo Price — 12:30 p.m. Friday, Idaho State Museum (Storyfort), Julia Davis Park; 8:30 p.m. Friday, Main Stage, Julia Davis Park: “Margo Price is our first country headliner! Although, her sound has expanded well beyond her outlaw country roots, especially with her latest critically acclaimed record ‘Strays.’ She is a rising singer-songwriter and author, and in addition to her Main Stage full band set, she is also doing a reading and discussion talk at Storyfort (‘Burning the Candle at Both Ends: Nabil Ayers and Margo Price reading and in conversation.’)”

Margo Price will perform twice at Treefort: Once as an author, another as a musician.
Margo Price will perform twice at Treefort: Once as an author, another as a musician.

Bibi Club — 6:20 p.m. Friday, Treefort Music Hall: “Canadian electro-pop rock — bilingual lyrics. Super vibey band from Montreal making their Treefort debut.”

Celisse — 7 p.m. Friday, Main Stage: Celisse came to Boise for the first time last summer to play Alive After 5 and melted hearts and minds with her larger-than-life soulful voice and guitar playing. She has been making waves playing guitar with the likes of Brandi Carlisle, Trey Anastasio, Dave Matthews and more. She will be a guaranteed highlight on the Main Stage this year despite having very little released, recorded music.”

You Said Strange — 7:50 p.m. Friday, Hound Lot (Bus Station); 6:40 p.m. Saturday, Neurolux. “Psychedelic jammers from Giverny, France — a good one for those who like long, trippy, toe-tappin’ jams.”

Butcher Brown — 9:10 p.m. Friday, Bandshell (free); 9:10 p.m. Saturday, Knitting Factory, 416 S. 9th St.: “Jazz meets hip-hop meets funk. Complex yet accessible sound featuring killer players.”

Lobo Lara — 9:30 p.m. Friday, Basque Center; 8 p.m. Sunday, Boise Brewing (free), 521 W. Broad St. “Local cumbia-electronic-hip-hop project on a growth trajectory. Popular around the Treasure Valley and catching more ears and eyes outside of the area with their latest release ‘Hijo De La Cumbia.’ “

Mauskovic Dance Band — 11 p.m. Friday, Basque Center; 9:30 p.m. Saturday, El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St.: Four of the five members of this band are family, Gilbert says, and the group is from Amsterdam. “Dancey, Afrobeat-groovy songs. They live up to their band name as a dancer.”

Louis Cole Big Band — 11:40 p.m. Friday, Treefort Music Hall: “Super-funky dance band with lots of instruments. Louis Cole’s writing is rooted in electronic, jazz-funk, hyper-pop, and much more. Pretty special to have his full big band in town for Treefort to bring it all to life on the new Treefort Music Hall stage.”

Lady Wray — 5:20 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage: “Gorgeous soul voice — she was signed by Missy Elliott at 15 then took a break. Now she’s at Treefort playing the Main Stage on Saturday late afternoon. We are all big fans and excited to have her play the festival for the first time.”

Rose City Band — 9:10 p.m. Saturday, Bandshell (free): “Long trippy jams, while tumbleweeds blow across the dusty deserts of your mind.”

Son Rompe Pera — 11 p.m. Saturday, El Korah Shrine, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Main Stage: “Marimba-led cumbia punks from Mexico City. Only recently making their way into the U.S. and quickly building a fan base here.”

Yaya Bey — 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Main Stage: “Buzzy R&B storyteller — great Sunday show right before our final headliner Leikeli47.”

Frankie and the Witch Fingers — 10:50 p.m. Sunday, Treefort Music Hall: “Psych-rock up-and-comers returning to Treefort for the first time in several years. They have carved out a niche for themselves as one of the leading purveyors of high-energy jammy psych-rock.”