For the last 5 years I've anxiously awaited Thomas Michael Riley's Texas Music Festival in Luckenbach in late May and when the festival is over I've gotten my Thomas Michael Riley (TMR) fix that usually lasts for 4 days before I'm ready for more of his humor, good nature, infectious laugh, all of his good friends, and his great songs. And for the last 5 years I've claimed that his festival is at the top of our list of the best music festivals in Texas and my reasons for this claim haven't changed:
Luckenbach, population of 3, was founded around 1849 and is home to a cool dance hall that's seen the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Hondo Couch, Jerry Jeff Walker, and just about every other infamous and up and coming artist; a country souvenir store which was the original 1849 post office and is now loaded with Luckenbach paraphernalia; a hat shop; a funky bar; a feed barn with burgers, fries, hot dogs and more; a beer station; and a cool outdoor music stage under the oaks. A perfect place for a multi-day music festival.
Chickens, cats, and even a longhorn are at home in Luckenbach.
Just outside the dance hall and a short walk up the hill is the "Red Neck Riviera" where several of the TMR fans camp for the weekend. This year there were probably 30 or more RVs of various sizes and shapes parked with one wheel on the road so they wouldn't get stuck in the mud like last year. The "Red Neck Riviera" is always alive with people socializing and sharing a story or two after the music stops in the dance hall, TMR's campsite is the place to go for singin' and pickin' and laughin' and havin' fun until 3 each morning. And when everyone wakes up it's time for a Bloody Mary and another fun day of music. If you don't want to camp, Fredericksburg is only 10 miles down the road and you'll find lots of lodging choices from hotels to B&Bs to some cool cabins and cottages. If you want hook-ups for your RV, Fredericksburg KOA is about 5 miles up the road.
Thomas Michael Riley's Music Fans
The fans who attend TMR's Music Festival are a true reflection of Luckenbach's laid back attitude and TMR's friendly, sincere, and outgoing fun loving personality. The fans are older and mature and love music and good times. A lot of the fans are from nearby Fredericksburg and they all know each other and welcome newcomers. And the vast majority of the fans seem to know and love TMR who throughout the festival is mingling with the crowd, hugging or shaking hands, sharing a good tale and a laugh, and having a good time.
The Lineup at Thomas Michael Riley's Music Festival
Thursday night TMR had a sponsor party to say thanks to all the sponsors for helping make his festival and his dream happen. The party is at the Cave Creek Schoolhouse which was built in 1881. TMR and friends provide the music for a couple of hours and this year Dave Thomas, Tommy Alverson, Tom McElvain, and TMR sang to us as we ate, drank, danced, and reacquainted with friends. A good time.
Chicken Express provides a great chicken dinner with all the fixings, volunteers provide a wide variety of delicious desserts; and Pedernales Brewing Company provides the beer. During the festival there are several rounds of "Chicken Shit Bingo" and the proceeds helped pay for a new roof on the schoolhouse. People buy a chip with a number on it and then hope that the chicken poops on their number - if it does, they win a share of the total pot and the rest of the money goes for a good cause..
On Friday the music started at 4 on the outdoor stage and moved to the dance hall at 5. TMR for the first time was the opener for his own festival - which set the stage for a lively weekend. TMR was followed by:
Saturday the music started at 12:30 on the outdoor stage and again moved to the indoor stage at 5. The lineup included:
The music never stops in Luckenbach and Sunday the music started at 1:30 and included:
The Food Vendors At Luckenbach
All that music and beer makes me very hungry and thank God for the food vendors at Luckenbach. The Feed Store is a Luckenbach staple and it servers burgers, chicken fingers, pulled pork sandwiches, funnel cakes, hot dogs, fries and more. This year there were two food trucks - one serving a variety of stuff from Philly Cheese steaks to nachos and fried alligator and the other serving pizza. The pizza from Crusty's Pizza was outstanding. It's cooked in a wood fired 700 degree oven and there are a variety of fixed choices or you can choose from several ingredients for a custom pizza. We had the green chili chicken with a wide variety of veggies (olives, mushrooms, red pepper, and more) plus lots of jalapenos - hot and very tasty!! And it soaked up a couple beers.
Luckenbach & The Surrounding Area
If you're coming to TMR's festival next year, plan to spend an extra day or two exploring the Fredericksburg area which offers lots of fun things to see and do. There are tons of shops, lots of good restaurants, a great golf course, a good museum, over 35 wineries, and lots more. On this trip we sampled some wine at Fat Ass Winery, climbed Enchanted Rock, and drank some great craft beer plus took a short tour at Pedernales Brewing Company. Check out this map of Fredericksburg to find some things to do.
Our sincere thanks go out to Thomas Michael Riley, Courtney, his wife, Linda who handles just about everything, and all of the volunteers who make this one of the most fun and entertaining festivals in Texas. See you next year.