Friday, May 4, 2018

INsite Hindsite - Old Settler's Music Festival

It may have been the 31st year of the Old Settler's Music Festival, but it felt like a first.... in the very best was possible. It was the first time OSMF was held on land that the festival itself owns... and while there are some adjustments that should be considered for next year (better placement of booths/marketplace for one) the music was incredibly spot-on and the vibe was just as you'd expect from this friendly bluegrass fest. 

INsite's Sean Claes and his daughters Marlee (14) and Harper (11) were on hand to take photos during the event. Here are some of the best shots we got over the weekend.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Steve Poltz

Peterson Brothers

Billy Strings

Colter Wall

Sarah Grace & the Soul - 2018 Youth Competition Winners


Sean McConnell

The War and Treaty
The California Honeydrops

JD McPherson

JD McPherson

Will Hoge
Will Hoge

I’m With Her

I’m With Her

Wade Bowen

Railroad Earth

Steve Poltz (Camp Shhhtimes)

Mother Falcon (Camp Shhhtimes)

Sunday, April 22, 2018
The Cleverlys

The Cleverlys


Steve Poltz

Steve Poltz

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Old Settler's Music Festival 2018

31 Years in and A New Beginning

This may be the 31st year of Old Settler’s Music Festival, but this is a new beginning. Over the last year, the festival has moved from the Salt Lick BBQ Pavilion and Camp Ben McCulloch in Driftwood, Texas to 45 acres of land they bought in Tilmon, Texas (Southeast of Lockhart).This is the 4th location for the non-profit Festival in its lifetime (It began in Round Rock and had a stint in Dripping Springs as well). This one is permanent.

Four Days. Four Stages. Almost three dozen bands. Camping. Arts & Crafts. Great people. April 19-22, 2018.

Full disclosure… those who are expecting well manicured campsites and five-star accommodations may be in for a shock. From what we’ve heard from some of the volunteers who are working many, many hours to get this site ready for the festivities, this is going to have the vibe of a first year festival environment. More primitive than posh...and this is something that we’re VERY excited about. We at INsite think the Old Settler’s family will have an amazing experience and will step up to the move and accept it with love.

That said, the music is something that Old Settler’s has always hit out of the park, and this year is no different. INsite looked over the talent and have compiled a list of bands you don't want to miss this year.

I'm With Her (California, Texas and Massachusetts)

I'm With Her is a folk band consisting of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donavan. They first met at a show in 2014 at the Sheridan Opera House then took off from there and were touring together within the next year. Sara Watkins got her start in 1989 as fiddler and founding member of the group Nickel Creek. Sarah Jarosz was 10 when she won old settlers music festival’s first Youth Talent Competition in 2002. Since then Jarosz career has taken off being nominated for five grammys and winning two. Aoife O’Danavan is best known as the lead singer for the band Crooked Still and as a member of the all female trio Sometymes Why.

I'm With Her has been very successful The New York Times has said “...when the three women sang together, their voices became one instrument, sharing every breath” and The Guardian has said "Together their sound is both ethereal and purposeful, a combination of searing musicianship and tender vocals." The song Game to Lose is a perfect showcase of their individual vocals melding together to make a beautiful sound. Also their cover of Adele's song Send My Love is a great example of how I'm With Her can put their original spin on any song. - Marlee Claes 
I'm With Her plays on Saturday at 8:40p on the Original Black's BBQ stage

Bob Schneider (Austin)

Anyone who’s been in Austin for a minute will recognize Bob Schneider, and anyone who’s attended Old Settler’s in the last few years probably danced to his music. Coming back for the 5th time in the last 7 years, Schneider is always a fun show to catch. The great thing about watching him perform is, you never know which dude will show up - since he has such a diverse deep vault of original tunes to choose from. One thing is certain though - it’ll be a great show and you have a 50% chance of yelling “Tatantula” before his set is through.
- Sean Claes 

Bob Schneider plays on Saturday at 10:45p on the Bluebonnet Stage

The California Honeydrops (Oakland, CA)

The California Honeydrops began their career in 2007 with guitarist, lead singer and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament playing in Oakland subway stations. Their great vocal harmonies long with their New Orleans-style horn-driven blues has served them well through 6 recordings and numerous live appearances. They debuted at Old Settler's Music Festival last year and were one of the bands that made folks first stop in their tracks to see where that amazing sound was coming from.. then move their feet to the rhythm. You would be served well to catch them. - Claes 
The California Honeydrops play on Saturday at 5:30p on the Original Black's BBQ stage 

Ray Wylie Hubbard (Wimberley)

