Frio River Song Festival
When I opened an email from Owen Temple, one of our favorite Texas singer songwriters, announcing his Frio River Song Festival on August 6th and 7th, I immediately uttered "done deal, we're there!" And I started doing a some research on where to stay and what else there is to see and do nearby where the music was playing. It didn't take much to convince Mrs. Texas Outside, our daughters and their family, my brother and his girlfriend, and some close friends to join us for what looked like a fun filled three days of music, swimming in the Frio River, golf, and more.
The music Friday night was being held in the backyard of one the Frio Country Resort rental cabins and Saturday night at Frio Country Resort's House Pasture Cattle Company. After some research on cabins and rentals at Frio Country Resort, we booked a two bedroom cabin with a loft that would comfortably sleep all 10 of us. Frio Country Resort offers an impressive and wide variety of lodging options ranging from rustic cabins for two people to upscale well appointed houses that will sleep 14 or more. Our cabin had a view of the Frio River and within two minutes from our cabin we could be swimming in the Frio River's cool water. The cabin had a large living and dining area with a fireplace, comfy furniture, and a large oak dining table. The kitchen had everything we needed including a dishwasher, toaster, microwave, large refrigerator, and blender for the margaritas, plus pots, pans, and utensils. A loft upstairs had two double beds and the two bedrooms downstairs also had two double beds. The patio out the front door faced the river and had a picnic table and a couple chairs - a perfect place to play games, sip a cup of coffee in the morning, or sip a cold one and relax after a fun day on the river.
Not long after unloading our gear and popping a couple cold beers, we were off to our first night of music at the Owen's Frio River Music Fest. Owen purposely kept Friday night's music limited to a small number of fans to keep it intimate and special. In fact, passes for Friday night's acoustic show were only available to subscribers of the email lists of Owen Temple or Adam Carroll - so sign up for their email list now, you don't want to miss next years performance.
And Friday night was truly a memorable evening. Just outside the back door of one of the Frio Country Resort cabins Owen and Adam had set up some speakers, mics, and a couple chairs for the musicians around which we set up our lawn chairs and coolers. It just doesn't get any better than sitting under some mesquite trees and a clear star lit sky listening to some fantastic Texas country music.
After drawing names from a bucket with a number on a beer bottle to determine the pairing order, two very accomplished Texas singer songwriters, took their seats in a couple metal folding chairs facing a friendly dedicated group of music fans. Owen Temple and Mark Younger started this fantastic evening of music. They rotated songs with each musician typically playing four songs each before the next two took their turn. Occasionally another performer would join in to play the guitar, blues harmonica, or harmonize. Owen's rendition of Dry Creek was great and we were sorry to hear that "the mean little old lady Sara" who owned Dry Creek had passed away. When Owen was introduced to Sara as the singer who helped make Dry Creek famous, she stated "who told you to do that?" In fact, Owen was asked to perform Dry Creek at her memorial service and he swears he heard her yell "get out of here!" during the service. A good laugh! Mark Jungers brought us back to reality with "My Dog Daisy" about his best friend's death. Mark's songs don't seem to easily fit into any one category and he sings and plays gutsy, unpretentious music filled with spirit and spontaneity.
Susan Gibson and Jason Eady had picked beer bottles labeled two and three and were up next for their set. Susan Gibson's smooth voice singing songs about real life and touching stories was a real pleasure. In fact, her song about her niece with "big blue eyes and a mouth that can say whatever it wants" reminded us of our granddaughter. Jason Eady was outstanding - great voice, outstanding lyrics, very upbeat, and full of energy. He's trying to bring country music back to its roots.
Next up was Travis Linville and Michael O'Connor. Travis has a soft, melodic voice and plays a mean harmonica. His soulful songwriting seems to come out effortlessly and the songs are clever and thoughtful. And Michael O'Connor is a very accomplished guitar picker and a fabulous singer songwriter with songs that ring of truth. What makes O’Connor stand out is his innate sense of humble integrity, his passion for playing music “for the sake of the song” and, well, simply the fact that in his mind, success has nothing to do with stardom and everything to do with getting to do what you love for a living — and best of all, doing it with friends.
Adam Carroll and Kevin Higgins closed the evening with a fantastic set. Adam's wry wit, sense of humor, amazing sense of melody, and his songs about his observations on life, people, and the places he's seen on his journey is a real joy to listen to. Adam also joined a couple other sets and displayed his talent at playing the harmonica. Adam had Owen join him for a hilarious "My Grandpa." And we loved Kevin, who with his wife Barbara are the famous Dust Devils - what a balladeer and his music and lyrics touch the heart, mind and soul. We loved his poignant song about growing up in Texas which he has been working on for several years and it's still a work in progress with more than 13 humorous versus that he played for us - we could have listened to the remaining 26 versus.
Kevin was sitting in for Roger Marin, a Canadian singer songwriter, who couldn't make it - the border guards turned him away and wouldn't let him cross. We're not sure which rumor is true - that the border guards turned him back because he had 150 CDs and only one pair of levis or that Kevin paid the border guards to keep Roger out so Kevin could sit in for him. They did gave Roger a call and thanks to technology he was able to sing us one of his best ballads over an iPhone plugged into the speakers! Adam and Owen played together to end the evening.
