Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2010 Old Settlers Music Festival

Old Settlers Music Festival


Old Settler’s Music Festival
23 Years of Good ‘ol Bluegrass Music

By Sean Claes
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Bluegrass Music from attending the Old Settler’s Music Festival, it’s the older you get, the better the show is.

And, I’m not talking about the attendees, I’m talking about the performers. Some of the highlights from my time on the grass next to the stage include Ralph Stanley (83), Slim Richey (72), and Del McCoury (71).

I should also say that that thanks to Old Settler’s I’ve had the privledge to watch young performers cut their musical teeth as well. I’ll always remember seeing Sarah Jarosz a little girl barely in double digits who blew everyone away with her fiddle skills and singing in 2002. That year her band “Spurs of the Moment” won the Youth Talent Competition. I’ve seen her many times over the years… most recently I saw the 19 year-old Grammy nominated artist at the Austin Music Awards last month where she won for best female vocalist.

Who knows what the youth competition will bring this year, but the 2010 that line-up does include 16 year-old Ruby James who has gotten great compliments paid to her by by CBS’ Bob Schieffer and legend Willie Nelson.

This year’s line-up includes some old standards and some great new projects. The Festival is four-days long (with Thursday and Sunday being held at the campgrounds). Headliners include Alejandro Escovedo, Mindy Smith and Joe Ely on Friday and Patty Griffin with Buddy Miller, Band of Heathens, and 7 Walkers on Saturday.

There’s a plethora of great music to be heard, which makes the $170 price tag for the entire 4-day (with camping) worthwhile. If you’re not camping, a 3-day pass is $115, or individual day passes run $50 for Friday or Saturday and $25 for Sunday. So feel free to pick a day or come out to all three. It’s awesome and the food by The Salt Lick is nothing to sneeze at either.

Here are a few bands not to miss at this year’s Old Settlers.

7 Walkers

This is a HUGE win for Old Settler’s. This band features Bill Kreutzmann, the original drummer and co-founder of The Grateful Dead, and one of my local favorite mainstays, Papa Mali. 7 Walkers recently cut a new album in Austin and the Saturday April 17 (9:15p) date is the only posted concert in Texas for the group.

The Lee Boys

At every Old Settler’s there’s always a little church-driven rock and soul that finds its way into the line-up. This year that is provided in a big way with Miami’s The Lee Boys. They are known as the finest “sacred steel” band around. For those who don’t know what sacred steel is, I’ll let Wikipedia explain “Sacred steel is a musical style and African-American gospel tradition that developed in House of God churches in the 1930s” where pedal steel guitar was introduced as an alternative to the traditional organ. You are sure to leave “churched” if you make it to their set at 4:15p on Saturday.

Travelin' McCourys

I don’t remember seeing a line-up in the last 10 years at Old Settler’s that didn’t include a member of the McCoury family. These are the sons of Del and their form of “one microphone, many instruments” bluegrass brings the roots back to the genre. They play twice on 4/17 (4:45 and 10:45)

Ruthie Foster

There are few performers that slay me each time I see them live. Ruthie Foster is one. Her style is a hybrid of blues, gospel, roots and folk. When she performs, she captivates the audience. Her 2007 release The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster is one of my top 10 albums of the decade. Come see why on Friday at 6:45.

The Trishas

This is a fantastic band that kind of just happened. The four members include Jamie Wilson (The Gougers), Liz Foster (Liz & Lincoln), Kelley Mickwee (Jed & Kelley), and Savannah Welch (daughter of Kevin Welch). They actually just assembled to play a tribute show to Kevin Welch at the 2009 Steamboat, but apparently it clicked and here we are. They are as beautiful as the music they play and you will kick yourself if you’re not in front of the Bluebonnet Stage at 5:45 on Friday night (4/16) to see them.

Fred Eaglesmith

Here’s another one of those names that I learned about at Old Settler’s. Fred Eaglesmith has a pretty big following of folks who call themselves “Fredheads.” His songs are great and his stage banter is superb. For three decades this Canadian singer-songwriter has been recording and playing live. He performs at 1:15 Saturday and 2:25 on Sunday.

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