10 Reasons Why We Loved Old Settler's 2019 Music Festival

Some of the Reasons We Love Old Settler's Music Festival

The 32nd Old Settler's Music Festival may have been my favorite of all of the 12 Old Settler's Music Festivals we've attended. The line-up was fantastic, the fans were fun, the camping was great, the vendors offered a variety of merchandise and food, the staff was excellent, and the weather cooperated. This was the second year that Old Settler's Music Festival has been in the new location near Dale and Tilmon (east of Austin and halfway and between Lockhart and Bastrop) and they've worked out the majority of the complex issues of moving to a new venue. The hundreds of volunteers and staff work hard to make sure you have an enjoyable experience. Old Settler's Music Festival prides itself on being a laid-back, positive, family-friendly experience and they ask that everyone keep that spirit alive by spreading the good vibes.

Old Settler's Music Festival 2019

Old Settler's Music Festival is one of our favorite music festivals and here are 10 of the reasons why:

  • Brandi Carlile the artists are some of the best and they come from around the world and most have won some type of award ranging from a Grammy to Best Folk Album or Best Folk Songwriter, Song of the Year, Musician of the Year, Hall of Fame Inductee, and more
  • there is an excellent mix of music including folk, rock, blues, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, pop, country, Tex Mex, more
  • the stages are within walking distance to the campgrounds
  • the fans and staff are friendly, fun, and a pleasure to be around and when the music starts the talking stops - and they keep the area around them clean
  • the VIP passes include free dinner on Friday and Saturday; lunch on Saturday; free beer, wine and soft drinks; a covered area with tables; air conditioned clean potties; and a viewing area in front of the stage - the best way to go if you can afford it
  • Kids at Old Settlersit's kid and family friendly with lots of stuff to keep the kids entertained and happy during the music
  • the stages have plenty of room to spread out blankets and lawn chairs and still have a good view and excellent acoustics
  • there are a variety of vendors selling a wide range of excellent food, drinks, merchandise, or a massage
  • the campground is always packed (it's impossible to not meet some new fun fellow music lovers) but the campers are friendly and outgoing, the campground is alive with jam sessions, and there is usually enough generators to provide electricity to everyone
  • the line-up always has a few of our favorite musicians (like Hayes Carll, Wood & Wire, or Shinyribs) or artists we've enjoyed at Old Settler's Music Festival before and lots of artists we may have heard of but never seen (like Jason Isbell or Brandi Carlile) and several that are pleasant surprises (like Mandolin Orange, James Hunter Six, or John Moreland) that we can't wait to see again plus several we have seen and thoroughly enjoyed at previous festivals like Shinyribs who is always fun and enjoyable
  • the "vibe" is superb and Brandi Carlile described it best: "What a great vibe and fun festival for us, it feels like we're playing around a campfire with friends and family!"

Old Settler's Music Festival Campground Music on Thursday

Campground StageThe music officially kicked off on Thursday on the Campground Stage which is located at the top of a loop that circles the Banjo Campground. This stage is small (compared to the main stages) and set under the trees which makes it more intimate and easy to get to the front of the stage to enjoy your favorite band. In addition to a great setting and excellent lineup, what I like about the Campground Stage is that you can bring in your cooler as well as your lawn chairs. Across the street from the campground stage are several vendors selling everything from apparel to some good food - Asian noodles, delicious grilled cheese, empanadas, and burgers. You can also buy beer, wine, and some of the artist's and festival's merchandise.

Wednesday night was open mic on the Campground Stage and Thursday nights campground line-up included:

  • Feeding Leroy - getting some attention from last year's late night campfire circles, they have a good gospel undertone - unfortunately we missed Feeding Leroy
  • Jaimee Harris - originally from Waco, Jaimee has received nominations for "Best Folk" and "Best Songwriter" in 2019 in part because she paints the highs and lows of life with a low growl and high tremble with edgy, lavish melodies
  • Mipso - a traditional string band with a variety of contemporary influences with unconventional tuning, intricate acoustic arrangements, and gleaming harmonies

Feeding LeroyJaimme HarrisMipso

  • South Austin Jug Band Reunion - what a fantastic reunion after a breakup over 15 years ago, they had the crowd standing and cheering throughout their set
  • Paul Thorn - you can't help but love Paul Thorn's humor, stories, and muscular brand of roots music with his gravely voice

South Austin Jug BandPaul Thorn

Hard to beat an excellent lineup, a fun crowd, music under the trees sparkling with a variety of colorful lights, and stars twinkling high in the sky - what a way to start the festival. Paul Thorn was very entertaining and South Austin Jug Band was fantastic!

 

Friday's Line-up at Old Settler's Music Festival

Black's BBQ StageOn Friday a Yoga Class started at 10 but I was still sawing zzzs. Yoga was followed by an open mic on the Campground Stage, but I didn't find out about it until the last artist was playing. What I heard was very good and some fans told me that the previous artists were also excellent.

On Friday the music starts on the festival grounds (across the street from the Banjo Campground) which is home to a huge stage with excellent acoustics (Black's BBQ Stage) and a short 2 minute walk around the corner is the smaller Bluebonnet Stage. A full day of music started at 4:00 on both stages and included:

Original Black BBQ Stage:

  • John Moreland - he sings with tender, sauntering melodies steeped with profound penitence and he has a knack for stepping inside your heart and showing you the beauty within the sadness
  • Amanda Shires - she was winner of the Americana Music Awards Emerging Artist of the year in part thanks to her distinctive vibrato, flamboyant violin, and insightful imagery
  • Del McCoury Band - a legend of American Bluegrass with 31 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards plus induction into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame

John MorelandAmanda ShiresDel Mccoury Band

  • Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - wow what a fantastic set from a Grammy award winner who can tap into authentic anthems and the healing power of music, it's not surprising that Jason has emerged as one of the biggest stars and best songwriters in modern Americana music
  • Shinyribs - it's virtually impossible to describe Shinyribs because they are always evolving and this "country soul swamp funk" outfit has the pizzazz of a ferocious tent revival

Jason IsbellShinyribs

Bluebonnet Stage:

  • The Last Bandoleros - a fantastic set that blended Tex-Mex flair, charming Beatles-esque harmonies, Brit pop, and modern country
  • James Hunter Six - an English born modern R&B legend with suave vocal stylings that have been likened to the husky croon of Ray Charles
  • Robert Ellis - he loves sonic reinvention and is endlessly pushing musical boundaries with complex jazz arrangements and Beatles-esque oohs and ahhs as he sang and played piano in a long tail white tuxedo and white cowboy hat

The Last BandolerosJames Hunter SixRobert Ellis

  • Mandolin Orange - a husband and wife duo with melodies that are comprised of sage, juicy, and sophisticated lyrics and a mix of gospel, bluegrass, pop, and country that instantly entices you
  • Black Pumas - the award winning Austin Based Black Pumas are led by an award winning Grammy psychedelic guitarist

Mandolin OrangeBlack Pumas

What a fun full day of excellent music. Some wows go to Jason Isbell, Mandolin Orange, and James Hunter Six.

Music at Old Settler's Music Festival on Saturday

After a brief storm delay (it didn't rain, but threatened to) the music started on the Blacks BBQ Stage at 11:00 and on the Bluebonnet Stage at 10:30 and included:

Original Black's BBQ Stage:

  • Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons - songster revivalists who perform acoustic blues, field hollers, fiddle and banjo breakdowns, and early jazz - we missed them because of the rain delay
  • Sara Grace & the Soul - named one of Houston's "Top Bands Under 21" and a highly ranked The Voice Contestant, Sara channels classic blues heroes of yesteryear
  • Los Legends - three legends (Flaco Jimenez, Ruben Ramos, and Rick Trevino), all three of which are Grammy winners, played and sang some excellent Mexican and Tejano music

Sara GraceLos Legends

  • The SteelDrivers - they perform their own brand of bluegrass soul with an authentic, rootsy feel
  • Samantha Fish - a winner of seven awards with a thunderous grit incorporating otherworldly guitar artistry delivered with a silky smooth voice
  • Hayes Carll - Grammy nominee and winner of seven honors, his shows incorporate his natural wit and a technique that directs his audience to value life's moments

The SteelDriversSamantha FishHayes Carll

  • Brandi Carlile - a seven time Grammy nominee and winner of three Grammies, Brandi has become the face of modern folk with powerful, emotional storytelling, and haunting harmonies
  • Galactic - this New Orleans based group carries the spirit of Mardi Gras with which gives one the feeling of a block party on Bourbon Street with multi-faced sonic grooves and funk pop 'n' roll with progressive sound, modern rhythms, and electronic instrumentation

Brandi CarlileGalactic

What a fantastic day of superb music which started an hour late thanks to an approaching storm, that didn't really materialize. But wind made the evening very cold, in fact, so cold we left early shivering and missed Galactic. We loved Hayes Carll's set and it was easy to see why Brandi has won 3 Grammies. Her set was in the top five sets I've ever enjoyed - outstanding!!!

