Old Settler’s Music Festival 2019 was held April 11-14, 2019 at their Homestead in Tilmon, Texas, a hop, skip, and a jump outside of Austin. Since 1987, Old Settler’s has been a beloved festival for Austinites and many others near and far, providing long weekends full of live music, camping, local food and drink vendors, arts & crafts, and plenty of dancing. For me, Old Settler’s has become a festival near and dear to my heart, and I know many others share the same sentiment.
This was my fourth year in attendance and I was particularly excited for the festival this year given I’d finally be camping, an experience I’ve been wanting to have since I was first introduced to Old Settler’s (you can read more about that here). Friday morning finally rolled around and we set out to the beautiful Homestead, surrounded by wildflowers and blue skies. It was going to be a weekend to remember.
If you’ve been to Old Settler’s you’ll probably agree with me on this – there is TONS to unravel after an experience like this festival and SO much to share. I don’t want to end up word vomiting to y’all, so I’m going to organize my thoughts as best as I can by breaking this wild experience into four categories – the music, the camping, the vendors, and the community.
Let’s dive in!
First and foremost, we’ve got to talk about this year’s lineup which was quite possibly the best it’s ever been. Headliners included Grammy-winners Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile who lit up the Original Black’s BBQ stage on Friday and Saturday night, while the Bluebonnet stage spread all the love with Mandolin Orange and The Lone Bellow. Daytime highlights included Penny and Sparrow, Wood & Wire, and The Last Bandoleros.
Now, I know what you might be thinking – “Leigh, I have no idea who the heck these folks are.” Not to worry! I’ll be spending some time doing a deeper dive into some of these sets and will be breaking out each day’s experiences in separate recaps. More to come, y’all!
One of the nicest things about Old Settler’s is that each set is scheduled in a way that lets you catch a least half of every artist’s performance. Plus, the stages are in perfect proximity to each other: far enough that you can’t hear the other acts bleed over, but close enough to be a short walk. I truly can’t think of a better set up than Old Settler’s.
As I mentioned earlier, this was my first year camping at Old Settler’s and I am a fully converted camper now – I’ll honestly never go back to being a day-tripper. Camping opened up a whole new world of Old Settler’s, one that I want to explore even more of next year. The campgrounds are clean, easy to get around, and they have everything you could possible need for purchase at the camp headquarters.
All this being said, there are a couple things I would do differently next year. First of all, I’d arrive much earlier. We unfortunately weren’t able to get the Old Settler’s until Friday afternoon which left us with very limited options when it came to spots. It’s essentially first come, first serve, so the sooner you get there, the better the spot you can snag. We thankfully ended up squeezing into a fairly decent spot next to the Campground Stage in Camp Banjo. We didn’t mind the noise too much at night (thank you, earplugs!), but if we had wanted a quieter spot we likely would have chosen Camp Armadillo.
For reference, you can view the campground map here.
Camp Banjo was lively and vibrant, full of musicians, bands, and incredibly friendly people. Music rose across several tent sites from dusk to dawn (no joke, I woke up at 8AM and still heard the same people jamming out from the night before, who I think at one point were singing songs from The Lion King?) – these Old Settlers know how to party. Another regret this year was not immersing myself in more of that. Though we had every intention of staying up late to attend jam sessions throughout the campgrounds, we found ourselves so worn by the end of the day. Sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs (but next year, you better bet I’m going to be ready to PAAAARTY!).
This year, Old Settler’s brought in even more vendors than the previous, some of the best shops, eats, and drinks from Austin. Though we made our own breakfast each morning, we loved the large selection of food options for dinner. Some of our favorites this year included Torchy’s, Cooper’s Concessions, and Big Phan. With the wide array of cuisines, anyone with any type of dietary restriction or preference could easily find something that could fill their belly.
The drink options were on point as well, with multiple tastings throughout the day from Austin East Ciders, Bell’s, NXNW, White Claw, and Independence (we totally took advantage of each tasting). Winos could enjoy a nice bubbly, rosé, or red from Infinite Monkey Theorem (one of my FAVES!), while beer snobs could choose from a variety of craft breweries across Texas. Non-alcoholic refreshments included kombucha from Buddha’s Brew, Waterloo water (who was handing out free cans of their two new flavors – grape and strawberry!), fresh lemonade, and coffee from a variety of local roasters. With watering holes around every corner, there was no trouble quenching your thirst.
Now, for the shops! Old Settler’s always brings in the coolest artisan, craft, and clothing vendors which results in me wanting to spend my whole paycheck. Though I held back on my spending this year, I still enjoyed browsing through the tents and pop-up shops, trying on jewelry (my weakness), and adoring all the adorable, festival-y clothing. Some of my favorites this year included Pink and Silver, To The Moon, and the various artisan stands within the festival.
As I’ve said many a time, Old Settler’s creates an environment and community like no other. It’s a place that feels like home, a place you feel free to be open and your true self. To dance how you want to dance and just enjoy the music, the nature, and the people around you. Unlike other festivals, Old Settler’s attendees aren’t there to be seen or to show off their best Instagram photo. They aren’t there for the novelty of a festival or just because they like “that one band.” They are there to genuinely enjoy themselves, be the best version of themselves, and find joy through music and community. With that, comes an authenticity that is rare, a friendliness that is unique.
At Old Settler’s there is no pushing through crowds, no struggle to see the stage. For lack of better term, this festival is just straight up chill. A time to kick back, enjoy a beer, and immerse yourself in the music. If you haven’t experienced it for yourself yet, I highly recommend you do, even if you claim to not be a “festival person.” Old Settler’s redefines “festival,” an experience of it’s own kind.
Do you like music? Old Settler’s is for you. You like camping and nature? Old Settler’s is definitely for you. Do you like connecting with soulful and good-hearted people? Then Old Settler’s is for sure for you. Old Settler’s has more to offer than most other music events out there. For many, it’s a home away from home.
Check back in later this week for more recaps and photos galleries from OSMF 2019, and be sure to check out our other music adventures here!
Leigh is a native Texan gone temporary New Yorker and now proud Austinite. Passions include but are not limited to music (both as a spectator and dabbler), traveling & cultural adventures, film & television, true crime, design (of the fashion, interior, and graphic sorts), and photographing & writing about all the aforementioned. Self-acclaimed coffee connoisseur & wino, cat aficionado, book worm, and nature junkie.