Just over half an hour east from the heart of Austin, Bastrop breathes its own distinct influence into a densely cultural region. A town of fewer than 10,000 people and consisting of fewer than 10 square miles, Bastrop has served as a muse for countless musicians, artists and filmmakers thanks to its moniker as the “most historic small town in Texas.” In fact, Academy Award-nominated movies like The Tree of Life and Boyhood used the town as a significant backdrop.
Nestled among a unique region known as the Lost Pines — so named for a small forest of pine trees separated by more than 100 miles from their nearest counterpart — Bastrop attracts traveling musicians and music fans alike thanks to its quiet respite and small-town charm, where visitors can find world-class songwriters and musicians enjoying the town’s humbler offering of intimate stages.
9 Venues Including:
Copper Shot Distillery
Serving as the Bastrop Music Festival box office, Copper Shot Distillery is about as local as it gets (and one of the best box offices of any music festival). Opened by a husband and wife tandem, Copper Shot uses local rain water and local grains to make some of the finest quality small batch spirits in all of Texas.
Set in a historic building with a rustic outdoor stage overlooking the Colorado River, Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard is one of the most scenic places in Central Texas to take in the sounds of the festival. A from-scratch kitchen and craft cocktails delight the palate while songwriters fill the air with sweet melodies.
602 on Main
Housed in one of the oldest buildings in Bastrop, 602 on Main serves upscale farm-to-table food to go along with its intimate indoor shows and rockin’ outdoor shows. Though 602 on Main is relatively new to downtown Bastrop, the building traces its roots all the way back to 1890 and has served notably as a meat market and as several restaurants in that time.
If you want to feel like you’re taking in the sounds of Bastrop Music Festival from your own backyard, look no further than Gracie’s. Featuring homestyle cooking, famous chicken fried steak and an intimate outdoor performance gazebo, Gracie’s is the perfect hometown respite for festival-goers.
The Old Town
The Old Town Restaurant & Bar is basically everything you love about a local sports bar. This spacious, all-brick building might be Bastrop’s favorite spot for twice-weekly karaoke, but during the Bastrop Music Festival it’s all about the original talent performing their own sing-along-worthy songs.
Originally hailing from rural Oregon, Aaron McDonnell soaked up the traditional country of George Jones, Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty as they wafted in from his grandmother’s house. After touring with a few bands throughout the 2000s, McDonnell embraced those sounds and infused them into his own brand of neo-traditional country. Since going solo, McDonnell put out four EPs between 2013 and 2017, touring consistently and building a fan base behind his sweetly-tinged baritone.
Charlie Faye & the Fayettes
Who said the ’60s are in the past? Thanks to smart soul-pop infused with classic sounds from Charlie Faye & the Fayettes — including BettySoo and Akina Adderley —Bastrop Music Festival-goers get a chance to hear a modern twist on a timelessly classic sound. With a brand new album, The Whole Shebang, just hitting store shelves, Charlie Faye & the Fayettes have plenty of their unique brand of “new old school” to bring to the stage.
David Beck’s Tejano Weekend
If ever a band name told you exactly what you’re going to get when you head out to their show, it’s “David Beck’s Tejano Weekend.” Infusing modern Tejano with some nice pop sensibilities and, well, the good vibes of it being the weekend, the outfit delivers wholly danceable songs via accordion, upright bass, guitars, drums and more. The outfit is making their way all around Texas, with a stop at the Bastrop Music Festival on the books.
Chubby Knuckle Choir
What would a Bastrop Music Festival be without Bastrop natives Chubby Knuckle Choir? With a steady diet of live performances and a brand new EP called Afterglow now available, Chubby Knuckle Choir is well on its way since forming in 2009. The band features percussion like congas and bongos in lieu of a typical drum set and acoustic stringed instruments in place of the usual rocking electric guitars you see in Americana bands. But its performances pack just as much punch as any amp cranked to 11 — with twice the nuance and spontaneity. The result is a “musical gumbo” of country, funk, soul and blues.
After helming the uncontrollably funky Soul Track Mind out of Austin from 2008 to 2016, frontman Donovan Keith steps out with a new project all his own. Everything that made Soul Track Mind a hit — the voice, the energy, the showmanship, the moves — follows Keith in his new project Donovan Keith. With a new single already out, Keith is keeping the music coming. Keith took his soul and soothing vocals all across the country, sharing bills with such legends as Enrique Iglesias, Bing Crosby and Erykah Badu. He brings a whole new batch of songs to the land of the Lost Pines for fans eager to hear what he’s been cooking up.
