Central Texas artists help Old Settler’s return
After a COVID-imposed hiatus in 2020, Old Settler’s Music Festival makes its triumphant return to Tilmon next week, when it will bring its outdoor camping, four-day music experience to its full-time venue beginning Thursday, Oct. 21.
Festival Director Diana Harrell said that while there would be COVID-19 safety precautions in place, the experience put on by more than 600 volunteers would by and large be the same one that generations of fans who have attended have been missing since 2019, the last year for festival.
“People need to know we’re back — we’re back full strength,” Harrell said. “We’re excited to bring the community back together at the Old Settler’s homestead. There are so many folks who have not had the opportunity to see live music, and so many artists who have not had the ability to be in front of folks and entertain them. When you look at an artist, they don’t just make and write songs, they miss not having an audience to be in front of and share their work.
This year, the festival is focusing on Central Texas artists, with Jade Bird and Jamestown Revival headlining on the main stage on Friday and Saturday. The lineup is also dotted with familiar names that fans of the Central Texas music scene will recognize — Sam Bush, Jackie Vinson, James McMurtry, Carolyn Wonderland, Suzanna Choffel, Bob Schneider and Ray Wylie Hubbard, who closes the concert out on Sunday, Oct. 24.
“We’re really celebrating Central Texas artists this year, and we moved some of them over from our 2020 lineup,” Harrell said. “The lineup we pulled together this year is a lineup of festival favorites and artists you’ll discover.”
Harrell said that the absence of larger bands and musicians with a more widespread fan base was due in part to the situation that surrounded COVID-19 when they were setting the lineup. Scheduling artists with intense tour and travel schedules increased the likelihood of a COVID-19 cancelation.
“We were looking at some of the larger bands that are touring, and initially, we were talking to some, but they weren’t out touring at the time,” she said. “When you look back several months ago, it wasn’t comfortable for a lot of folks to be on tour.”
And, she theorized, the event that’s been an annual tradition for outdoor music festival fans since the late 1980s is about much more than the musical lineup.
“It’s generational,” she said. “It’s 34 years old. We have people who started coming out here in 1987, and they bring their kids now, who bring their kids. It’s something that happens every year for this community and it’s such a magical vibe. The community comes together every year to celebrate wonderful music.”
Those who attend or volunteer will be required to show a vaccine card or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Patrons will be asked to wear masks in situations where it’s impossible to socially distance, such as in lines or enclosed areas, and will have masks available to hand out to those who don’t have them. The footprint of the arena has been expanded to allow for more room between individuals, and vendors, like beer concessionaires and merchandise salespeople, will be required to mask up.
“We’re making sure it’s not a super spreader and we’re making sure we can do this safely,” Harrell said.
Features of this year’s Old Settler’s include:
The return of campground concerts and the late-night campground lineup, which features late night performances for night owls on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays next to the campground stage.
The House of Songs nonprofit group will put on a singer-songwriter workshop throughout the festival, and on Sunday, Suzanna Choffel, Carrie Rodriguez, Matt the Electrician and Graham Weber will perform songs they have written during the festival.
Sun Radio will be broadcasting live from the festival.
The Youth Competition will return on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 11:30 a.m.
Platinum and VIP ticket holders will have access to a happy hour from 5-7 p.m. each day where stage artists will perform acoustic sets.
Cari Hutson, who opens the event on Thursday at the Campground Stage, will perform Janis Joplin lyrics personally given to her by a member of Joplin’s band.
To see the full music lineup, visit oldsettlersmusicfest.org.