Bluebonnet Stage:

  • Youth Talent CompetitionYouth Talent Competition - 10 young (12 to 17 years old) talented singer/ songwriters competed for recognition and a set on the Bluebonnet Stage
  • Workshops with Wood & Wire - Wood & Wire turned their workshop into an enjoyable 45 minute set
  • Youth Competition Winner - I didn't catch the winner's name but I did enjoy his voice and 30 minute set
  • Workshop with Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons - I missed this
  • Penny & Sparrow - this folk-rock duo champions prismatic harmonies with a lucent, acoustic sound and they have a unique capacity to make a large venue feel as intimate as a cozy listening room
  • Wood & Wire - they have evolved into a remarkable force in bluegrass thanks in part to a solid, authentic song craft that's resulted in a Grammy nomination and award for Best Folk/Bluegrass
  • The Lone Bellow Trio - this indie folk trio fashions songs about transcending from the ashes of personal hardship with a church like quality that coaxes audiences from jubilant foot-stomping singalongs to euphoric calm

Penny & SparrowWood & WireLone Bellow Trio

  • Paul Cauthen - he plays the 1960's nostalgia with head-bobbin, hip-shaking melodies, and a butterscotch baritone reminiscent of Johnny Cash and a commanding presence similar to Waylon Jennings
  • Wild Child - this Austin based seven-piece folk pop mini-orchestra doesn't fit in a box - the cold wind drove us back to the RV before they started

Paul CauthenWild Child

Penny & Sparrow were superb (excellent harmonies, great personality, and very entertaining) and their rendition of a Simon & Garfunkel song was entertaining and sounded just like Simon & Garfunkel. Wood & Wire were also outstanding!

 

Old Settler's Music Festival Lineup on Sunday

On Sunday the campground stage came alive with a Sunday Service and an excellent lineup that included::

  • Gospel Surprise - Shinyribs was joined on stage with a gospel choir
  • Jeff Plankenhorn - a multi-instrumentalist that moves effectively through folk, country, blues, bluegrass, gospel, and rock and roll
  • Ley Line - world travels inspired this band to blend rhythms from Latin America, Brazil, and West Africa to create an infectious groove with multilingual harmonies

Gospel Surprise with ShinyribsJeff PlankenhornLey Lime

  • Ida Mae - this husband and wife team sing together with an unusually seductive "which-is-which" dynamic while combining classic rock chic with sumptuous, hip swaying blues rhythms
  • Shinyribs - it's not surprising that Shinyribs won "Album of the Year" and for three years in a row they won "Best Band of the Year - they are clearly the cure for what ails you and the Congo Line Kevin led through the crowd got everyone on their feet

Ida MaeShinyribscongo line with shinyribs

We knew we were in for a special treat when 10 musicians entered the stage with a wide variety of instruments and they were followed by trailblazer Kevin, the leader of Shinyribs, dressed in a yellow pinstripe suit, yellow cap, blue shirt and blue swede shoes, a yellow tie, and a blue guitar - and we weren't disappointed. Shinyribs and his congo line dancing through the fans was the perfect ending to an outstanding 3 day festival.

Camp Shhh Times at Old Settler's Music Festival

camp shhh timesFor over 10 years, a group of music-obsessed fanatics and super fans (those that can party till the sun comes up) known as Team Goodtimes created a magical music experience for campers' late night entertainment from a combination of campers and artists singing and picking around the campfire from when the main stage music ended until the wee hours of the morning. To continue this tradition, Camp Shhh Times was formed. Late night fans number from 50 to 500 and are gathered intently around a small tucked-away wood stage to watch and listen in absolute silence and wonder. Camp Goodtimes brings the intimacy of a listening room with a lineup of world-class musicians. The music starts at 1 AM, the bands play unplugged, and the lineup features Old Settler's performers as well as some of the Goodtimes artists. Located on a small hill (Buddy's Hill) adjacent to the stage area, Camp Shhh Times included:

  • A Kid's Talent Show for kids 12 and under at noon on Sunday
  • Thursday included Mipso, John Elliott, and Batty Jr.
  • Friday was South Austin Jug Band, Calliope Musicals, and MIDDLESPOON
  • Saturday Wood & Wire, Ley Line, and McMercy Family Band played until 4 AM

Food, Arts & Crafts, and Kids Village at Old Settler's Music Festival

This year there were 15 different vendors serving some very tasty morsels like: BBQ, Asian noodles, kettle corn, empanadas, Torchy's Tacos, tamales, pizza, Venezuelan cuisine and lots more. Around the perimeter of the main stage and interspersed with the food vendors are several artisans from around the region that showcase and sell their goods that range from art to jewelry to clothing and a variety of crafts plus a massage and photo booth.