Although his name isn’t quite a household name, Ray Wylie Hubbard is a legend to a large cross-section of musicians and fans. It is for good reason that the last 20 years or so, Hubbard has been dubbed “The Wylie Lama.” He writes some fantastically dark and twisted, sometimes spiritual and often-times humorous songs. He will always be best known for penning the song Jerry Jeff Walker made famous in 1973, “(Up Against the Wall) Redneck Mother,” but his collection of recordings post-2000 (GROWL, Snake Farm, A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C, Tell The Devil That I'm Getting There As Fast As I Can) is what has solidified a career as a songwriter and performer. The bonus of seeing him live is, he is just about the most entertaining storyteller in the land. It’s no surprise that he is closing out the 2018 festival. - Sean Claes
Ray Wylie Hubbard plays on Sunday at 4:20p on the Campground Stage Jamestown Revival (Magnolia) 

Jamestown Revival’s Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay grew up together in Magnolia, Texas. They worked together on their first song at the age of 15. They launched individual careers, but then came back together to focus on their harmonies. Named Jamestown Revival based on the concept of leaving the old and starting anew. The band's music inspirations come from storytellers. Some musical inspirations are Louis L'Amour, Willie Nelson and John Prine. - Marlee Claes 

Jamestown Revival performs on Friday at 7:00pm-8:15pm on the Original Black’s BBQ Stage. 

Frankie Leonie (Austin/Richardson) 

One of the best things about Old Settler’s is, it gives today’s youth a chance to get up on stage and maybe even be discovered. In 2002, a band called The Spurs Of The Moment won the Youth Competition featuring a 10 year-old by the name of Sarah Jarosz (see the write-up for “I’m With Her” below). Sixteen year-old Frankie Leonie was the runner-up in last year’s Youth Competition. It would do you well to plan on making it to her set at 4p on Friday. - Sean Claes
Frankie Leonie opens the Original Black's BBQ stage 4:00p on Friday

Wade Bowen (New Braunfels)

Wade Bowen hit in the early 2000s when his brand of Red Dirt Country was making an emergence in the Central Texas music scene. He climbed to national prominence in 2012 when he had a hit single with “Saturday Night” and his 2015 Hold My Beer Vol. 1, an album of duets with Randy Rogers. He’s about 18 years into his career and it seems he’s hit his stride with Solid Ground, which released in February. One can look forward to hearing some of the classic Country-tinged Bowen tracks alongside tracks like the mariachi-influenced “Day of the Dead” and perhaps even a rocking Black Crowes cover (he performed “Jealous Again” when he played The Mohawk in Austin this past February). - Sean Claes
Wade Bowen plays Saturday at 9:10p on the Bluebonnet Stage

Possessed By Paul James / 3% Milk (MilkDrive, The Deer and The Greencards) - At the campgrounds only

Friday night’s line-up at “Camp Shhhhtimes” - the late-night jam that campers are treated to. The 2a performance by the one-man band Possessed by Paul James (aka Konrad Wert) AND a compilation of local(ish) Austin bands The Deer, MilkDrive and The Greencards. It's going to be amazing for those who are awake and woke enough to witness. - Sean Claes
This Camp Shhhhhtimes event begins at 2a on Saturday Night (Sunday morning?)

So… last thing.. How do you get to Tilman? Well, you go to Dale. The physical address is “1616 FM 3158, Dale, Texas 78616” as Tilman is quite literally a one building town 10 miles southeast of Lockhart. Follow this link to find out how to get there - link

Sunday, February 4, 2018

REVIEW: Matt The Electrician and Kris Delmhorst

February 2, 2018 - Cactus Cafe (Austin, Texas)

By Sean Claes
Cactus Cafe is a great listening room on the campus of University of Texas and it was the perfect location for an evening and song-swap with Austin's Matt the Electrician and Massachusetts' Kris Delmhorst
This is probably my favorite kind of show, for I feel in an environment like Cactus Cafe singer-songwriters are able to peel some of the layers away from their songs and share stories and inspirations about the creative process. Plus, with this night, it seemed like we were getting a glimpse into the reunion of two friends catching up, laughing and playing together. Almost like they were hanging out in their living room and we got to watch.
Photo by Sean Claes
Matthew Sever is Matt The Electrician. (who, as the name suggests was an electrician in his former life - in the 1990s) took the stage first, shared a few stories, and played a few songs from his discography, which runs a dozen records deep. 
Photo by Sean Claes
Just before launching into a fantastically speedy rendition of "Change The Subject" (from  2007's One Thing Right) he mentioned that February 3 was going to be the 14th anniversary of his quitting drinking alcohol and the song was written after attending a potluck/gathering with his wife, the week he decided to quit drinking, where he knew nobody. That gave a whole new perspective to the opening lyrics: " If I never gave up drinking / I would surely have a beer right now / Talking politics and religion / I don't wanna be here right now."

He also played "The Bear" and "California" off his 2017 release The Doubles which is a collection of the 7" singles he's released along with renditions of those tracks featuring the trio with which he currently performs.

