Old Settlers Music Festival – April, 2010 — Driftwood, TX (by Jeanne Wilkinson)
People know a good thing, and they keep on going towards it when they have it. This was the 23rd year for The Old Settlers Music Festival, just outside of Austin. Many familiar folks were back.
It was about the 6th year in the current location, incorporating the Salt Lick BBQ grounds along with the Camp Ben McCullough campgrounds along Onion Creek. And yes, you can place a wager it’s going to rain that weekend – I believe we received about 3 inches this time – but that just adds to the fun. For example, it’s not often you get to see the Band of Heathens play unplugged and true acoustic; it felt like history in the making.
Actually there was a lot of history in the making here. Ruby Jane, at 16, packed the Discovery Stage pavilion and will surely be on a bigger stage next time. The young Peterson Brothers, aged 11 and 13, were on hand for the Youth Talent Competition. Buddy Miller with Patty Griffin, and Patty Griffin with Buddy Griffin was like having two of your favorite friends visiting at one time. Ruthie Foster and Alejandro Escovedo blew it out in their own home town. And nothing topped Joe Ely and David Grissom’s night-ending set on Friday. I’m still singing “Ain’t She Fine” and “Rocking Loretta”!
There was fine, fine bluegrass music from well-know folks like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, The Traveling McCourys, and Peter Rowan, and others equally enjoyable like The Wronglers, Blue Highway, The Giving Tree Band, and Bearfoot.
The Infamous String Dusters were excellent, playing in the campground on Thursday, and the big stage on Friday. They know how to enjoy their time on stage. And locals Green Mountain Grass and Flounders Without Eyes just keep getting better. Papa Mali and the 7 Walkers took me back in time; I’m sorry I only could catch their last couple songs. I also enjoyed the short while I was able to hear San Fran band New Monsoon once again. And it wouldn’t be the same without a couple of Fred Eaglesmith shows – he knows how to abuse us early and often. We tried to cover as much as we could; I’m sure I couldn’t do it.
At the end, our friends Pat and Sally asked if it was “the best ever”. Yes, it might just have been one of the best ever festivals, and not just one of the best ever Old Settlers festivals. We’ll be back too.