Any music festival that thrives for 30 years must be doing something right, and by all accounts, the Old Settler’s Music Festival certainly is. The intimate spring event in the heart of Texas’ beautiful hill country earns acclaim year after year, and the 30th-anniversary festival promises to be the best collection of roots-music acts yet. The partial lineup includes the onstage debut of hot local Shakey Graves (who invented that moniker at the campgrounds while volunteering at Old Settler’s) and Grammy winners Sam Bush, the Del McCoury Band and first-timers Los Lobos. The festival also celebrates Austin’s own crowd-pleasing Shinyribs, the multi-talented Sarah Jarosz and the energetic bluegrass of Wood & Wire. Past audience favorites such as Elephant Revival, Gaelic Storm, the Peter Rowan Band and the Travelin’ McCourys are returning, too. The festival takes place Thursday-Sunday, April 20-23, 2017, at the Salt Lick Pavilion and Camp Ben McCulloch in Driftwood, just outside of Austin. Early-bird package sales start Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. via oldsettlersmusicfest.org.
These packages provide a savings of up to 28 percent over regular tickets, and only a limited number are available. Buying early assures access to camping — and late-night jams — at the popular Ben McCulloch grounds, where special shows occur Thursday and Sunday. To provide an optimum camping experience, RV/trailer passes are limited, and camping packages usually sell out.
Early-bird options are: four-day with camping, three-day (Friday through Sunday) with camping, three-day without camping and the all-inclusive platinum pass. (Children 12 and under may attend free when accompanied by a paid adult.) Daytripper (single day) tickets will go on sale Dec. 15.
More than 30 award-winning roots, bluegrass and Americana artists will perform on the festival’s four stages, including these first-timers: far-traveling Swedish folk band Väsen and Swedish-born New Orleans bluesman Anders Osborne; North Carolina’s Mandolin Orange (Americana/folk), The Honeycutters (country roots) and River Whyless (folk); Montana’s Lil’ Smokies (progressive bluegrass); Boston’s Session Americana (roots rock); The California Honeydrops (blues/R&B); and Michigan native Billy Strings (jamgrass). Not to mention rising star Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia), the Americana Music Association’s 2015 Emerging Artist of the Year. Returning band Wood & Wire actually formed at Old Settler’s, and Jarosz won the festival’s first youth talent competition in 2002. More artists will be added in the coming weeks.
Fans will find artist updates and other information on the festival’s website, redesigned by the Grammy-winning team at Austin’s Backstage Design Studio. That’s where they’ll also find a new video from Happened By Chance Productions, which completely captures the festival’s joyous, laid-back vibe — including the annual Shinyribs-led campground conga line.
From its origins as a one-day bluegrass festival, Old Settler’s has grown into a nationally renowned four-day affair attracting 16,000 roots music-lovers. As No Depression observed, “Old Settler’s is what a festival should be: simple, properly sized, stocked with excellent bands, and held in an environment where it is nearly impossible not to enjoy yourself.”
For the second year, the nonprofit festival will award scholarships to music majors attending two area colleges.
About Old Settler’s Music Festival
Old Settler’s Music Festival offers bluegrass, folk and Americana acts performing on four stages over four days, along with camping in the beautiful Texas hill country. Many music fans return annually for amazing performances by award-winning artists such as Sam Bush, Richard Thompson, Bruce Hornsby, the Mavericks, Alison Krauss and Bela Fleck, and favorite locals such as Patty Griffin, Bob Schneider and Ray Wylie Hubbard. For more information, visit oldsettlersmusicfest.org.