Live Shots: Old Settler's Music Festival

Danny Barnes
Danny Barnes (Photo by John Anderson)

Old Settler's Music Festival

Salt Lick Pavilion, Driftwood, April 18

For 28 years, Old Settler's has endured its share of inclement weather, a consequence of occurring during rainy season. This year's storms hit both Friday and Saturday. On the latter day, Oklahoma's JD McPherson began rocking and rolling as the sky opened up with an accompanying light show, the title track of his new disc Let the Good Times Roll featuring the line, "Let the sky open up, let the good times roll."

Up until that point, the day had been a stirring representation of today's Americana scene. Local resident and mountain man Israel Nash conjured thunderous Crazy Horse-cum-Son Volt roots rock with his band in the noonday sun, while Nashville's McCrary Sisters' spiritual prodding demonstrated a maximum amount of funk utilizing the Staples Singers as their blueprint.

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis drew a huge crowd for their family hour featuring the former's splendid songwriting and the latter's skill on covers from Walter Hyatt and Dave Alvin. Nashville newcomer Lauren Shera impressed with a skilled acoustic trio that veered from dark to pretty. Jake Shimabukuro once again proved his wizardry on ukulele, wowing a massive dinnertime audience with songs delicate yet dexterous.

There were a couple of surprises that thrilled. Former Austinite and leader of onetime punkgrass trio the Bad Livers, banjo master Danny Barnes joined the Jeff Austin Band unannounced. Austin, formerly of the Yonder Mountain String Band, joked, "We've got that new-band smell. It's still got the sticker on it." The quartet cut an enthralling mix of bluegrass and jamgrass with fierce grooves and impossible interplay.

Less surprising yet equally satisfying was Hot Rize alter ego Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers, which offered inside jokes and cowboy songs. The quartet ended with the traditional side of Hot Rize, bluegrass staples "Train 45" and "High on a Mountain," performed with reverence and panache.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Old Settler's Music Festival
Heavy With Tradition, Old Settler's Music Festival Springs Eternal
Heavy With Tradition, Old Settler's Music Festival Springs Eternal
We talk to Sierra Hull and spotlight favorites for next week's campout

Kevin Curtin, April 15, 2022

Settling in but Never Settling at the Old Settler's Music Fest
Settling in but Never Settling at the Old Settler's Music Fest
Executive Director Jean Spivey looks back at three decades of roots music

Kevin Curtin, April 12, 2019

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey
Conspirators (Record Review)

Reid Jowers, Sept. 27, 2019

Texas Platters
The Texas Horns
Get Here Quick (Record Review)

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Old Settler's Music Festival

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle