Waltstock & Barrel - A Texas Wine & Music Festival
We just got back from one of my new favorite music festivals in Texas - Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival in Fredericksburg - put on by Walt and Tina Wilkins, a slew of volunteers, and several good folks from Fredericksburg. Walt was reluctantly talked into having this festival by some enterprising Fredericksburg residents and entrepreneurs - Susan Johnson, KK Welch, and Robbyn Dodd were the mission leaders.
When Walt finally agreed to the Festival, the first artist he reached out to for the first Waltstock & Barrel Music & Wine Festival was Greg Trooper - "a truly great songwriter and performer and everything you want your favorite artists to be - gracious, humble, wickedly funny, kindhearted, and cool. I wanted him here for this weekend, selfishly, because I never got enough hang time with him. Unfortunately, Greg passed away in January and so this weekend is for Greg Trooper."
A Little About Walt & Tina Wilkins
To truly appreciate this Festival and Walt and Tina, you need to know a little bit about them, so here goes - the majority of the quotes are from Walt's comments in the Festival program.. Walt started his spiritual journey as a musician at the age of 8 - "I've always been inspired to write, and it started when I was young. I haven't stopped learning and growing ever since." After writing and performing in Texas, his talents got noticed by some Nashville producers and Walt moved to Nashville to get the "chance to write and sing with some of his heroes." In Nashville he fell in love with Tina and shortly, thereafter, they returned to Texas to "stick to his roots and return home to his family, friends and true calling in Texas."
Walt has written and produced a number of songs, sang and toured with Tina, and in 2006 at Gruene Hall formed the "Texas Hill Country super-group" named Walt Wilkins and The Mystiqueros. Walt and The Mystiqueros are unequivocally my favorite Texas band (great songs, unbelievable harmony and passion, fun lively sets, and outstanding musical talent) and every time we have seen them perform we hated to see the set end and when it did the first words out of our mouth were typically "wow, wow, wow - that was special. Those guys are good!"
Walt stated that "if you've seen me twice, you've probably found something in the songs that you and I have in common" which I imagine is why a lot of the festival attendees were at Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival. It's easy to fall in love with Walt and Tina and The Mystiqueros and their personality, outgoing attitude, and outstanding and entertaining music - it just doesn't get any better!!!
Someone at the Festival asked Walt how many people he knew personally that were attending the festival, and he didn't know the answer but he said it's a high percentage. In attendance were a lot fellow artists, high school and college friends, his parents, lots of people he's played with or written songs with or toured with, and even some friends he met on a tour in the Netherlands! When they weren't singing or playing MC, Walt and Tina spent every moment during the entire festival mingling and dancing and socializing with their fans, friends, and family - lots of hugging, laughing, kissing, and going out of their way to meet new people. What a great couple. It's hard to express my feeling about Walt and Tina and I don't know them except from previous festivals and a brief "hi," or a very short conversation, or from what people have said about the Wilkins. For example, Lloyd Maines (a record producer, musician and songwriter who was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall Of Fame as one of the first three members, the other two being Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan) commented: "Walt and Tina are the kind of people that everyone would want to have as their next door neighbor!" They are sincere, honest, open, funny, talented, and lots more similar superlatives! And when you meet them it's more about you than it is about them. And part of what made Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival great was because it was reflection of their unique personalities.
Waltstock & Barrel Music & Wine Festival in Fredericksburg in April 2017
In the Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival program Walt stated that "I want the festival to be a great experience for you. Fun. Memorable, Transcendent, even. Good folks, good wine and beer, music that I'll be proud to show you, and a lot of great people gathered in a beautiful place. Consider this your invitation from me."
Walt's opening welcome statement in the program which also attests to his character included: "thank you dear attendee for being here. For being the kind of soul that digs music and a good time. For supporting live, home-grown music. Enjoy the music, food, wine, and vibe. Enjoy your friends and make new friends. There are a lot of good souls here." And we did all of that and agree that a large part of what makes this festival fun, in addition to the good music, was the food, wine, setting, friendly vibe, and the "good souls." What a fun festival - one of our favorites and we've attended a lot of Texas music festivals. I just hope he makes this an annual event.