A treat of being in a listening room setting is artists sometimes try out new material. Sever debuted a song that he'd never played live, which I believe is called "Angels Chasing After Me." He realized, and pointed out during the track, that the riff he was using was the same as "What's So Funny" off his 2009 release Animal Boy and promised to change it. He explained that this show was his first gig of 2018 after taking about six weeks off, the longest time away from stage since he'd begun his career.
Honestly, if he'd not mentioned it, nobody would have known he'd not played live in a minute... but it made for a few funny references. Once he played his set, it was Kris Delmhorst's time to take the stage.
Whereas Sever has a laid back, conversational and sometimes quirky approach to his storytelling style, Delmhorst has what I'd describe as a classic singer-songwriter style. Her songs are beautifully composed stories of life and love. 
Photo by Sean Claes
I was first introduced to Delmhorst's music in 2003 with the release of her Songs For A Hurricane. She was a regular performer at Cambridge, Massachusetts' Club Passim where my sister and brother-in-law frequented.  I caught her in 2007 (I think) during SXSW at a restaurant-turned music venue on 6th street. I recall that, while being impressed with her music, the venue didn't suit her. Well, fast forward a decade and The Cactus Cafe made for the perfect backdrop to showcase her beautiful voice and poetic lyrics. 

She settled onto the stage after a fun little volley with Sever where he couldn't think of the city in Massachusetts where she hailed from, so it was dubbed "Northernville." 
With 12 albums under her belt, she also had a dearth of great material to pull from. Delmhorst is touring on the release of her 2017 album The Wild. She treated the crowd to songs off the album like "Temporary Existance" and "Rules To Games."

After her set, they took a short break. When that concluded, both Sever and Delmhorst took the stage together and riffed off each other while playing back-up to each other's songs. Sever switched from guitar to trumpet and Delmhorst switched from guitar to violin. It was definitely a wonderful sight to behold.
Photo By Sean Claes

Probably my favorite song of the night was a track that Delmorst never released and I can find zero reference to it online. Her and Sever are part of a songwriters game that consists of a song title being sent to them on a Monday and they have a week to turn it into a finished song. During the play of this game, the title "Russian Girl" was sent out. She turned it into a great tongue-in-cheek song about a friend who has been in the dating pool for a long time... recalling that he should consider a fantastically flawed girl he'd once dated (might be insane, drank a lot, but she recalled he thought she was "OK").

Photo by Sean Claes

If you ever get the chance to see Matt The Electrician or Kris Delmhost live, it's totally worth it and you will leave musically fed. Those who were lucky enough to see them together... well.. we got one of those once-in-a-lifetime treats that will go in the books as a beautiful musical memory.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

REVIEW: 10 Years, From Ashes To New, To Whom It May, Broken Valor

January 23, 2018 - Come and Take It Live (Austin, Texas)

By Sean Claes
For the first time in 2018, I walked through the doors of Austin's Come and Take It Live... and for the first time in a much longer time I was there to see a road show. Four bands, none of them from Austin. I was invited to the show by the publicist for From Ashes To New (Lancaster, PA) who was opening for 10 Years (Knoxville, TN) whom, ironically, formed 19 years ago. Rounding the band out was To Whom It May (Galveston, TX) and Broken Valor (Houston, TX)

The atmosphere was perfect for this line-up of rock/melodic metal bands. Surveying the crowd, it was pretty nice to see a diverse and mixed age bunch of folks. There was your old-school metal heads standing alongside a new "Xs on their hands" breed of live music fans.

Broken Valor

First up was Broken Valor. They came out the gate hard with a sound that was straight-forward barroom metal. Vocalist Kelly Allbright commanded the stage like a seasoned pro.
To Whom It May
Next up was To Whom It May ('I' III I III). Got to love a band that comes in with the Willie Wonka “Wondrous Boat Ride” audio playing in the background. Lead vocalist Jonathon Jourdon surprised me when he had a voice that didn’t match his metaltastic beard. Kind of a Layne Staley meets Robert Plant tinge to the vocals... in the best way possible. The music was a melodic metal groove that built up throughout their set and and peaked with the final song, which I believe was called "Signal Fire."
From Ashes To New
The already crowded club (really packed for a Tuesday night) seemed to double in size when From Ashes To New hit the stage. These guys are one of the most high energy bands I’ve witnessed live in a while. The songs were great and they owned the crowd from the first strum to the last bass drum kick. The combination of lead vocalist Danny Case's emo-infused rock combined with the flows of rapper Matt Brandyberry made for some solid tunes. 
The mentioned that this was the first time playing Austin since they came though during SXSW in 2015 and I think Austin approved. They can come back anytime. Perhaps as a headliner next time? 
10 Years
Come And Take It Live was standing-room only when headliners 10 Years hit the stage. This tour was in support of their 2018 release (how to live) AS GHOSTS which is the band's 8th release since they formed in 1999. The ambient hard rock the band performed was great and the crowd was in tune with each lick.
Over-all this was a great line-up of music and for those who braved the Tuesday night air to catch a show... we were all rewarded. Come and Take It Live is such a great venue and I'm so glad there's a mid-sized place in Austin to host great local acts as well as road shows like this one. Credit goes to owner Anthony Stevenson for keeping the metal alive in the ATX. It's also nice to make a right off IH-35 to Riverside to catch a rock show again.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

