Every March I start to get excited about attending one of our favorite music festivals, Larry Joe Taylor's Texas Music Festival in Stephenville. Larry Joe's Festival is six long days of music with over fifty singer songwriters. Six weeks prior to the festival I need to start getting ready for it, which means:
This ritual has been going on for over ten years. And after the festival I typically need a week or more to get back in shape - I take some naps and sleep ten hours a day, I go on a strict no beer diet, I stand as much as possible, and I practice speaking in a lower voice because I don't need to yell over the music to be heard.
Camping at Larry Joe Taylor's Music Festival
It's worth all that prep for six days of excellent music from some of the best Texas bands and singer songwriters, camping, some of the best people watching in Texas, and lots of singing and dancing and laughing. For the last several years, Larry Joe's Festival has taken place on his Melody Mountain Ranch which has over 380 acres for camping and music located about six miles north of Stephenville. A few months before the festival, the campsite reservation line opens for campers to reserve the same site that they had the previous year. A week or so later, first time campers can call to reserve a site or to check if one of the 250 water and electric sites is available.
Two weeks before the Festival starts, the staff spends several days staking out each of the over 4000 campsites. The advantage of this system is that you know you'll always have a campsite in the same location with all of your friends and neighbors from the previous year - we've had the same site for the last 8 years and it's fun reacquainting with people we've meet the previous year. Some of the sites are shaded and around a cluster of trees, several have water and electric (very hard to get but a handful do come open each year) and most are in open fields. There is a new VIP camping area with water and electric which is 200 yards behind the main stage.
As you meander through the campground you'll see campers and tents of all sizes and shapes - converted school buses, $300,000 motorhomes, small tents, hammocks, mattresses in the back of pickups, horse trailers, and lots of travel trailers. The campground is always alive with the smell of something cooking, campers playing games, fire pits surrounded by singers and pickers, and music fans just sitting in a camp chair relaxing or trying to recover from a late night of music and partying. Camping is the best way to thoroughly enjoy the Festival.
The Taylor's provide a lot of services to enhance the camping experience during the Festival - cruising through the campground on a regular basis are guys selling ice as well as water and pump out services for the RVs. There is an area with hot water showers for a small fee, and there is place to buy another case of beer. If you don't want to camp, Stephenville is just six or so miles down the road and it has lots of lodging options and there's a shuttle that you can call to get you to and from the Festival.
The Music at Larry Joe Taylor's Texas Music Festival
What started 28 years ago with a handful of musicians playing for a couple days to less than a 100 loyal fans has now morphed into 6 days of music from over 50 singer songwriters, 4 different stages, and over 55,000 music fans. Each year the Taylor's give the fans a great mix of some Texas legends, some new and upcoming artists, and some bands topping the country music charts. Every year there are several new artists that we get to hear for the first time and can't wait to listen to again. It's always great seeing some of our favorites like the Tejas Brothers, Gary P. Nunn, Davin James, Zane Williams, Walt Wilkins, Michael Hearne, Josh Weathers, Cooder Graw, Tommy Alverson, and of course Larry Joe Taylor and his excellent band.
This year's music started on Monday but unfortunately we were stuck in the mud at another festival and we missed Randy Brown and Gary P. Nunn. Here is the rest of the line-up for the week.
Zing Zang Stage
What a great day of music starting with delicious Zing Zang Bloody Marys and music with Thom and his friends and ending with one of the Red Dirt singers - Stoney LaRue. Dolly Shine, Josh Weathers, and Six Market Blvd were all excellent - what a way to start the festival.
Zing Zang Stage
It's hard to beat listening to some excellent music on the Allsup's Acoustic Stage and this year was no exception. The tribute to Chuck Pyle, who played at several of Larry Joe's festivals died this year, and Larry Joe was joined by several artists (Michael Hearne, Dave Perez, Heather Stallings, Daryl Dodd, and more) as they sang some of Chuck's best songs - a beautiful tribute to an exceptional singer songwriter and an all-around great guy! That was followed be a fantastic set by The Black Lillies and the always entertaining Zane Williams.
