Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Jackie Venson headline storm benefit in Dripping Springs

DRIPPING SPRINGS — "It feels good to be back on a stage, y'all," Austin bandleader Ray Prim said on Saturday afternoon as he took the stage at Dreamland, a multifaceted new business in Dripping Springs. The occasion was a benefit for area farmers affected by the recent deadly Texas freeze, but those who attended may themselves have benefited from the opportunity to discover this intriguing facility.

Prim joined headliners Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, rising star Jackie Venson, Wild Child offshoot Sir Woman and R&B outfit Rochelle & the Sidewinders in helping to raise money for the Texas Farmer Winter Storm Relief fund. Attendance was modest for the late-afternoon/early-evening event, with around 100 people gathering in socially distanced tables and chairs in front of a sizable stage at the back of the spacious property that previously served as the primary facility for bottled-water company Richard's Rainwater.

The music was high-quality throughout, and Prim wasn't the only one who expressed appreciation just for the chance to play in front of an audience. Introducing Robison and Willis's set around 8 p.m., emcee Turk Pipkin said he'd asked Robison what he might say to the crowd about the duo. "Just tell them how happy we are to be out playing live music," Robison told him.

Jackie Venson performs at Dreamland in Dripping Springs on March 13, 2021.

Dreamland is a brainchild of Steve Kuhn, a former hedge-fund investor who moved to the Austin area from New York six years ago, largely because of Austin's vibrant music community. The venue grew out of plans last spring for a music and art festival that had been designed to promote awareness about immigration issues but was canceled after the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

READ MORE:Mini-golf, pickleball, music headline new Austin-area entertainment complex

In lieu of the festival, Kuhn made Dreamland into a multi-purpose venue centered around elaborate mini-golf courses, pickleball courts and a self-service beer and wine bar. Immigration-inspired sculptured and colorful artworks are scattered among the golf holes.

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis perform at Dreamland in Dripping Springs on Saturday.

Dreamland had its official grand-opening event on Friday with a sold-out show that featured Bob Schneider and Kalu & the Electric Joint. The sizable stage also features a state-of-the-art video screen, on which Dreamland will be showing many of next week's South by Southwest virtual music showcases, Kuhn said Saturday.

RELATED:Our Austin360 music picks for SXSW Online

In the near future, he added, Dreamland plans to book Austin artists for residency gigs at the venue. Kuhn said his hopes are for Dreamland to eventually have music seven days a week, when that becomes more realistic as Central Texas emerges from the pandemic.

Ray Prim performs at Dreamland in Dripping Springs on March 13, 2021.

The primary activity area occupies around 6 acres, but Kuhn said the entire property encompasses 80 acres. He says he's considering possible expansion projects that could include a large amphitheater venue.

In a statement last year when the ill-fated festival was first announced, Kuhn offered some of his thoughts regarding immigration issues, which he contends are ″filled with anger and closed minds.”

Kuhn founded a policy reform nonprofit, IDEAL Immigration, to address those issues. “We want to bring people together," his statement continued. "We want to open minds and hearts and let people enjoy each other to help make the discussion around immigration a more joyful and productive one.”