Review of Thomas Michael Riley's 2019 Music Festival

Thomas Michael Rileys Music FestivalLuckenbachJune 6th was the kickoff for Thomas Michael Riley's 12th annual Texas Music Festival and it was fantastic - great venue, outstanding lineup, perfect weather, camping, and lively fun fans! Hard to beat all of that, which is why we keep coming back for more - I've lost track, but I think this was the 9th year of our attending the festival and we plan to keep coming back for more!

Sponsor Party at Thomas Michael Riley

Chicken at Thomas Michael Rileys Music FestivalThis year's festival started with Thomas Michael Riley's sponsor party on Thursday night which is his and Courtney's way of thanking all of the sponsors who help make this festival happen. For the last few years the sponsor's party has been held at the Cave Creek Schoolhouse about 12 miles from Luckenbach. Cave Creek is a one-room school that opened for classes in 1891 - is this a flashback to Thomas Michael Riley's teaching days? After dining on some superb Chicken Express and all the fixins plus a table full of delicious home made desserts with everything from fudge to cookies to a variety of cakes, the music kicked off in the next door outdoor pavilion. Plus there was free beer, wine, and shots.

After all that food and several of the free beers, I retired to my chair with a full tummy and sat back ready for some good music. This year Matt Hillyer of 1100 Springs joined Thomas Michael Riley in a song swap that was backed up by the very talented Kenny Grimes on guitar. A fun and entertaining song swap with lots of dancing, laughter, and getting to know some good folks.

Matt of 1100 SpringsKenny GrimesThomas Michael Riley

Luckenbach - The Home of Thomas Michael Riley's Music Festival

New Stage at LuckenbachFor the last several years Thomas Michael Riley's music festival has been held in Luckenbach with the music starting each morning on the smaller cozy outdoor stage and then moving into the historic Luckenbach Dance Hall. This year, Luckenbach built a new stage 75 yards from the original stage which gave everyone much more room to spread out and enjoy the music and camaraderie. Lots of picnic tables were placed in front of dance floor and stage and under the oak trees. In back of the picnic tables fans were allowed to set up lawn chairs. Tall oak trees provided ample shade. Thomas Michael Riley held his entire festival on this new stage - no need to migrate into the hot dance hall for the evening music. It was kind of sad to see the unique original stage and historic dance hall going unused but the setting was great, cooler, and lots more room.

The only other change to Luckenbach, population 2, was the beer station moved to the front edge of the new stage. The Small Creek Hat Shop, Bar & Saloon, Feed Store, and the Luckenbach Post Office and store had not changed. The Feed Store has a variety of good food ranging from loaded nachos to burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, sausage wraps and more. If that's not enough, there is wood fired pizza available from a vendor. As good as the food is, the best of all is the ambiance and vibe that you feel at Luckenbach. And it hasn't changed a bit - it's warm, welcoming, real, friendly, and outgoing.

Luckenbach New Beer Saloon at LuckenbachOld Stage at Luckenbach

Thomas Michael Riley's 2019 Texas Music Festival

This year's lineup was good mix of some of the regulars (Davin James, Max Stalling, Tommy Alverson, and Forlini 'n Cross for example) plus some up and coming new bees like Colby Swift, Nate Kipp, and Saints Eleven. And for the first time, the fantastic 1100 Springs were present. If you like Thomas Michael Riley, this was your opportunity to hear a lot of the 500 songs he's written and several from his 7 CDS plus some new ones (the Boys From Luckenbach is fantastic!) - he played at the sponsor party, opened the music on Friday, closed a fun day of music on Saturday, played a set on Sunday afternoon, and of course hung out by the campfire picking and singing until the wee hours of the morning. And all of his sets were lively, fun, and entertaining without a lot of repeats and unlike other artists each set was very different. "There's a genuine and, for lack of a better word, virtuous sense to everything he does on a stage. It's heartfelt, it's real, it's timeless." And when that's the case, nobody walks away unsatisfied - you can't help but love that guy!

