Crude Fest Music Festival Review
This May, we attended our first Crude Fest in Midland and had a blast - literally and figuratively, the wind was blowing around 25 miles and hour and the music, fans, and camping was fun. Crude Fest started in 2009 when Cody Baker and his parents purchased 85 acres on the south west side of Midland, built a huge stage, staked out campsites, left lots of room for parking cars, invited all their friends and fellow artists, and then hoped that lots of music fans would attend. This year was the 5th annual Crude Fest and it is now the biggest music festival in West Texas - 3 days of real Texas music, 26 artist/bands, over 1000 campsites, lots of food and merchandise vendors, over 25,000 music and party fans, and unfortunately two tons of dust thanks to the wind - but who cares when the music is good, the food is tasty, the fans are lively, the campground is always alive with activity, and the beer is really cold! What a great time.
Crude Fest is all about Texas music, the Crude Fest fans, and good times - we'll talk about all of that in this review. But let's begin with this year's music which started on Thursday and the first night was dedicated to a small crowd of serious music lovers and included:
Song Swap with Thom Shepard, Mark McKinney, Rich O'Toole, and Blue Edmondson
Larry Joe Taylor's Pickin' Party with Dave Perez (Tejas Brothers), Mike McClure, Deryl Dodd, and Larry Joe Taylor
Chris Knight and his band
During the song swap, each of the artists sang some of their most popular songs, some of which are/were #1 on the Texas Music Charts - all four had great voices and it just doesn't get much better than sitting in your lawn chair under a full moon, 100 feet from the stage, listening to some excellent songs, and drinking a cold beer. We hated to see the song swap end but the next set was outstanding with Dave, Mike, Deryl, and Larry Joe taking turns singing or singing together. Deryl was his usually lively entertaining self and we love Dave and Larry Joe, particularly when they sing "7 Spanish Angels" and "When the Saints Come Marching In." Chris Knight and his band closed a fun evening.
On Friday the music started around 2:30 and keep going until around 12 PM and it included a dynamite line-up of :
Judson Cole Band - Chris Brazeal Band - The Damn Quails
Uncle Lucius - William Clark Green - Cory Morrow
Roger Creager - Casey Donahew Band
What a fantastic day of music - to a tee, we enjoyed everyone, but our long time favorites (Cory Morrow and Roger Creager) were hard to beat. Both are lively and dynamic entertainers, have several fantastic songs, sing with great voices and a tight bands, and both know how to get the crowd involved.
Most of us staggered back to the campground around 12:30 after a full day of music and eating and drinking and laughing and dancing and having a good time and turning red in the sun thanks to no sunscreen! We knew we had to get up and do it again on Saturday in time for the 1:30 start of another full day of music with:
Lenorah - Ali Dee - Johnny Cooper
Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights - Mark McKinney - Bart Crow
Cody Canada & The Departed - Aaron Watson - Josh Abbott Band
Lenorah, Ali Dee, and Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights were new to us and we enjoyed all three. Cody is a little too rocky for us but Mark, Bart, Aaron, and Josh are country to the heart and we loved each of their sets. A couple weeks previous to Crude Fest, we had gotten to see a number of the same artists at Larry Joe Taylor's 26th Annual Music Festival (here is a link to the review of Larry Joe's Music Festival) and it was a joy to see them again.
A vast majority of the attendees at Crude Fest camp and the campground is loaded with a wide variety of things to camp in - from tents to pop-ups to fancy horse trailers to travel trailers to luxury $300,000 motorhomes to a converted school bus as well as city transportation bus turned into a camper.
Each night when the music ended, the campground came alive with cruising ATV's, singing and giggling, plenty of beer or whiskey drinking, and lots of good times. In fact, each night of the festival, people seemed to have as much fun in the campground area as they did at the festival. I saw some neighbors with a smile on their face and a beer in their hand when I went to bed and a beer in their hand and droopy eyes when I woke up. The party at the trailer next to us went on all night and Saturday morning 6 people were still on top of the trailer (drinking beer and watching the sun come up) and two had apparently given up and fallen asleep.