Nearly 25 years into a career that includes Grammy nominations, world tours and chart-topping hits, Fastball remains one of Austin’s most endearing and enduring rock bands. After the rocket-like success of their major label debut, All The Pain Money Can Buy, in 1998, Fastball launched into a healthy habit of touring, expanding their adoring fan base well into the 2000s. And while songs like “The Way” and “Out of My Head” remain anthemic staples of their catalog, Fastball has remained a cornerstone of melodic, hooky songwriting long past adult contemporary radio’s decline. And while there was an uncharacteristic eight-year quiet period between 2009’s Little White Lies and 2017’s Step Into Light, Fastball has remained a fixture of the pop rock heyday, touring internationally to the delight of fans. After the warm reception to Step Into Light (recorded in Austin, of course), Fastball continues to debut new songs at their live performances, even hinting at a potential new record in the works. They’ll bring their unmistakable sound to a special appearance at the Bastrop Music Festival.
Folk Family Revival
Folk Family Revival are road warriors, no doubt. And they’ve made good work of their two albums, 2011’s Unfolding and 2015’s Water Walker, not to mention the 2016 deluxe reissue of Water Walker. Magnolia’s favorite sons fuse psychedelic rock with folk and country for a rootsy stomp of a good time. They call their shows “gatherings” and try to act accordingly, making their fans feel right at home on stage. With shows all across the U.S. and Canada in 2019, they’ll make a much-anticipated stop in Bastrop for the festival.
Graham Wilkinson’s new single, “Lucky,” may be the best way to sum up the charismatic performer’s positivity. Combining some of his greatest loves into an exciting cornucopia of reggae, hip hop, rock and acoustic jams, Wilkinson is kind of like a Texas Jack Johnson who fully embraces the “weird” motto of Austin, the city that’s helped shape him. Weaving tales of common folks and everyday struggles, Wilkinson always finds a way to highlight the silver lining. Even in somber subjects he finds an uplifting spirit. Call his style of music whatever you like, as long as you call it rejuvenating.
Harvest Thieves draw on their blue-collar and back-roads heritage to craft songs that sway from brutish garage-rock swagger to traditional country honesty. With punk-ish explosions in sound to finger-picked folk-rock simplicity, they’re a formidable addition to Austin’s historically minded music scene. Clever wordplay draped in rock ’n’ roll energy defines a Thieves’ live performance, making them a live act that demands attention on many levels.
At this point, Jack Ingram is as “Texas” as the cannon at Gonzales. And through more than two and a half decades as a country singer, he seems as steadfast and resilient as that iconic symbol of defiance. Getting his start at 22 years young, Ingram started by playing college bars before eventually touring with Mark Chesnutt. All the while Ingram released independent records, building a loyal fan base over 10 years before his 2002 record Electric served as a springboard to a deal with then-nascent label Big Machine. The mid-2000s served Ingram well in the mainstream world, where he notched six Top 40 singles and the 2008 Academy of Country Music Award for Best New Male Vocalist. But after 2009’s Big Dreams & High Hopes, Ingram retreated from the spotlight and shifted his focus from the mainstream Nashville route. He spent eight years mostly touring and serving as a Texas music ambassador, media personality and mentor to young upstart musicians looking to conquer the path he first trudged decades ago. In 2017, Ingram signed with Rounder Records and released Midnight Motel, a critically acclaimed selection of stripped-down songs from the mind of a well-worn troubadour and one of Texas country’s original innovators. Now he’s got a brand new record, Riding High … Again (April 26), and a single already being lauded as a true Texas original in “Where There’s a Willie.”
Joshua Ray Walker
Raised on the music of the Smokey Mountains, Joshua Ray Walker took a precarious path back to traditional country music — one forged by musical exploration and life experiences that most his age haven’t yet endured. He’s played his songs on stages all across Texas and beyond. Enthralling listeners with his brand of melodic, character-driven writing that puts a new spin on traditional story-telling country, Walker released his first full-length album, Wish You Were Here, in early 2019.
Kevin Anthony and G-Town
South Texas native Kevin Anthony brings a little Peggy Sue, Cajun fiddle, jumping sawdust and mama too on his 10th album, 2017’s Jump The Fence. It’s the kind of music your grandparents might have listened to on old-fashioned radio. But he also brings an authentic cultural twist by delivering several tunes in his native French (the band even recorded their most recent record in Southwest Louisiana). Anthony and his band G-Town are no strangers to the Gulf Coast area, with a steady slate of shows in Houston and Galveston.
Pat Byrne spent years touring as a drummer in bands around Ireland and Europe from 2007 until 2011, when he auditioned for The Voice of Ireland. Byrne excelled on the show, captivating audiences with his folksy rasp reminiscent of artists like Bruce Springsteen and Joe Cocker. He eventually won the first season in 2012 and began his recording career in earnest. With a sound falling nicely in the gaps of blues, folk and soul, Byrne brings a rootsy Irish twist to the Bastrop Music Festival.
Possums In The Fridge
You probably don’t need any more reason to go see Possums in the Fridge other than their awesome name, but you do, because these local Bastrop favorites bring one of the most fun nights you can have out on the town. They bring an eclectic mix of rockin’ tunes and personalities.