Friday's Lineup at Thomas Michael Riley Music Festival

Thomas Michael Riley

Thomas Michael Riley

Colby Swift

Colby Swift

Doug Rose

Doug Rose

Travis Smith

Travis Smith

Forlini 'n Cross

Forlini 'n Cross

Nate Kipp

Nate Kipp

Saints Eleven

Saints Eleven

Thomas Michael Riley

Thomas Michael Riley

1100 Springs

Eleven Hundred Springs

 

Saturday's Lineup at Thomas Michael Riley Music Festival

Dave Thomas & Brett Watts

Dave Thomas & Brett Watts

Nathan Young

Nathan Young

blacktop Gypsy

Black Top Gypsy

Tommy Alverson

Terry Rasor

Terry Rasor

Tommy Alverson

Davin James

Davin James

Jamie Richards

Jamie Richards

Max Stalling

Max Stalling

Thomas Michael Riley

Thomas Michael Riley

 

Sunday's Lineup at Thomas Michael Riley Music Festival

Billie Joe

Billie Joe

Hunter Douglas

Hunter Douglas

Thomas Michael Riley

Thomas Michael Riley

The Music Fans At Thomas Michael Riley's Music Festival

Thomas Michael RileyThomas Michael RileyThomas Michael Riley is 6'5" tall and his personality is as big as Texas - he's always laughing, hugging, high fiving, toasting with a drink, or telling a funny story. What a great personality. And the fans at his Texas Music Festival are a direct reflection of his personality - they are fun, gregarious, happy, friendly, and outgoing. As Thomas Michael Riley states "over the years we'll culled out all of the assholes and now only the good folks are here!" He reminds everyone that life's never so good as when we all take the time to look out for each other." In a room full of salt of the earth folks whose boots and hats are more work tools than haute couture those words ring awfully true." There's no fighting, no arguments rising above the level of friendly banter and Thomas Michael Riley's festival has "the sort of easy happiness and genuine human kindness on display that one would expect at a small country church." The fans of Thomas Michael Riley range from 2 to 82 and everywhere in between.

Every year we love to reacquaint with good folks that we've met at previous Thomas Michael Riley festivals or other music events and it's impossible not to meet some new people. The fans are there to listen to the music, enjoy Luckenbach, and down several beers with friends - but it never seems to get rowdy or ugly. Maybe all the dancing helps make for a friendly atmosphere! Click on this link to see more pictures of the fans enjoying the music and having fun.

fans at Thomas Michael Rileys Music FestivalFans at Thomas Michael Rileys Music FestivalFans of TMR

Dancing to 10 Toes Up at Thomas Michael Rileys Music FestivalFans at Thomas Michael Rileys Music FestivalDancing at Thomas Michael Rileys Music Festival

Camping At Thomas Michael Riley's Music Festival

If you've got a camper (if not, you should consider renting one), camping on what Thomas Michael Riley has labeled "the redneck Riviera" is the only way to go - it's 200 yards to the entrance to Luckenbach and after the music ends each night you can get your lawn chair and cooler of beer, and spend several hours listing, singing, and picking around the campfire. Then walk a few yards back to your camper to grab some shuteye so you can do it again the next day. There is a small fee to dry camp for the weekend and for a few more dollars you can hook into a rental generator. The campground is always alive with the smell of bacon or other good stuff, plus music, laughter, and games. The campers are friendly and it's impossible not to get to know your next door neighbor.

Camping at Thomas Michael Rileys Music Festivalcamping at Thomas Michael Rileys Music Festivalcamping at Thomas Michael Rileys Music Festival

If you want water, electric, and sewer hook-ups there are a couple very close by RV Parks (Jellystone or Fredericksburg KOA) and several more in Fredericksburg (10 miles down the road). There are also cabins and cottages, B&Bs, and several hotels available within 15 minutes of Luckenbach.

Our thanks go out to Thomas Michael Riley and Courtney for all their hard work in making this a great festival and also to the Luckenbach staff and several volunteers plus the excellent sound system from Hill Country Ears.

TMR & CourtneyMC Miles DavisHill Country Ears sound man

If you like Texas county singer songwriters, then you need to plan to attend this festival next June. And if you can afford it, sign up as a sponsor which means you can attend the sponsor party, enjoy a back stage sponsor area with free beer and wine, get a Thomas Michael Riley tee shirt, free camping, and more!

See ya next year!

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