Some of the highlights from this year's Waltstock & Barrel Music & Wine Festival included:
- Walt's description and personal introduction to each of the artists he invited for our enjoyment - for example, in other music programs most of the artist bios are written by the artists and used over and over again from their website but Walt wrote all of the bios for his program and included his personal thoughts about each artist, in fact, that's what I've used for describing the artists below.
- all of the music was outstanding, original, unique and different and from some fantastic songwriters, artists, and musicians
- a fun, friendly, older (40s and up) group of music fans - no trash, no loud talking, and no rowdy drunks - just some good folks out to enjoy the music, dancing, and vibe
- a great setting in a fantastic city with lots of music, wineries, restaurants, and fun things to do - see our Fredericksburg page
The Music at Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival
This years Festival was held at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Hill Country RV Resort, about 8 miles south east of Fredericksburg. A large white tent with a stage and excellent sound system and rows of chairs was set up for the music each day. On Friday the Festival kicked off at high noon and continued until 11 PM or so. The line-up included the following - again, most of the comments about the artists are from Walt and his Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival program:
- 5th & Main - 3 songwriting soulful singing Stabelin brothers (ages 20 to 23) that form a powerful unit with songs beyond their years and energy to spare - it's an honor to get to show them off to you
- Left Arm Tan - smart interesting songs with cool arrangements, beautiful tones, and great harmonies
- The Chris Berardo Acoustic Trio - they make cool, vibrant waves and Chris is the outrageously great singing rocker and Mark is the insightful, intelligent writer - a dependably cool and completely unique outfit. Dig!
- Jamie Richards Band - my favorite singer and his cool records are full of great country songs - Jamie's the realest of deals, a good hang, and a good man
- Tommy Alverson Band - Tommy is a killer guitar player for the ages and sings straight from his big, open heart - he's a honky-tonk king, a great songwriter, a performer I'd like to be, a kind and treasured colleague, and the host of one of our favorite music events (also one of Texas Outside's favorites, read our review of October's Tommy Alverson's 2016 Annual Family Gathering)
- Red River Songwriters - Drew Kennedy, G-Ride Josh Grider, Systiquero Susan Gibson, Memphis as heck Kelley Mickwee, Rocker Brandy Shazam Zdan, and Walt are the Red River Songwriters that were formed when Drew asked some friends to make a new music festival up in the mountains of New Mexico and now we're working on Festival #6 which was sold out - a fantastic song swap from some very talented singer songwriters
- The Waltstock Jam - with the mystiqueros serving as the band and backup singers for 3 songs each by Larry Joe Taylor (his personality and music festivals are a shining thread on the Texas music landscape and he's a smart and savvy songwriter with a voice as Texas as anything - I dig LJT), Tommy Alverson (Tommy is us - the first Mystiquero), Drew Womack (Drew's voice is velvet...gold...a beautiful river at twilight - it's that special and a pleasure to listen to and his songs are completely unique to him and shimmering reflections on the human journey - a great dude that is wry, smart, cool), Brandon Rhyder (a dear friend with a big, timeless voice and a gift for great, hooky choruses), and Owen Temple is one of my favorite writers, and humans - he is widely and deeply treasured in this tribe. What a fantastic Jam - I loved the format (3 songs by each), the artists, and the choice of songs and hated to see it end. And ending was outstanding with any of the artists still hanging around coming on stage for a final song.