Each of the performers sang songs that celebrated and represented rich portraits of a time, a place, or a person that touched their lives. Between songs most of the songwriters told some stories and tales or provided some background information about their songs - making it very funny as well as informative. And what a perfect setting under the trees and a sky full of stars with outstanding music and a fun friendly small crowd.
A great way to kickoff the weekend.
Saturday we all slept in and after a leisurely breakfast we grabbed our lawn chairs and coolers and headed down to spend the rest of the day enjoying the Frio River. When we were there the Frio River was gently flowing with barely enough water to navigate down river in tubes, kayaks, or rafts. The water is clear and cool and it's a beautiful setting with the tall trees and rolling hills lining the river bank. We found a a deep pool, set up the lawn chairs, popped a cold one and spent the rest of the afternoon in the river. We were right next to a little chute that was fun body rafting down - my big bottom found the rocks quite frequently and if I could have seen it, I'm sure it would have been black and blue. And we got to watch all the tubers negotiate their way down the river. It's amazing what you'll see and hear as the friendly tubers float by - boom boxes blaring with everything from country to jazz, tubes of all shapes and sizes, a wide variety of contraptions to hold food and drinks, plus canoes, kayaks, and rafts full of fun loving people of all ages having a great time.
Some of us sat in our chairs smack dab in the middle of the river, others took hikes up to the top of one of the nearby hills, some moseyed up and down the Frio River in search of a perfect swimming hole, and the grand kids had a blast enjoying the refreshing river on a hot day. Fun afternoon in the river. You can rent tubes, kayaks, or rafts from several different locations, including the Frio Country Resort. All of the tube rental locations provide a shuttle service.
All too soon it was time to drag our water logged bodies back to the cabin to get ready for dinner and the evening's music, both of which were at House Pasture Cattle Company. The House Pasture Cattle Company is a part of Frio Country Resort and they serve some great food at reasonable prices and have a fantastic covered outdoor pavilion with a stage for music. Adjacent to the outdoor pavilion is a big patio with picnic tables, a grassy area with horseshoe and washer pits, a kids playground, and a bar area.
The House Pasture serves a variety of appetizers, salads, and entrees including steak, chicken fried chicken, ribs, pork chops, fish, hamburgers, and lots more. You can eat inside, under the pavilion, or out on the patio area. We made sure we got there early to get a table under the pavilion and right in front of the dance floor and stage.
Around nine, Owen brought out the bucket with numbered beer bottles to set the line up - and the music started. Saturday each of the musicians from Friday night were accompanied by a very talented band made up of some of the performers playing guitar and harmonica plus a drummer and a base fiddle - they were fantastic and sounded like they had been playing together for years. Saturdays line up included everyone from Friday night plus Walt Wilkins and his wife Tina. Walt is one of our favorites with his band, the Mighty Mystiqueros, and their family of pickers, poets and wild spirits continue their life's work of traveling and entertaining anyone and everyone possible with songs of real life, love & all good things.
Each singer songwriter played four or five songs and in several instances the stage was full of four or five singers playing and singing together. Amazing and what a fun evening of outstanding music, good food, a perfect setting, and a fun lively crowd that kept the dance floor full. All too soon the music ended and it was time to head back to our cabin.
The Frio River Song Festival was put on in partnership with the Texas Music Heritage Foundation which was established in July 1987 to preserve and perpetuate the traditions of Texas music, to examine the background of Texas music, to trace influences and patterns in Texas music and to document the role Texas music has played in society, and to provide free educational programming to the Texas community. A worthy cause and one that could use your support and donations.
Sunday we drove past the House Pasture on our way to play Frio Country Resort's 18 holes of championship golf at The Club at ConCan. What a fantastic course - fun, challenging, and scenic with a picturesque and interesting layout. This course is no walk in the park and it will test you skills but if you pick the right set of tee boxes you'll have a very memorable and enjoyable round.
You'll encounter water, some narrow and tight approaches, fairways that are ample and forgiving, challenging elevated greens, dog legs, and enough sand to give your sand wedge a good workout. When we played the conditions were very good and the green fees are reasonable. Read our review of The Club at ConCan to learn more about this outstanding golf course.
The Club at ConCan is also home to a spa with a variety of services (which we could have used after a round a golf) and a fantastic patio and grill. We called the non golfers and had them join us for a good lunch and some cold beer in a very picturesque setting.
On the way back to our cabin to check out, we decided on one last adventure - a helicopter ride over the Frio River and surrounding hills. For a very reasonable price, Holt Helicopters will give up to 3 people a fantastic helicopter ride over some very scenic and beautiful Texas Hill Country. There are no doors on this small helicopter which means you have a thrilling ride with nothing to block your view. And as you fly over the houses, river, ranches, golf course, and rolling hills you can talk to the pilot (Dusty was our pilot and he was great) as well as listen to his comments and stories about the area. What a fun way to end an outstanding weekend.
We can't wait to do it again next year. Sign up for Owen's and/or Adam's newsletter so you can get an invite to next year's event. We hope to see you next year!
Our thanks to Jenny Blair, a fantastic photographer, for some of the above music festival pictures. Check out her website.