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Larry Joe Taylor's Rhymes & Vines Music Festival Review - September 2012

It didn't seem like it was that long ago that we were at Larry Joe Taylor's Texas Music Festival, in April and what a fantastic 4 days of music at Melody Mountain Ranch, but we were excited to be back again for the 7th Annual Rhymes & Vines Music Festival. And it was another outstanding Texas Music Festival with excellent music, good food, close by camping, reasonable rates, and a fun loving small crowd.

Rhymes & Vines Music Line-up

We rolled in on Thursday afternoon - popped a cold beer, got the motor home level, set the chairs up in front of the stage, and reacquainted with our fellow campers and music fans while we waited for the music to start at 8. Thursday night was Mike McClure and Larry Joe taking turns playing an acoustic set followed by Billy Joe Shaver and his band. They had a good time together but when Larry Joe stuck a tennis ball on Mike's nose, the crowd went crazy.

Mike McClure clowing it up

Billy Joe has some great songs and when sings "If at first you don't succeed, well try, and try, and try again," he becomes very animated and passionate and you can't help but join him in a verse or two.

Billy Joe Shaver

Friday's Lineup started around 2 and included:

  • a cooking demonstration with Amy Kushnir
  • Kylie Ray Harris - soul, emotion, and raw energy coupled with a pure, soulful voice, perceptive songs, and expressive guitar playing is what sets Kylie apart as an exciting new artist
  • Blacktop Gypsy - three cute, sexy, and very good singers that put on a great show that was full of energy, good hard hitting music, wonderful harmonies, and excellent fiddling from the best fiddler in Texas (Heather Stallings).
  • The Damn Quails - the Damn Quails & the Quail Philharmonic band were fabulous and put on a show that filled the stage with talent and a sound that made all of us stand up and take notice of music styles that ran the spectrum and included most every instrument you can imagine some of which included a fiddle, squeeze box, saxophone, keyboard, and more - can't wait to see these guys again

Kylie Ray HarrisDamn QuailsblacktopGypsyblacktopGypsyHeather Stallings of blacktopGypsy

  • Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros - a Texas Hill Country Super Group with four great singers and four outstanding songwriters (all of whom have their own records flush with recording credits) who are likened to outlaw country and classic rock and Tommy Alverson joined Walt for his set

Tommy Alverson joined Walt's bandJimmy Davis Brian with Walt Wilkins bandWalt Wilkens Band MemberWalt Wilkins

  • Josh Weathers Band - a powerful army of talented musicians took us through an exhilarating set with R&B, funk, rock, and soul with a passionate and energetic performance leaving us wanting more
  • Six Market Blvd. - nominated for Best New Band for the 2012 Texas Regional Radio Music Awards these guys bring their blend of music to a new level with influences from Country, Americana, and Rock & Roll
  • Kevin Fowler - with a number of Texas chart toppers, his dynamic stage presence, well choreographed set, and music is "country with a bad attitude, an edge, and just beer drinkin', hell-raisin', good time music"

Josh Weathers BandKevin FowlerSix Market Blvd

Saturday was another full day of great music that started with a a cooking demonstration with Amy Kushnir and was followed by:

  • Matt Wayne - Matt's one part bottle-shooting southern rocker and one part Texas-raised songsmith, topped off with the burn of homemade shine and herpossesses what much of the rockers with so-called red dirt in their veins are sorely lacking - kick-ass southern soul
  • John David Kent
  • Davin James - his dynamic performance quickly embraces you with his soulful Gulf Coast blues, electrifying Southern rock, and deep hard roots country and someone said it well: "his guitar playing is as amazing as his unique voice, but if you tied those fancy boots together, he couldn't hum a tune"

Matt John David KentDavin James

  • William Clark Green - his no-frills delivery to convey personal yet universal lyrics's lures-in and relates his audience to real-life inspiration
  • Deryl Dodd - honky tonk "Pearl Snaps" double D sings and dances with pure adrenaline and emotion that's unmatched
  • No Justice - charting ten Top 10 singles and a pair of No. 1s, No Justice is a diverse band that's been inspired by a lot of different artists appeals to just about anybody, from 5-year olds to 50-year olds, from cowboys to punk rock chicks

Deryl Dodd

  • Tejas Brothers - these guys are our favorites (some would call us Tejas Brother Groupies!) - dynamic, talented, and fun to watch and listen to as they belt everything from Louis Armstrong to Willie Nelson and a sweet combination of Texas Country, Blues, Rock, and Tex-Mex - don't miss these guys if they are anywhere near you

Dancing Dave Perez of the Tejas Brothers

  • Larry Joe Taylor - LJT is another of our favorites and it just doesn't get much better than his engaging coastal blending of Texas country music and salty melodies reminiscent of the slow-paced, relaxed experience of island-hopping through a long carefree tropical vacation

Zack Taylor on the drumsLarry Joe Taylor jamming

Beer & Wine Competition & Food Vendors

Becker VineyardsLarry Joe Taylor's Rhymes & Vines is 3 days of music plus a beer and wine competition. This year there were several competitors vieing for the best beer, top wine, and the judges as well as the fans choice. After the winners were announced, the leftover beer and wine was available for sampling. Throughout the festival, some Texas vineyards (Becker vineyards, Flat Creek Estate Vineyard, Maydelle Country Wines, and Fairheaven Winery) were set up under a tent adjacent to the stage offering wine and samples available for sale.