What a fantastic day of music and one of the best that we've enjoyed at any of the festivals that we've attended! And Saturday was just as good and included (again, the comments about each artist are from what Walt said in the program about each artist):
- Mike Blakely Trio which included the outstanding guitar player Larry Nye, Mike's wife, Ann Blakely, and fiddler Kurt Baumber - I think Mike is kind of a genius and I have never spent a second around him when I wasn't having a good time - I think of him as being the poet laureate of the Hill Country and even that vaulted title is too humble for his many gifts
- Tina Mitchell Wilkins, Ron Flynt, and Dick Gimble - Tina has found her truest path singing the songs that mean the most to her - a wonderfully unique songwriter, with that voice, and that smile, and that charisma
- Jon Byrd - Jon's songs and voice with his great poetry and big spirit are among the best things that we found in our time in Nashville - it's a great joy to introduce Jon to you today
- Michael Hearne & Shake Russell - it's pretty unfair really! They both write great songs, sing like birds, and one of them plays guitar like a golden god - these two legendary troubadours are a wide, shining banner of everything we love. A great set that concluded when several artists joined Shake and Michael on stage for "New Mexico Rain"
- Davis Raines Trio - I can't imagine my time in Nashville without David, he provided me with inspiration, friendship, and a connection to the treasured, perhaps mythical Nashville of the past - Davis is as bold and direct as Billy Joe, as uncompromising as Waylon, and as poetic as St. Hank himself
- Bob Livingston's Cowboys and Indians Show - by the end of the 70's Bob was already real and he played on records that made our music world down here what it is and this set included music and artists from his visits to India so it included native Indian instruments, dancers, and drums mixed with Cosmic Bob's songs and voice - it will carry you away. And it truly did, what a fun set
- Johnny Nicholas & Hellbent - an Austin all-star band led by one of the soulfulest cats anywhere - Johnny is root music royalty and Helbent is so good - heavy dudes, great songs, and righteously, deeply groovy
- Gimble Family Western Swing Show - one of Walt's first calls was to ask the Honorable Brother Dick Gimble to put together a Texas Swing Band and he did it - I am so grateful and happy that they are here with 3 fiddlers, steel guitar, keyboard, stand up bass plus guitars and drums and some excellent swing music that got the fans dancing
- Zac Wilkerson Band - his band might be the hottest thing going in Texas right now, they are as Texas as the Jacksboro Highway and as uniquely American as the AME Church, and as universal as R&B everywhere - this is what Saturday night is for
- Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros - another set we wished had gone on for another 3 hours - these guys know how to make you stand up and cheer and pray it never ends
- Ray Rodriguez - the drummer you dream of if you're a kid dreaming of playing music with a brilliant mind, deep soul, and funny as hell
- Bill Small - besides being our famously groovy bass player, Bill is a guitar slinger, songwriter, super-pro class session singer, engineer, producer, and life coach
- Corby Schaub - one of the most unique guitar players I've ever known
- Jimmy Daddy Davis - with the tri-fecta of cool appearances (The Grand Ol' Opry, MTV, and Hee-Haw), Jimmy is a great soul, country, and rock-n-roll singer and he always has a huge smile on his face and seems to always enjoy each set (my comment)
- Ron Flynt - as cool as cool gets, he's our yogi
- Bart de Win - a piano virtuoso and a brilliant singer and songwriter and the closest human to Cary Grant as we're liable to meet
- Tina Mitchell Wilkins - our chick singer and a really, really good one that makes us look a lot better
Wow, the Mystiqueros know how to make music and they have a blast doing it and each set is always a little different. Here's what Walt said about the Mystiqueros in the program: "the Mystiqueros have provided me with the chance to be in a real, kick-ass touring band that plays original music. And the gravy on that dream is that it has been the most fun I've every had. 10 years, 4 records, 1500+ gigs, a hundred thousand miles, 14 states, 2 continents, 9 full time members past and present, honkey-tonks, dives, parking lots, dance halls, festivals, and theaters plus too many great nights to remember, oceans of laughter, lots of beers, and good beers because we care about that. We've been a home for wayward souls, a circus, a house band, a backyard band, openers, headliners, and a touring band playing original music that fears no one, ever."
Walt seems to love all of the artists that entertained us as much as they admire him - in fact, it seemed like every artist had some kind words to say about Walt and Tina and about some of their experiences. Almost all of artists sang at least one of Walt's songs or songs that they had written together. Another tribute to Walt and Tina's character and talent
It's Not Just About The Music at Waltstock & Barrel Music & Wine Festival
The fans that attend outdoor festivals are a large part of what makes any outdoor festival fun. At Waltstock & Barrel the fans seemed to reflect the personality of the Wilkins - outgoing, friendly, and fun loving, They were quiet and respectful when the musicians played, anxious to talk music and make some new friends, and out to have a great weekend. See this page to see more Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival fans.
