Old Settler's Music Festival is well regarded as a weekend of timeless roots music, camping, barbecue and tie-dye just south of the city. Typically scaled down as far as national talent is concerned, it’s safe to say the festival is upping the ante considerably this year as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.
On Thursday, Old Settler's announced an increasingly eclectic, but still stellar, lineup for the 2012 event, which will take place at the Salt Lick Pavilion in Driftwood, TX from April 19 – 22.
Headlining this year’s festival is indie one-man powerhouse Iron & Wine. Yes, Sam Beam resides in Austin, which makes him a good fit, but Iron & Wine as the headliner of a roots festival brings a new dimension, and likely a new audience, to the little festival down in Driftwood.
Another surprise finish to this year’s festival lineup will be Philadelphia-born easy rocker Amos Lee. Though not a native of our fine state, his latest release, Mission Bell — which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart — features guest performances by Sam Beam as well as Texas legends Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams.
With such a broad selection to choose from, it's hard to narrow down the "best bets" for Old Settler's, but here's a look at four acts with very distinct (and very diverse) sounds that will plant lasting roots this year.
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Isbell and his band walk a fine line between raw, gutsy tracks and bluesy, near-pop tunes. “Cigarettes and Wine” is a raspy waltz with subtle country hooks that will have you hooked after one listen. The self-titled album strikes a nice balance with heartfelt, easy-on-the-ear tracks like "The Blue" and "The Last Song I Will Write."
Jarosz is the darling of Old Settler's. A mere 20 years old now, she won the festival’s inaugural youth competition in 2002. The Wimberley native’s voice is beautiful, chilling and outweighs the tenderness of her age. "Run Away" is a stand-out track from her 2011 release Follow Me Down.
The Wheeler Brothers
All signs point to 2012 being a breakthrough year for this band of brothers. Their 2011 release Portraits provides a modern look at the changing landscape of Texas music. The title track has folky hooks and melodies reminiscent of The Grateful Dead, with hints of the Jayhawks seeping through other tracks in the form of lighthearted riffs and mindful harmonies.
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Getting back to the roots of the festival is bluegrass master, mandolin player Doyle Lawson. A member of the Country Gentlemen from 1971 – 1979, Lawson’s Quicksilver project maintains traditional bluegrass roots, but borrows from rock and folk, too, like their cover of Paul Simon’s “Gone At Last.”
Tickets to the Old Settler's Music Festival are on sale now. For the full lineup, visit www.oldsettlersmusicfest.org.