Surrounding the perimeter of the stage are a number of vendors offering a variety of good food, merchandise, and other services. After sitting in your lawn chair listening to the music from 2 to midnight, you can't beat 30 minutes at the massage booth to get rid of the chair kinks or some of that stress from work. Or you can buy a cowboy hat, a hand made saddle, some excellent salsa mix, a variety of very tasty pecans, tee shirts, and CDs from the merch booth. And you won't go hungry - you can get everything from breakfast tacos and coffee to burgers, patty melts, fresh pizza, fajitas, or BBQ. In case you didn't bring enough beer to consume to the music, Larry Joe sells ice and cases of beer, and WOW sells some excellent frozen Pina Coladas, Margaritas, and more from their customized Airstream. WOW, Winery On Wheels, was new this year to Rhymes & Vines and I can tell you first hand that the Margaritas and Pina Coladas are fantastic!

Fired Up Kitchen Pizzas are deliciousWOW - superb margaritasExcellent patty melts at Katy's Cafe

One of the things that I look forward to each year at Rhymes & Vines are Katie Cafe's patty melts and Fired Up Kitchen's fresh made oven baked pizza! Both are tasty and you'll most likely want to have a couple of each during the festival - they do an excellent job of getting rid of the hunger pains as well as soaking up some of the beer!

Camping at Melody Mountain Ranch

Camping at Rhymes & VinesThe best way to relax, get into the groove, and have a blast is to camp and forget about having to drive after a full day of music and partying. Melody Mountain Ranch has over 200 acres available for camping and all of it is close to the music. There are several sites with water and electric hook-ups but most of them are taken by whoever had them the previous year - we've had our site for all seven festivals. Each year a few water and electric sites open up but you'll need to call early in hopes of getting one.

Even if you don't get water and electric, there are plenty of sites and room for everything from huge motor homes and 5th wheels to pop-ups, tents, or air mattresses in the back of your truck.

The campground is always alive with friendly folks cooking, playing games, socializing, or singing around the campfire. And you're always welcome to stop by and join the song circle or stop in and pop a beer and meet some new folks. Everyone is friendly and outgoing and here for some good music and good times.

Rhymes & Vines Texas Music Festival Fans

Another part of what makes Larry Joe Taylor's Rhymes & Vines enjoyable are the fans who attend for some good times, dancing, drinking, partying, camping, and music. Each year we get to reacquaint with people we've met at previous year's festivals as well as meet several new people. Everyone is friendly and outgoing. You'll find a diverse group ranging from toddlers to seniors to some crazy dancers and wild outfits. Larry Joe's April festival attracts around 35,000 fans and Rhymes is a fun smaller fan base of around 1500 or so, which means you can get up close to performers, sit in the shade under the stage's pavilion, and enjoy the music.

Rhymes & Vines 2012 Highlights

It's hard to beat this fantastic music festival with BYOB, close in camping, a small friendly music loving and partying crowd, good food, and good times. Here were some of our highlights from the 2012 Rhymes & Vines Music Festival:

  • Josh WathersJosh Weathers was unbelievable - a dynamic stage presence, incredible voice range from Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" to the high pitched "Stay Just A Little Bit Longer," and a delightful mix of rock & roll, R&B, and soul
  • The Damn Quails who had something for everybody - rock, pop, country, bluegrass, fiddles, guitars, keyboards, drums, mandolins, sax, steel guitar, and more
  • Six Market Blvd and "Cripple Creek" where several other musicians joined them on stage taking turns singing a verse
  • Davin James' foot stomping, spell binding, play it from bones set was hard to sit still for
  • it's hard to beat watching Heather Stallings having fun on stage and her unbelievable fiddle playing

Davin JamesCripple CreekCripple Creek

  • Fired Up Kitchen's pizza, the patty melt at Katie's Cafe, and WOW's frozen Margarita are to die for
  • Billy Joe Shaver - the "Wacko from Waco," and Texas country legend was at his best and is always fun to watch and listen to
  • the smaller, more intimate, mixed crowd of toddlers, college students, and seniors enjoying good times and doing some creative dancing was a joy to be around
  • as usual, the Tejas Brothers were energizing, entertaining, and enthusiastic and Larry Joe Taylor and Dave Perez singing "7 Spanish Angels" with help from Larry Joe on the accordian and Dave's rendition of "Beautiful World" were worth the price of admission

Larry Joe and Dave singing 7 Spanish AngelsLooks like Larry Joe is tickling Dave

  • Larry Joe Taylor's set was excellent and his tribute to Rusty Weir where he was joined on stage by most of Saturday's performers was a outstanding - long live Rusty Weir

Rusty Weir Tribute

Joe Dye taking care of his vendorsThanks to Larry Joe, Zack, and Sherry Taylor for putting together such a talented and fun group of bands and musicians for us to enjoy and then adding camping, BYOB, an excellent setting, ticket and camping prices we could afford, and much more to make this one of the best Texas Music Festivals. And our thanks to all the volunteers and help who make this event flawless - from the ticket takers, to the stage hands who don't waste any time transitioning to the next band, to the sound guys as well as the security team, and to Joe Dye for the excellent selection of vendors.

Don't miss Rhymes & Vines next year - see you there!