New Driftwood Music Festival plans direct competition with Old Settler’s Fest in 2018

A screengrab of the website for the new Driftwood Music Festival, as it appeared on the internet on Tuesday.

News last month that the long-running Old Settler’s Music Festival would move from Driftwood to the Lockhart area in 2018 got a new wrinkle on Tuesday when a website announcing a new Driftwood Music Festival was launched.

The new fest plans to use the same Salt Lick Pavilion and Camp Ben McCulloch property where Old Settler’s was held for the past 16 years, and is scheduled for the same 2018 window of April 19-22 as the first Old Settler’s event in Dale just outside Lockhart.

The Driftwood Music Festival announcement comes less than a month after Salt Lick Pavilion owner Scott Roberts informed Old Settler’s staff that the property would not host the 2018 festival. Old Settler’s then accelerated its plans to move to the Dale site for 2018, ahead of the original 2019 plan.

READ MORE: Old Settler’s Fest moving to new location near Lockhart in 2018

Old Settler’s festival director Jean Spivey said Tuesday that when the announcement of the move to the new site was made on Aug. 10, she was not aware the Salt Lick Pavilion had plans in the works for another festival. Spivey said she learned of it shortly thereafter from volunteers who’d been contacted by the new festival. She said she also began to hear from artists’ agents that another festival might be in the works.

Spivey said subsequent research showed that two internet domain names for a Driftwood Music Festival were registered in early April and late July. Records from the Texas Secretary of State’s office show that Ryan Brittain and Scott Marshall filed to form Driftwood Music Festival, L.L.C., on July 11.

Marshall had been the Old Settler’s director of operations. Spivey claims that the new festival’s incorporation paperwork was filed “well before Scott Marshall gave us his resignation.” She added that Marshall had a two-year contract with Old Settler’s that ran through the 2018 festival.

Asked if legal issues might arise from the split, Spivey said, “Possibly.”

The Driftwood Music Festival website listed no specifics in regard to performers or ticket prices. A “2018 lineup” link stated that names of artists would be “coming soon,” along with photos of local performers Leeann Atherton (with the late Slim Richey) and Grace London. Update: Reached on Wednesday, both Atherton and London said they’d not been contacted by anyone with Driftwood Music Festival.

The website’s main page featured photos from past Old Settler’s festivals. “They didn’t use any of our photos with our permission,” Spivey said. (One picture, from the 2016 festival, was taken by American-Statesman freelancer Erika Rich. It appeared Tuesday that permission had not been granted by either the Statesman or the photographer.)

Spivey said she already has “a handful” of artists confirmed for Old Settler’s in Dale, with the booking process generally continuing until the end of the year or into January. “There’s one big one, and then there’s probably another 10 to 15 offers out” so far, she said.

Reached by text while in-flight on the east coast Tuesday, Austin musician Kevin Russell suggested that his band Shinyribs, a fixture at Old Settler’s in recent years, might not play either festival in 2018.

“We are booked at Merlefest (in North Carolina) the following Thursday so we expect to be touring in the South at that time anyway,” he noted. “It is fortuitous that I am in a position to bow out of both. Or maybe I’ll play Eeyore’s Birthday instead,” he added, referring to a traditional spring bash in Pease Park.

Russell confirmed that both festivals have extended offers to Shinyribs. “Jean Spivey and Scott Marshall are both people I consider friends,” he stated. “So it is rather disappointing and frustrating.”

Driftwood Music Festival has made no public announcements yet beyond the details on its website, but Austin-based public relations firm Giant Noise confirmed on Tuesday that it has signed the festival as a client. A representative from Giant Noise indicated the new festival would release more details this week. Driftwood Music Festival partner Brittain did not respond to an email on Tuesday requesting comment.

Meanwhile, Spivey said she’s continuing to focus on Old Settler’s move to its Dale location. She noted the festival has lined up a construction company, a construction manager and a landscape architect for the new property, which has more than double the acreage of the previous site.

“We’re looking forward to being in our new space. There’s a lot of breathing room out there,” she said. “I think it’s going to be very nice, and they really seem to be welcoming us in Caldwell County.”

She’s clearly not pleased with the conflict, though. “Of all the weekends they could have picked,” she said, “this is just not something we would ever have done. It’s just not the Old Settler’s vibe.”

RELATED: Past news and reviews of Old Settler’s Music Festivals


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