Rochelle & the Sidewinders
Composed of seasoned veterans of the Austin music scene with the common desire to play the blues, Rochelle & the Sidewinders focus on original music as well as classics by the likes of Etta James, Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy — with a few bluesy twists on some modern tunes, too. Rochelle is a dynamic and striking presence with a voice that cuts right through to the bone, and the band was two-time winners of the Heart of Texas Blues Challenge as well as 2018 International Blues Challenge semifinalists.
Shelley King Band
With an earthy Americana sound rooted in gospel and blues, Shelley King has had the honor of being the first female State Musician of Texas, performing with Levon Helm, touring the U.S., U.K. and Japan and keeping a steady diet of Texas performances in the meantime. Her 2017 album Fan Faves highlights her sultry vocals and Texas swagger.
This Texas quartet cleverly calls themselves a “Browngrass” band, which is “like bluegrass, just a little dirtier.” Think the ’60s aesthetic of bands like the Byrds and the Beatles mashed with the undeniable influence of rootsy footstomping music from Texas, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. First founded in 2009, Sour Bridges remains a tight-knit outfit delivering their hand-clapping sound across Texas and beyond.
Taylor Young Band
Taylor Young’s musical rap sheet is impressive. As a drummer, he’s toured with the likes of Young Heart Attack, Polyphonic Spree and more. As frontman for folk country duo the O’s, he’s played stages across the U.S. and Europe, supporting bands like the Old 97’s, Little Big Town, Brian Setzer and more. Now as a solo artist, Young is releasing dreamy new music that feels “kinda country, kinda spacey, kinda pop” and a lot worth your attention.
Tessy Lou & the Shotgun Stars
A Montana native, Tessy Lou Williams chose Austin over Memphis and Nashville when she was deciding where to plant herself for a career in music, and that made all the difference. A few albums in, Tessy Lou & the Shotgun Stars have developed a nice devoted fan base around their traditional country sound. With a residency at Poodie’s Roadhouse, Tessy Lou is constantly building her repertoire as a reliably solid live act.
An all-star band of some of Texas’ most in-demand musicians, the Texas Tycoons put on one heck of a party. Dynamic bandleader Paul Minor was the lead singer in the Argyles, one of Texas’ most popular party bands in the 1980s and 1990s. After that came to a close, he created the Texas Tycoons to celebrate the great legacy of Texas music. The band is like a living Rolodex of the state’s greatest musical contributors, from Buddy Holly to Willie Nelson to ZZ Top and beyond.
Formed in Austin in 1994, the Derailers have spent more than two decades exploring just about every crevice of the country music industry. At one point hailed as “the future of country music,” the Derailers are still going strong 24 years later. Their music celebrates the legacies of Buck Owens, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich and the Beatles, while still being on the edge of today’s country music. Founder Brian Hofeldt describes his view of country music as “finding out what love really is, versus what you thought it was when you were a kid.” For all the fans of the Derailers, love is all you need.
A 10-piece soul band from the heart of Austin’s music scene? Better believe it. The Nightowls go big, enveloping their signature upbeat sound with horns, anthemic backing vocals, punchy guitar, and infectious grooves. If that sounds exciting on record, just imagine the vibe during their live shows. The Nightowls recorded a 2015 EP at FAME studios in Memphis and released their album We Are the Nightowls in 2018.
The Peterson Brothers
Bastrop natives the Peterson Brothers’ talent certainly isn’t a secret in Austin thanks to their consistent performance schedule all around Central Texas, but their youth and virtuosity continues to impress new fans. Glenn Jr. and Alex started at only 14 and 11 years old, but their brand of bluesy, soul-filled funk feels ageless. Now several years down the road, watching this duo grow up is something special. They’ll again bring their heat back to Bastrop for the festival.
Tomar & the FCs
Tomar & the FCs’ frontman Tomar Williams perfected his exultant live performance through decades in the business, including time as a producer for some of Houston’s buzziest rappers, like Big Mo, Mike Jones and Paul Wall. Though they’ve only been back on the scene since 2015, Tomar and the FCs have landed official SXSW showcases and a coveted spot representing Austin on NPR’s lauded “Tiny Desk Concert” series. A soul band with plenty of attitude, they keep a steady diet of Texas shows on the books to keep new and returning fans excited.
Vincent Neil Emerson
Though still quite early in his career, Vincent Neil Emerson is gaining buzz as one of the more promising singer-songwriters to hail out of East Texas in quite some time. Opening shows for the likes of Turnpike Troubadours, Charley Crockett, American Aquarium and more, Emerson has been touring with Colter Wall while working on his forthcoming debut album.
Dickie Lee Erwin
Larry Landers with Larry Wilson, Jill Bates & Rick Wood
Tommy Mojica & Wendy Parnell (Kids Show)