Old Settler’s Music Festival is one of the country's premier Americana music festivals, now celebrating its 29th year in the greater Austin area. Located 25 miles southwest of downtown Austin at the beautiful Onion Creek-lined Camp Ben McCulloch, the festival features 4 stages, performance workshops, arts & crafts and on-site camping—where the music is sure to continue on throughout the night.
Once again, the 2016 lineup features some of the biggest names in Americana music as well as some of the best bands calling Austin home. Here are five artists from both of those columns who are sure to make this year's festival one to remember.
Dawes (Los Angeles, CA)
10:30pm - Friday - Hill Country Stage
Friday night headliner Dawes should hold a place or three in the record collection of any serious fan of contemporary Americana. Since the release of their debut album, North Hills, Dawes has been refining and perfecting their Laurel Canyon-like sound, sweeping the nation with incredible live shows and recruiting thousands of fans in the process. Their most recent release, All Your Favorite Bands, is an excellent record, and captures a live, analog sound like you wouldn’t believe.
If you are at Old Settler’s this year, which you should be, you simply cannot miss this set. Their shows are some of the best sounding, most energetic and musically enlightening experiences one can have. Here is a tasty sample of their live performance of “When My Time Comes” off the record Nothing is Wrong.
Hayes Carll (The Woodlands, TX)
8:40pm - Friday - Hill Country Stage
Hayes Carll is without question one of the best storytellers, songwriters and musicians in all of country music. But whatever you do, don’t try and throw him into any one sub-genre (Texas-country, folk, Americana, honky-tonk). Carll has the innate ability to light up the stage with his up-tempo jangling tunes, only to seemingly cut the power on stage the next second and demand the audience’s attention with brutally honest songs that are filled with wit, humor and grace. Hayes is one artist that perfectly fits the Old Settler's bill. His set should not be missed.
Here's a live KUTX performance of “Another Like You” off his 2011 breakthrough release KMAG YOYO.
The Deer (Austin, TX)
11:00am - Saturday - Hill Country Stage
The Deer represent what the Austin music scene is all about—a great up-and-coming band, hot in pursuit of a career bringing their craft to listeners eagerly awaiting something fresh but classic at the same time. This band has been intriguing Austinites for the past 4 years with their psych-folk rock. The ensemble puts on a great live show, and this one promises to live up to the reputation. With an upcoming May album release, their setlist is likely to include many tracks from the new record, so do yourself a favor, support local music, and give The Deer a listen.
Check out the video below of The Deer performing “Farther,” shot live at Utopia Fest last year.
David Ramirez (Austin, TX)
4:40pm - Saturday - Bluebonnet Stage
Local singer-songwriter David Ramirez returns to play Austin after being on the road for a good portion of the last 8 months in support of his recent release, Fables. Released in August, 2015, the record is extremely well-written and well-recorded, and contains some really special moments among the backdrop of the deep-rooted familiarity of classic folk rock. Make sure you catch this one, as this set promises some of the best in current Americana songwriting, topped with a floater of uniquely Austin vibes.
Below is a video of Ramirez’s song “Harder to Lie” in a stripped-down version, shot live in the middle of Iceland. Dig.
Jay Farrar (St. Louis, MO)
6:10pm - Saturday - Bluebonnet Stage
Jay Farrar is playing the songs of Trace at Old Settler’s Music Festival. That’s all that really needs to be said here, but I’ll dig in a little deeper for those of you who may not be familiar with the man and this exceptional record.
Jay Farrar was one half of the alternative-country group Uncle Tupelo. Partnered alongside Jeff Tweedy, Uncle Tupelo would go on to leave a lasting impact on the scene with four amazing albums in a short three years. Once separated, Jay Farrar would go on to form the alternative-country band Son Volt, and Tweedy the more well-known Wilco.
Trace (1995) is Son Volt’s first album and remains one of Alt. Country’s greatest recordings. This record sees the band blending the dynamic styles of honky-tonk, rock & roll and country with a poignant richness that is uniquely present in Farrar’s iconic voice. It’s raw, sincere and unapologetic. This type of live performance is exactly what makes Old Settler’s so damn special.
Here’s Son Volt performing “Windfall” off Trace on Austin City Limits back in 1996.