Rooted in Americana

Austin’s cherished Old Settler’s Music Festival returns with new COVID protocol for 2021

Old Settler’s Music Festival returns with new COVID protocol for 2021

Old Settler's Music Festival
While the festival may look a little different this year, the music strums on. Old Settler's Music Festival/Facebook

Central Texas’ most cherished annual roots and Americana music festival — and a cornerstone of the Austin area’s treasured hippie-cowboy culture — is returning this fall after a canceled 2020 event.

Old Settler’s Music Festival, which began in 1987 as a one-day bluegrass fest and morphed throughout the years into a nationally recognized four-day camping and jamming event, will take to the stage in nearby Tilman, Texas (about an hour’s drive south of Austin), for its 34th annual installment October 21-24.

As usual, the festival includes a spectacular gaggle of masterful bands and musicians, many big Austin names among them (Jackie Venson, Bob Schneider, Carolyn Wonderland), and given the festival’s COVID-forced cancellation last year and subsequent postponement of the April 2021 reboot, Old Settler’s is taking no chances regarding safety at this year’s event.

In a news release from Wednesday, August 25, Old Settler’s says it will require festivalgoers to provide proof they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within 14 days of the event or provide proof they received a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of the fest. The rules apply to all attendees 12 and older.

It’s not the only area music event to recently announce attendees must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry. On August 19, the Austin City Limits Music Festival released its COVID-19 safety guidelines for the two-weekend October event, noting it will require vaccination or negative test proof for every festivalgoer. That followed a similar announcement from Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival tour, which stopped in Austin on Sunday, August 22.

In addition to the vaccination and negative-test requirements, Old Settler’s main and second stages, attractions, and facilities will be arranged in a manner that provides extra room for music lovers to maintain safe social distances without sacrificing the friendly, laid-back vibe and sense of community the fest is known for.

And festival campers will be thrilled to learn Old Settler’s — a nonprofit, by the way — has been, well, settling into its new 145-acre permanent home by adding a fully electrified campground powered by renewable green energy that eliminates that annoying generator noise so friends can actually hear the tunes floating from one pickin’ circle to the next.

Though it’s subject to change, here’s the full Old Settler’s Music Festival lineup for this year:

Thursday, October 21

Campground Stage

  • Cari Hutson
  • Will Taylor and Strings Attached
  • Della Mae
  • Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Steve Poltz
  • Zen City

Late-night Stage

  • Steve Poltz

Friday, October 22

Original Black’s BBQ Stage

  • Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
  • Jackie Venson
  • James McMurtry
  • Della Mae
  • Jade Bird
  • Cedric Burnside

Bluebonnet Stage

  • Steve Poltz
  • The Deer
  • Kelsey Waldon
  • Tony Kamel
  • Kalu & the Electric Joint
  • Fruition

Platinum Cocktail Hour Stage

  • Kimber Ludiker (Della Mae)
  • Tony Kamel

Saturday, October 23

Original Black’s BBQ Stage

  • Elijah Delgado (2019 Youth Talent Competition winner)
  • Folk Family Revival
  • The Arcadian Wild
  • Jeremie Albino
  • Logan Ledger
  • Tomar & the FCs
  • Jamestown Revival
  • Sam Bush

Bluebonnet Stage

  • 2021 Youth Talent Competition
  • The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
  • 2021 Youth Talent Competition winner
  • Hogslop String Band
  • Sierra Ferrell
  • Bonnie Bishop
  • The Travelin’ McCourys
  • Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King
  • Cold Spring Union

Platinum Cocktail Hour Stage

  • Cari Hutson
  • Jackie Venson

Zen City Late-night Stage

  • Hogslop String Band

Sunday, October 24

Campground Stage

  • The House of Songs
  • The Cleverlys
  • Bob Schneider
  • Ray Wylie Hubbard

Tickets — priced at 2020 levels — are on sale now on the festival website and prices range from $25 for Sunday only to $950 for all-inclusive platinum passes. Four-day general admission passes run $169-$210, and pricing for camping, electrical and parking permits, and other add-ons is also available online.

Those holding tickets from the 2020 canceled event are encouraged to use the site’s LYTE ticket-exchange service to sell or gift tickets to a 2021 attendee.