Old Settler’s Music Festival celebrated its 29th anniversary last weekend in the idyllic countryside of Driftwood, Texas. The cherished festival boasts a “Texas-friendly vibe” and the staff, volunteers, artists and fans, more than lived up to this reputation. With two stages and limited attendance, Old Settler’s maintains an intimate feel despite being a mere 30 minute drive from Austin’s city limits.
This year’s lineup featured notable Americana and soul acts including Dawes, Deer Tick, The Suffers, Hayes Carll, The Band Of Heathens, The Milk Carton Kids and many others. Beyond the incredible artistry on display, there were tiny details and moments that heightened the bucolic feel of the festival. Blooming planter boxes lined the stages adding to the spring time feel of the festival, a creek with a waterfall flowed nearby, string lights wrapped around trees added a coziness to sunset, while activities like corn-hole and face painting added to the relaxed atmosphere.
Friday’s lineup featured a number of stand-out performances. Deer Tick, despite starting late due to sound issues, took the delay in stride and delivered a spirited set rife with John McCauley’s raspy, anguished vocals. Guitarist Ian O’Neil shared the mic as well, and sang a moving rending of Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes.”
Nine-piece Houston outfit The Suffers turned the festival up to eleven with their electrifying set. People couldn’t resist grooving along to lead singer Kam Franklin’s buttery smooth vocals and the band’s soulful funk arrangements. The crowd enjoyed the grooves so much in fact, that they called The Suffers back for an encore – which they happily obliged.
Singer-songwriter Hayes Carll impressed with his contemplative ballads ands strains. It was my first introduction to the singer and his earnest vocals and pensive disposition lulled me into a peaceful state of being. One that seemed to transpire across the Hill Country Stage.
Dawes closed out the night playing a string of hits including “Things Happen,” “All Your Favorite Bands,” “If I Wanted Someone,” “Time Spent In Los Angeles” and many more. The climax being when Dawes belted out “When My Time Comes.” Asking the crows to join in on the chorus, we gladly did and then some. With hands lifted in the air, dancing and shouting, the moment was euphoric, cathartic, and everything music is meant to be.
Thank you Old Settler’s for the hospitality and the sounds. Here’s looking at 30.