Most of the day and after the music ends ATV's of all shapes and sizes loaded with people and beer coolers cruise the campground - and the Sheriff and his staff are also cruising the campground.
The Crude Fest Stage area is a large open field with a gigantic stage with a large jumbo tron which broadcasts the action from when the music starts to when it ends. Around 1:00 the fans start to migrate toward the stage for another day of great music and lots of fun.
The front of the stage is always packed and standing room only and if you're up front you're likely to get sprayed by water bottles or beer. But that doesn't seem to bother the fans who are having a blast enjoying the music.
The farther you go back from the front of the stage, the older and calmer it gets and it's back here that you'll find lawn chairs, canopies, blankets, games (washers, ping pong ball toss, etc.) and fans watching the action up front or watching the artists on the jumbo tron and listening to the music - acoustics are very good from the front to the back of the stage and even into the campground.
The fans ranged from teenagers to college age to young working folks to some of the older generation - and everyone was friendly and outgoing and here to listen to the music and have fun.
Some fans were drinking whiskey, most consuming beer or sipping bladders of wine or bottles of something alcohol, jello shots were common, and there were quite a few beer bongs, but very few fans were way out of control.
Some fans were napping, others playing games (like beer pong or washers) a few dancing, several were on shoulders to see the stage, a few were spraying water from squirt guns, and most paying attention to the music.
Some fans were under canopies, others under umbrellas, a lot on coolers, and most just sitting or standing in sun.
Around the the perimeter of the stage area are vendors selling a variety of merchandise (artist CDs and tee shirts, hats, and more) and food vendors with hot dogs, burgers, pizza, sausage wraps, fajitas, BBQ, kettle corn, fries, and lots more. We loved the Cajun chicken on a stick and we had 3 jalapeno sausage wraps with grilled onions!
Crude Fest was also home to the non- (braggin' rights only) State Championship Cook-off where the best brisket, pork spare ribs, chicken, beans, and margaritas could win up to $5000 in cash and prizes. And since Enchanted Rock Vodka was a sponsor, there had to be a Bloody Mary Contest. Unfortunately, I found out about all this just a little too late - I would have loved to be a judge for the ribs, margaritas, and Bloody Marys!!! I thought all of those big fancy BBQ grills were in the campground to cook up some grub for fellow campers.
From our perspective the best way to enjoy Crude Fest is with VIP tickets which can include a campsite closer to the stage, backstage access, a VIP area with a large tent with tables and chairs, free food, and a bar serving free beer, whiskey, and vodka. The VIP catering was by Barndoor Steakhouse and it was very good - one afternoon it was fajitas and all the fixin's and Saturday was beef in gravy, chicken and rice, mashed potatoes, and beans - and both days they served delicious chocolate cake!
After all these years of attending music festivals, it's great that we can still have some first time experiences. Some that we experienced at Crude Fest included:
13 mounted horse police from the Midland Mounted Patrol and late one night they were carrying a drunk to the festival exit between two horses
industrial oil field generators and lots of pick-up trucks
cigarette lighters, cell phones, cigarette packs, lipstick, and more stuck in brassieres or cowboy boots
lots of security who were friendly but tough and kept the crowd controlled - we didn't see any fights or trouble
90% of the women wearing fancy boots and very short cut off Levis
more beer cans in the trash cans than littered around the grounds
some nice touches like: huge water trucks constantly cruising the grounds to try to keep the dust down, lots of security, clearly marked campsites, and a large covered tent with tables and chairs to get out of the sun, listen to the music, and enjoy your meal
fancy ATV's seemed to be a major mode of transportation
most every sponsor had something to do with oil with Budweiser being one of the rare exceptions
campers and tents with oil derricks as the backdrop
Our thanks go out to Cody Baker and his parents, the volunteers and working staff, and the security staff for making this a fun festival. See you next year.