DAY TRIP - Flea Market - Kyle, Texas

A Mini-Mall of Mixed Treasures
An Impressively Inexpensive Adventure    

By Sean Claes

Early January saw some amazingly cold weather and some dreary days. The type of day that you don't want to wander around outside, but you've got to get out of the house, right? I found the perfect day-trip for those in the Austin area. The Flea Market in Kyle, Texas.

I know, a flea market invokes thoughts of dark smoky places where the broken toys of your childhood gather dust next to an old VHS of Over The Top... and about 10 years ago when I visited the Flea Market in Kyle it was kind of true to that thought. But, in recent time, they've stepped up their game and there are some great booths with some amazing discoveries. It's also smoke-free inside.

Kyle Flea Market (Web |Facebook) is located at 1119 N Old Hwy 81 in Kyle, Texas. It's just off IH-35 on the southbound access road. They are open from 9a - 5p on Saturdays and Sundays year round.

Driving up that dirt road towards the big tin-roofed building that sports a huge "KYLE FLEA MARKET" on the top - I felt like I was going to an old-school swap meet. There were folks with tables on the grounds in front with piles of clothing and "sellable junk" akin to a big multi-family garage sale. I found out later that anyone can "buy" a space outside for a few bucks. I took my parking space (it's free) and decided to bypass those folks and walk into the building.

Once inside, there are what seems like hundreds of "booths" that feel more like individual stores within the building. The layout is a large rectangle with two walkways... stores on either side. There's toy stores, an art space, stores with paintings, some refinished furniture spaces as well as some with "upcycled" furniture. There are some antique, knife/weapon, and feng shui spaces. Some hand-made knit items and some college-themed hats/shirts/collectibles. Yes, there are some "garage sale" flea market booths, but they are outnumbered by manicured "antique" stores. 

In other words, they've done a great job turning this place into a pretty nice and safe place that the entire family can visit and get some great deals. It's well lit and the booth owners (for the most part) are really nice and welcoming and ready to chat you up or sell you a new-to-you item.

 One of the stores I walked into took me back in time to college... in San Marcos, Texas. There was a Hastings there and this space had some of the signage from that location. Almost bought a huge newsstand sign for $10... but decided to leave it there for someone else to discover. I chatted with the owner and he uses this space as a sorting space for a consignment store he owns in San Marcos called Junk In Da Trunk. Because of this, it was one of the stores where you dig for treasures instead of find the wares displayed. Oh, There was also a cheeky laundry sign that made me chuckle. 

 On the other side of the spectrum, there was a fantastic upcycled furniture store (Booth 70A) where I found some fantastic bar stools that were turned into functional art pieces. The owner, who holds this space as an overflow for a North Austin upcycle furniture gallery (where the prices are likely tripled) had them retailing for $30 for the pair. They now reside on my back porch... but what drew me into the space was a "mounted deer head" piece that was both beautiful and funky. 

In addition to the stores, there is a modern art space in the back corner of the space encased in glass. It's the Dirty Dark Place, an "errant, artist-run project space." The current installation, entitled "Bornagain"  evokes a post-apocalyptic living space complete with makeshift seating, fly-paper chandelier and camouflage toilet paper. It's definitely a modern art piece that is open for interpretation and feels both awkward and right at home at the Kyle Flea Market. 

Once I got my modern art appreciation in, I walked into a store that reminded me of one I'd find in Chinatown Center in Austin. Gold and Green Jade has a large display of feng shui items and a great assortment of maneki-neko (often referred to as the "Chinese Lucky Cat"). The owner, Kim Lee, was really welcoming and gave me a nice tour of her space 

 Of course, not trip to a space like this is complete without finding some funny, strange and just plain weird items. That is part of the fun of going to the flea market, isn't it?
I found a few funny t-shirts, a box of wrestlers, a painting of a cactus playing the guitar and some other great items. 

So, if you've got a few hours to kill and a few bucks in your pocket to spend, I'd highly recommend checking out Kyle Flea Market. You won't be disappointed.


This is a fun game I like to play with my kids (10 and 13). Everyone has $5. Get the coolest/neatest/most interesting thing you can for that price. The great thing is... most of the booth owners will work with you on price (sidenote: This game is also great for helping the kids get comfortable talking with business owners and other adults)

The day we went, we played this game and here are the results of our $5 finds:
The author & his kiddos with the $5 finds game results.