Two years ago, the future of the long-running Old Settler's Music Festival seemed murky. Legal disputes had pitted former partners against each other as festival principals plotted a move from the Salt Lake Pavilion in Driftwood to a new property near Lockhart about an hour southeast of Austin.
Judging from this year's lineup, everything has worked out splendidly in the long run. Grammy-winning Americana acts Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile anchor the schedule on Friday and Saturday, respectively, giving Old Settler's the two biggest draws they've ever had. The fest's roots in bluegrass and folk music are on display with veteran grassers the Del McCoury Band and North Carolina's red-hot Mandolin Orange.
Other touring acts in the mix include New Orleans funksters Galactic, Oklahoma troubadour John Moreland, Nashville bluegrass group the SteelDrivers, Kansas City blues-rocker Samantha Fish and singer-songwriter Amanda Shires, who also is married to Isbell. A special set on Saturday afternoon features Los Legends, an ensemble of Texas Latin music all-stars including Flaco Jimenez, Ruben Ramos and Rick Trevino.
Old Settler's also has always relied heavily on Austin talent, and this year's bill is no exception. Popular Austin band Shinyribs, a festival regular for years, returns after taking 2018 off, while Black Pumas, our Austin360 Awards Breakout Act of 2018, makes their first appearance at the event. Indie darlings Wild Child play late on Saturday, with Grammy-nominated bluegrass outfit Wood & Wire appearing earlier that day. Local Americana songwriters also have a strong presence, with Jaimee Harris playing Thursday, Robert Ellis on Friday, Hayes Carll on Saturday and Jeff Plankenhorn on Sunday.
» READ MORE: Our interview with Robert Ellis, the "Texas Piano Man"
Old Settler's is counting on the return of campers who have been coming to the festival for decades, dating back to its origins in Round Rock in the late 1980s. The new site has significantly more room for camping, with a $99 add-on (plus additional fees for parking, electric and RVs) to the four-day pass price of $179. Those not camping can buy single-day passes for Friday and Saturday at $99 each, or $40 each for Thursday and Sunday. Platinum packages also are available.
The festival faces some competition this year from other high-profile music events in Central Texas. Willie Nelson's annual two-night stand at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels happens to fall on April 12-13 this year, with rising star Tyler Childers opening. And Oscar-winning country-rocker Ryan Bingham is launching a new event, the Western Festival, in Luckenbach on the same weekend with acts including the Old 97's, Son Volt, Jamestown Revival and Colter Wall.