Old Settler's Music Festival VendorOld Settler's Music Festival VendorOld Settler's Music Festival Vendor

Old Settler's Music Festival is very kid friendly and there are lots kids enjoying the music, meeting new friends, and taking advantage of the kid's village which included: a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, bounce house, play zone, bubble wands, jugglers, hula hoops, and more fun stuff. Click on this page to see more pictures from 2019 Old Settler's Music Festival

Petting zoo at Old Settler's 2019 Music Festival Kids activities at Old Settler's 2019 Music Festivalkids activities at Old Settler's 2019 Music Festival

Old Settler's Music Festival Camping

A large part of what we love about Old Settler's Music Festival is the camping in wooded areas or meadows - it's the best way to enjoy Old Settler's Music Festival. You can stay up for the late night music or picking in the campground and not have to worry about parking and driving home. There are three major areas for camping: Camp Collins for tent camping only; Camp Banjo for tents, travel trailers, and motorhomes; and Camp Armadillo for tents, trailers, and RVs. Camp Collins and Camp Banjo are on the edge of the stage and vendor area and Camp Banjo is home to the Campground Stage. Camp Armadillo is around 800 yards from the stage area. Generators for electricity, porta potties, and water are spread throughout Camp Banjo and Camp Armadillo.

Camping at Old Settler's 2019 Music Festivalcamping at Old Settler's 2019 Music Festivalcamping at Old Settler's 2019 Music Festival

The view from our front windowIf you're camping with a trailer or RV, you need to arrive early in the week (a lot of campers come in on Sunday) to pick a good spot or get a site close to a generator - there are no designated sites and it's all first come first serve. By Friday night Camp Banjo is packed with colorful tents of all sizes, a variety of RVs from old VW buses to $300,000 motorhomes, to hammocks, and even some couches. On Thursday we could look out the front window of our motorhome and all we saw was grass and trees. The picture on the right is what we saw when we looked out our front window on Saturday morning! Groups of fans who come every year have formed circles of friends and family and they have names for their camps and very elaborate set ups. A free golf cart shuttle runs continuously to take you anywhere on the grounds of Old Settler's. There is also a bus selling RV Parts plus trucks that come around to fill your RV with water or dump your RV holding tanks.

The campground is always alive with the smell of good food cooking, laughter, and music and picking circles. I ask one guy who came down from Canada for the festival how he liked the main stage music and he said "what little I saw was good but I'm not here for the stage music, I came to join in the jam and picking circles in the campground!"

Glamping tent for rent at Old Settler's 2019 Music FestivalIf you don't have an RV, there are several RV rental companies that will rent you one and some will even deliver the RV and set it up in a campsite for you - how great is that! There are also some furnished camping and glamping tents for a fun and hassle-free experience that you can rent and they sleep 2 to 4 people. As an example, the deluxe bell tent for 4 people includes: friendly front desk service; 4 twin air beds and crate tables; linens, pillows, towels, and blankets; 4 Welcome Packets with essentials like eye masks, ear plugs, sunscreen, and tickets for showers; and more and best of all a cooler with complimentary beer!

Old Settler's Music Fans Are The Best

A large part of what makes Old Settler's Music Festival one of the best are the fans. The fans are a good mix of young families, old hippies like myself, free spirits, and just about everything else. Common to all of the fans is a love of music, good times, and a desire to keep the Old Settler's Music Festival vibe alive. The fans are friendly, outgoing, and courteous to the artists playing and sensitive to keeping the grounds clean and litter free. Each year we make several new friends and acquaint with others we've met at previous festivals. Click on the link to see more Old Settler's Music Festival Fans.

Old Settler's Music Fansfans of Old Settler's Music FestivalOld friends at Old Settler's 2019 Music FestivalOur thanks go out to Jean Spivey (executive director), Sage Allen (director of site operations), Mike Hanley (production manager), the sound crew, and the hundreds of staff and volunteers that make Old Settler's Music Festival one of the best music festivals in Texas and fun for all of us! See you next year.

Jean Spivey Executive DirectorVolunteers at Old Settler's Music FestivalVolunteers at Old Settler's Music Festival

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