The day started out a little rough when our passes were missing and we were stuck outside the gate for an hour. This wasn't really to bad because the side stagewas right next to the fence, so I got a great view of Beaver Nelson's set. Unfortunately he didn't play too long. He got the 1:30-2:00 time slot which led to him having a small audience, but that didn't stop him from playing well. I am always impressed with Nelson's sets, he's really one of the best local musicians around Houston.
After Beaver's set, we got our passes and made our way in. The first band on the main stage was Reckless Kelly. I have heard nothing but good things about this band from both friends and in write ups. This had me especially excited about seeing them. The played a strong set, but they still didn't get a lot of time. They played an interesting version of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," which was a nice addition to their own songs.
The next set brought us back to the Side Stage. Rodney Hayden was the man up at the moment. The show was set up well with staggered scheduling so there would never be a musicless moment. Hayden played a good set, I didn't really get to into it, but it was a lot of fun. He played a cover of Dwight Yoakum's "Guitars, Cadillacs, Hillybilly Music" which was great closer to his set.
Now it was time for another short jog to the main stage to see Cory Morrow. I had never heard anything by Morrow before, but I had heard he was a great person to see. He was apparently very popular with everyone there because every song he played got sang right back to him by the crowd. It was a cool sight to see and made his set that much better.
When I saw the crowd that had congregated to see Roger Creager, I was in complete awe. I think everyone at the entire festival was crowded along the front of the stage to see Creager. He didn't disappoint anyone with his set. He played well and his band exhibited a lot of energy. His band had the total hillybilly look with overalls and other weird outfits, it was great to see. He really put on a great set.
I didn't go back to the Main Stage to see Jack Ingram because I wanted to stay around to talk to Slaid Cleaves and get prepared for the set. As soon as Cleaves' soundcheck began, dark clouds rolled in and with it came the rain. This added to the vibe of Cleaves' set.
Finally it was time for Slaid Cleaves and his band to take the stage. They opened with one of my favorite songs, "Horseshoe Lounge," which instantly had everyone singing along and getting into the vibe. Despite the rain, a large amount of people came over to the side stage to see Cleaves play. It was just as packed as it was for Roger Creager's set.
Cleaves played on for about 25 minutes, which was unfortunate because that only gave him time to play around 5 songs. My only complaint about the side stage was that the bands didn't get as much time as they needed, but that's the price you pay when attending a festival.
As soon as the set ended it was a dead sprint back to the Main Stage to see Charlie Robison. As always, Charlie played an impressive set. He played all of his best songs, including "You're Not The Best" which is one of the funniest songs he does.
I was suprised because Charlie played all his normal closers(Barlight, Hometown, and Sunset Blvd.) early in the set. This led to him closing with my favorite song off of his new album, "John O'reilly." This song gave a fitting close to one of the best sets of the day.
I'm really not a big Los Lobos fan so I went up to the hill and relaxed in the sun which once again shown through the clouds. I listened to a few songs but I didn't really pay any mind to the set because I was in desperate need of a break. It had already been 8 hours since I had arrived at the venue so I was enjoying my rest.
The final act of the night was Robert Earl Keen, the man behind this whole thing. As usual, Keen put on a hell of a set. He played all his staples, such as "The Road Goes On Forever", and had everyone into the set. It was a great way to close the night, sitting in the moonlight listening to everyone singing every word Keen sang right back to him. It was something very special to see.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.