Saturday, Day Three of the Old Settler’s Music Fest did not start off well. No sooner did we arrive at the venue and before the first scheduled band, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, began their set, campers were sent back to the campgrounds and non-campers were sent back to their cars due to a severe weatheralert. After about 45 minutes or so, and a pretty good 10-minute downpour, the arena was re-opened and the music, with some slight schedule changes, back on.
The youth-competition, which featured ten amazing young artists was cut from 3 songs apiece to only 1 song, but those kids nailed that one song. The winner of the competition was Elijah Delgado a 16 year old singer-songwriter from Austin, TX. Other competitors included Christina Bolen, 17 from Lockhart, TX, Riley Edwards & Julia Blackmon, 17 and 16 respectively from Austin, 18 year old Ethan Hanson from new Braunfels, TX, Kendale Walker, 12 from Cypress, TX, Giri , (14) & Uma (11) Peters all the way from Nashville, TN, Mathias Lattin, 16 out of Houston, Jade Vondrew, 17 years old from Buda, TX, and Madi Meeks, 17 from Austin.
Due to the weather delay Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons were rescheduled from the main stage to the Bluebonnet stage later in the afternoon. Which meant first up on the main stage was last year’s youth competitor and Voice semi-finalist, 16-year old Sarah Grace and her band The Soul. It’s easy to see why Sarah won last year’s competition. She is a powerhouse singer and a multi-instrumentalist. Joining Sarah on stage were her younger sister Regan Kimberly on drums and apparent BFF Daniel Holder on bass.
Los Legends featuring Flaco Jimenez, Ruben Ramos and Rick Trevino played a rousing set of Tex-Mex music. This group of multi-Grammy winners put on a heck of a show and had the entire crowd up and moving.
The Nashville based Steeldrivers are a different style of bluegrass. More of a rock and roll meets soul, bluegrass. The band has gone through multiple lineup changes but still maintains that same Steeldrivers sound. The current lineup consist of fiddler Tammy Rogers, bassist Mike Fleming, guitarist Kelvin Damrell, mandolinist Brent Truitt, and banjoist Richard Bailey. The band received a Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award for its album, The Muscle Shoals Recordings.
One of the highlights of the weekend was blues guitarist Samantha Fish. Samantha had a big year in 2018 winning seven awards, including Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year at the Blues Music Awards. Samantha has been wowing audiences with her guitar skills since she was a teenager. Samantha has toured extensively around the world with the likes of Jackie Greene and Tab Benoit. Later this year she embarks on a US tour with Marc Borussard.
Hayes Carll was up next. The native Texan opened his set with the song “None ‘Ya”, as in Nona ‘ya damn business. As song he wrote based on his relationship with fiancée, Allison Moorer. Like most of Carll’s songs it is not a typical love song. He picked up the pace a bit with “KMAG YOYO” a modern day protest song, chronicling the misadventures of a young soldier in Afghanistan. Other Carll songs include “Jesus and Elvis” , “Drunken and Poets Dream” and “I Will Stay”.
While most of the action was on the main stage on Saturday there were some happening over on the Bluebonnet Stage as well. After the youth competition concluded, the winner Elijah Delgado got toperform a 30 minute set. Then the rescheduled Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons set finally happened. It probably worked out better for them anyway. There was a much bigger crowd in the afternoon than first thing in the morning.
The rest of the day saw Austin’s own Penny and Sparrow, followed by Wood and Wire and then The Lone Bellow. Paul Cauthen and Wild Child closed out the evening at the Bluebonnet stage.
Meanwhile the weather took another nasty turn and temps dropped down into the high 40’s with a brisk wind. The crowd was bundled up in blankets, parkas, sleeping bags and anything they could find to keep themselves warm. Even in the cold weather, the ice cream booth still had the longest line in the place.
Brandi Carlile managed to warm the crowd up though. I have seen Brandi a few times and this was the best performance I have ever seen her do. Maybe she is still pumped up from her three Grammys. She told the crowd don’t let anyone tell you those awards don’t matter, it mattered to her and the twins. The twins being the rest of her band, Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Despite the cold and the wind Brandi delivered. Her voice is powerful and she sings with such emotion. She weaves stories in between her songs some of them funny some of them serious, but all of them entertaining. She talked about how proud she was to be the first openly gay person to perform at the Academy of Country Music Award. She talked about the difficulties of being a mother and she joked that the wind was scaring her a bit up on stage but as long as the aforementioned ice cream stand with its 20ft high ice cream cone was still there she felt safe. Her setlist included “The Story”, “Mother” and the crowd was almost reverently quiet when the trio sang the acoustic melody, “The Eye”. Brandi was joined on stage by “The Lone Bellow” for a beautiful version of “Angel in Montgomery”. She finished off her set with a cover of a Led Zeppelin song, “Going to California.”
Galactic finished off the evening but unfortunately by then the long day and the cold weather had gotten to this Southern California guy and I had to leave.
All in all the 32nd Annual Old Settler’s Music Festival was a lot of fun. It is just the right size. The crowd is friendly and there to enjoy the music. The sound was incredible and it was a weekend full of incredible musicians. Some I was familiar with and some of which I am now a new fan.
See ya next year, Tilmon, TX.