10 Reasons Why We Loved Old Settler's 2019 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 is one of our favorite music festivals and here are 10 of the reasons why:
The 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:
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!
On 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:
What a fun full day of excellent music. Some wows go to Jason Isbell, Mandolin Orange, and James Hunter Six.
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:
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!!!
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!
On Sunday the campground stage came alive with a Sunday Service and an excellent lineup that included::
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.
For 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:
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 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
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.
If 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!"
If 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!
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.
Our 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.