I survived the first couple days of excellent music, several hundred beers, a few Bloody Marys, a fun crowd, and some late nights. But there are still three more jam packed days to go.
The Thursday Music Line-up at Larry Joe Taylor's Music Festival
Zing Zang Stage
Zing Zang Stage
As usual the day started with a delicious Bloody Mary and a full day and night loaded with some excellent music - Michael Hearne and Cooder Graw are always one of our favorites and the Coalition (Dave Perez of the Tejas Brothers, Deryl Dodd, and Larry Joe) were fun, funny, and very entertaining, and the main stage lineup was excellent - and it's only Thursday night!
After the music stopped on the acoustic stage, Tommy Alverson played a great set on the Zing Zang stage.
A late night of music on Thursday forced me to sleep in and miss Bloody Mary Morning for the first time in a long time, but I made it to the Allsup's stage to catch a fantastic lineup which was followed by Tommy Alverson on the Zing Zang Stage and five more bands on the main stage - what an excellent day and night of music!
The Zing Zang Stage came alive once again at 10 with the energetic and always smiling Randy Brown and several special guests who joined him on stage for a few songs.
After the music stopped on the main stage, Dalton Domino started playing at T-Bird's Garage Pub's Main Stage.
Randy Brown was a great warm up act for the ever entraining Tejas Brothers, great songs and picking from Davin James and outstanding sets from Larry Joe and Roger Creager. Larry always concludes his show with sing-a-long and is joined on stage by whoever is still around like Deryl Dodd, Roger Creager, Keith Sikes, Tejas Brothers, and more and then Larry Joe goes to the front of the stage to sign some hats and tee shirts and greet his loving fans - a nice touch! This year Roger was prepared for the the beer flinging fans when he sang Love ("Love ain't what this song's about, it's about beer and whiskey and drinkin, It's about playin the fool and actin without thinkin") he and some of the band members put on raincoats and helmets as protection against the flying beer! See this video of Roger singing Love.
The Larry Joe Music Fans
Like Roger's Love song, Larry Joe's Festival is about music, campin', drinkin', good times, and lots of fun fans. This year's Festival drew around 60,000 music and party loving fans over the six days of the festival! It's some of the best people watching around! You'll see some strange outfits and costumes, large groups dressed in matching LJT shirts, plenty of beer bongs, creative ways to carry beer and chairs into the festival, hats of all kinds, various states of dress or undress, and a variety of games. The fans jam pack the front of the stage and as you move farther back from the stage it gets a little calmer and tamer! Lots of beer, wine, and whiskey is consumed and beer showers near the front of the stage are frequent. But it's a friendly, somewhat younger (all of Tarleton State College in Stephenville must be at the festival), and fun fan base. Click on this link to see more pictures of LJT fans.
The Texas Music Festival Vendors
With all that drinking, I was happy to find the the stage grounds surrounded by lots of food vendors as well as other vendors selling tobacco, shirts, camping gear, margaritas, games, and the artist's CDs and tee shirts. There must have been 20 different food vendors selling hot dogs, burgers, fajitas, sausage and chicken on a stick, turkey legs, BBQ, pizza, and lots more. New this year was Boxcar Bacon Shack which sold a variety of tasty morsels wrapped in bacon - I think I had three helpings for the 5 days! Another one of my favorites is the pizza from Crusty's Pizza Oven - steaming hot, tasty, and loaded with my favorite ingredients.
VIP Tickets At Larry Joe Taylor
If you're planning on attending next year's festival you might look into getting VIP tickets. Some of what can be included with the VIP tickets include:
Thanks to all the Taylors (Larry Joe, Sherry, Zack, and Martha), the volunteers, the security staff, and the rest of the LJT staff for making this one of the best festivals in Texas. See you next year!