Walt wanted this festival to not only reflect his favorite musicians but also showcase the Texas Hill Country and, in particular, the wine of Texas and, specifically, some of the over 40 excellent wineries in Fredericksburg. As such there were 8 wineries (4 of which are local to Fredericksburg - 1851 Vineyards, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, Rivenburgh Wine, Valley Mills Vineyards, 4.0 Cellars, Barons Creek Vineyards, Ron Yates, Lost Draw, Fredericksburg Wineries, Fat Ass Ranch & Winery) that offered samples, a glass, or a bottle of some of their best wine for sale.
Plus there were some local brewery beers to be enjoyed - Pedernales Brewing Company, Oasis Brewing Company, Alamo Beer Company, Real Ale, and Karbach Brewing Company. I'm not sure but I may have sampled a few too many of these over the three days! And they all were excellent with some unique and enjoyable tastes.
In addition to some local wineries and breweries, local artists were there to showcase and sell art/paintings, jewelry, clothing, and more. Some of the food vendors didn't show up but you could get some fire baked pizza or gyros from Burned Out Pizza, lobster rolls and more from Cousins Main Lobster, and burgers, appetizers, ice cream, and lots more from the Jellystone Park concession stand.
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Hill Country RV Resort was host to Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival. They have full hook-up RV sites, tent sites, and a variety of cabins all within a two minute walk to the music tent. In addition, they have lots of great amenities to enjoy during the festival - an arcade, pool table, and shuffleboard table; sand volleyball plus horseshoes and washer pits (the winner of the Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival washer tournament won a pair of Chippewa Boots); a bounce pillow and playscape; a pool and hot tub; and lots more.
Jellystone's sites and cabins sold out shortly after the Festival was announced so we stayed 3 miles down the road at the Fredericksburg KOA (a great RV park). There were plenty of options for those who didn't want to camp - lots of hotels, several B&Bs, and some other unique lodging. And best of all Majesty Tours (with fun Hill Country Wine Tours) offered complimentary event shuttle service for hotel guests at several of the Fredericksburg hotels.
If you're planning on coming to what we hope to be another Waltstock & Barrel Music Festival, you might consider being a sponsor. In addition to supporting a great festival, sponsors at this year's festival were invited to:
- Thursday Night Sponsor Party which included:
- free dinner with some excellent appetizers (the meatballs were outstanding as was an excellent spread that went on grilled bread - I never did figure out what it was but it was delicious)
- a meal that included BBQ chicken and sausage, beans, potato salad, all the fixings and 5 or 6 different outstanding cakes from Sandiland Baking - I may have eaten 6 slices of each one but the chocolate was unbelievable
- free beer and wine and soft drinks
- a great set by Tessy Lou & The Shotgun All-Stars - Walt said: one of my favorite songbirds since she came to town from Montana - the band is for real, this music is right where I live, and Tessy's voice is a clear and deep and pretty as a western sky
- Saturday morning Bloody Marys, two types of delicious breakfast tacos and several salsas to go with them, sausage, chips and salsa, and a variety of scrumptious cinnamon rolls and biscuits. Plus a beautiful set by Walt and Tina Wilkins - what a great way to start the day!
There were lots of volunteers that helped make this one of the best festivals and Walt admitted several times that he didn't do squat, except pick the musicians he wanted to showcase Woodstock & Barrel Music & Wine Festival - the volunteers and organizers and sponsors made it happen. The volunteers did an excellent job, the sound and stage crew were great, and the Jellystone staff ran their end of the business well.
Our special thanks to the volunteers and KK Welch from Majesty Tours, Susan and Billy Johnson, and Robbyn Dodd Photography who put a lot of time and effort into convincing Walt to have the festival, getting sponsors, coordinating vendors, and lots, lots more to make sure the Festival was a success - great job! Now you need to convince the Wilkins to do it again!