31st Annual Old Settlers Music Festival

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The beautiful weekend of the 31st annual Old Settlers Music Festival began on Thursday April 19 at a new spot in Tilman, Tx. There is not really a better way to start out any day, especially the first day of a fest, than with the beautiful sounds of The Deer. Their melodic sound always seems to mesmerize a crowd. 

Jamestown Revival was a great way to begin Friday night. With their soulful vocals and country twang. Jeff Austin Band was another we were excited to see, formerly from Yonder Mountain String Band. His undeniable talent of 20 years is so prevalent. The passion you experience while watching him on the mandolin is so incredible. He was accompanied by guitar, banjo, and upright bass. What added to the beauty of this set was the sunset behind the stage.  We then experienced that of what is Billy Strings. We had only heard from word of mouth the many fans that were so very excited for Billy Strings. He is known for his incredible picking skills and the amazing bluegrass musicians he has around him like, Drew Matulich on mandolin with banjo prodigy Billy Failing and much-loved Nashville bassist Brad Tucker. He ended his set with a cover of the Grateful Dead song "Me and My Uncle".  We then saw the much anticipated Greensky Bluegrass. They always seem to capture your heart and soul through their harmonious  banjo, dobro, mandolin, guitar, and upright bass skills.

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Saturday at Old Settlers started off just right with the beautiful instrumental sounds of Jon Stickley Trio. One can only expect the crowd at 11:00am on a Saturday morning at a music festival to be no more than a handful of people, but to our surprise, by the end of the trio's set the Original Black's BBQ Stage was packed with fans dancing along with their morning coffee. 

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The rest of Saturday was filled with lovely music and fun offerings. Playing with bubbles at the Bluebonnet Stage while listening to Balsam Range was especially entertaining. Their song, Voodoo Doll, had eerie, dark bluegrass undertones complete with storyteller lyrics.

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Darlingside brought a folk feel to the bluegrass festival and their vocals were absolutely astounding. The four musicians shared a microphone with incredible harmonies.

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The night ended in the most perfect way imaginable with Railroad Earth. The bluegrass jam band had the main stage vibrating with dancing fans. Almost everyone in the crowd had a partner they were dipping and twirling around. They started with "Bird in a House" and it set the stage for an epic evening. Once "Mighty River" was played in the middle of their set, there was a wave of excitement and an echo throughout the crowd during the chorus.

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Ending Saturday night with singer-songwriter Steve Poltz at Camp Shhhtimes was a match made in heaven. Poltz kept the crowd entertained with his hilarious stories. By the end of his set, everyone joined hands and sang "Ripple" by the Grateful Dead and "This Land Was Made For You And Me" by Woodie Guthrie.

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Sunday was an absolute perfect day to end our weekend. Blue Skies, beautiful new friends, and still beautiful music to be heard. No better way to celebrate Earth Day. Sunday consisted of musicians like Balsam Range, Steve Poltz, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Steve Poltz is one of a kind that is for sure and quite the story teller, he played "You Were Meant for Me", which he is well known for in collaboration with Jewel. We then ended our Sunday with Ray Wylie Hubbard, the folk singer with a vibe like no other. He was joined on stage by his son, who is quite the electric guitar player. One of his most recent songs is "Snake Farm" and is quite the sing a long. He ended his set with Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move".

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Old Settlers Fest is a community of people unlike any fest I have ever attended. It is a family of people that have been joining in harmony, some for almost 30 years. It is a fest filled with many kindred spirits of all ages. I highly recommend attending Old Settlers Music Festival for years to come. 

Photos by: Melissa Bordeau