October 14-16, 2022
Camp Ben McCulloch, Driftwood, TX
The 15th Annual Austin String Band Festival is the weekend of October 14-16, 2022, at Camp Ben McCulloch in nearby Driftwood, TX. Join us for a weekend of music, camping, jamming, dancing, and friends.
This family-friendly festival brings together musicians and roots music enthusiasts from Central Texas and beyond. In addition to two stages of live string band performances, there'll be dances, workshops, kids' activities, and tons of campsite jamming.
Admission & Tickets
Tickets will be available on-site at the admissions gate. Cash, cards, and checks will be accepted.
AFTM members get discounted prices and their support really helps us put on this festival and other events. Please consider joining or renewing via our membership site: https://app.joinit.com/o/aftm. You can also check your membership status there using your email address to log in.
|Friday Day Pass||Saturday Day Pass||Full Weekend Pass|
*Valid Student ID is required
Kids under 16 are free!
|7 PM||Funyun Creek
Old Time square dance
caller Sharon Isaac
|8 PM||Charles Thibodeaux and Austin Cajun Aces
Lively authentic Cajun dance music
|9 PM||Spencer & Rains
Old Time square dance with old Texas tunes
caller Marc Airhart
Classic country singing of the '40s, '50s, '60s
|3 PM||Christy & the Plowboys
Music borrowed from old 78s and fiddlin’ picked up new
|4 PM||Chansons et Soûlards
French dancehall music of south Louisiana
Scandinavian and Celtic Folk
|6 PM||Felipe Perez
Conjunto Accordion Master
|7 PM||Mayday Mayday
Old Time square dance
caller Rich MacMath & Friends
|8 PM||The Hillsiders
Hard-driving Bluegrass with old time influence
Spencer & Rains
|10 PM||Women of Western Swing
Outstanding traditional Texas dancehall style
|11 PM||Crazy Square Dance
Come find out what kind of late-night fun this is!
In between the Main Stage performances we'll have mini-stage sets featuring various local performers.
Cajun Fiddle and Guitar
Michael Perron - Chansons et Soûlards
1/3 about Cajun Fiddle techniques, 1/3 about Cajun Guitar techniques, remaining third will take the 2 aspects and combine them in a few songs to show how they work together.
Getting started, basic techniques, transitioning from other instruments, the Dobro’s place in string bands
Grandma’s Cheats for Old Time Fiddle
Tricia Spencer - Spencer and Rains
Tricia will teach her approach to old time fiddle built upon shortcuts her grandma, Iona Spencer, showed her when she was young. These are things every fiddler should know but maybe haven’t picked up along the way. This chord-based approach teaches seconding first, and then how to find old time tunes in the chord shapes. Tricia and Howard will also present a few of their favorite tunes. All levels.
Do you love dancing? Come learn how to clog! Clogging is a percussive dance form with origins in the folk dances of the British Isles, Africa, and America. I’ll begin by helping you to get a feel for a fiddle tune, along with a quick breakdown of the typical fiddle tune structure. Then we’ll jump right into the basics. With the basics you can dance to any fiddle tune, but we will have time to add some more visually and rhythmically fun steps to the mix as well.
Song Arrangement and Bluegrass Jam
Bring your instrument and learn how to creatively arrange songs from start to finish. In this session, The Hillsiders will discuss general themes to arranging music, the importance of backup, the role of each bluegrass instrument and how to tastefully contribute to any jam, gig or performance. The session will end with applying these song arrangement principles in a bluegrass style jam. All levels welcome.
The "C" Trick - or Tall Tales, Fiddle History, and Personal Style
Christy Palumbo and Dan Foster - Christy and the Plowboys
There's no one right way to play a fiddle tune. But there might be some wrong ones. You can spend a whole lifetime puzzling that out. How should your version sound? This will be a workshop about listening across time and between the cracks, soaking up stories, and finding new life in old sounds to add to your bag of tricks. After all, behind every lick there's a story.
Learn Fun & Simple Tunes from the Shetland Isles!
Mira Dickey and Sarah Lynn - NorthFolk
Halfway between Norway and Scotland, you will find a cluster of islands with a fiddle tradition of their own. Mira (Norwegian Fiddle) and Sarah (Scottish Fiddle) meet halfway between their chosen traditions and teach tunes from the Shetland Islands! These tunes are quite simple, but also very lively and fun to play. Any instrument is welcome to join; tunes will be taught by ear but we will have sheet music available as well.
Sophia Johnson, Katy Rose Cox, and Georgia Parker will host the workshop and talk about the tradition of western swing, instrumental harmonies, gender, and then answer questions and let the topic roll wherever it wants to.
Conjunto Accordio & Bajo Sexto
Master accordionist Felipe Perez and friends will lead a workshop on Conjunto Accordion and Bajo Sexto.
In addition to all the friendly jam circles that'll surely be happening around the camp at all hours, we'll have a few hosted jams on Saturday:
11:00AM Cajun jam with Michael Perron, Matt Rogers and more (during the Cajun Fiddle and Guitar Workshop)
12:00PM Bluegrass jam with The Hillsiders (during the Song Arrangement and Bluegrass Jam workshop)
2:30PM: Old Time Jam with Mark Lewis and Taylor Luttrell
3:30PM: Bluegrass Jam with Tom Duplissey and friends
On Sunday at 10AM, Sharon Sandomirsky and Georgia Canfield will lead a hosted gospel sing-along in the pavilion.
The Austin String Band Festival is family-friendly and will have free activities for children on Saturday.
12:30PM-2:30PM: Face Painting by Emily of Central Texas Face Painting
2:00PM - 5:00PM: Jugglers from the Texas Juggling Society to watch and teach
3:30PM: Kids' Crafts Workshop with Natasha
Volunteers for PRIME slots will get a full weekend pass. There are limited numbers of prime slots so grab one quickly if you can! Prime slots evening shifts (shifts ending at 8pm or later) that are marked with the word "PRIME" on our sign-up page. Work one Prime slot and get a weekend pass. Camping is extra.
Volunteers for regular slots will get a day pass for a day of their choosing. That is, if you volunteer on Friday, you can use your free day pass on Saturday (but you'll need to pay for Friday if you stay longer than your volunteer time slot -- we appreciate your help keeping the festival affordable for all!). You can volunteer for two regular slots to get passes for both days. Camping is extra.
Email email@example.com with any questions.
There is plenty of primitive tent camping, and a small number of RV sites with hookups. All camping fees are to be paid upon festival entry, on a first-come-first-served basis. You may pay with cash, check or credit card.
Friday and Saturday camping should be paid at the festival admissions tent. You may arrive earlier than Friday to camp. If you do, please pay Camp Ben directly for the nights before Friday.
Check-out is Noon on Sunday.
Tent site: $20 per night
RV site: $30 per night
Trash & Recycling
Pack-it-in, Pack-it-out. Campers who have recycling at their residence are encouraged to take recyclables home with them; a bag will be furnished for use on site or to take trash home. This helps us greatly - Thanks!
No dogs or other pets
We love dogs, but please leave them at home.
NO DOGS ALLOWED except service animals.
No amplified music
Out of courtesy to fellow campers, jammers, and official performers, please no amplified music in the campground.
Linda (Texas Street Crepes) will bring her food trailer and serve crepes, omelettes and croissants in the morning and an extensive menu of sweet and savory crepes throughout the day. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available.
Taylor's Treats will have a small selection of prepackaged snacks and sweets for purchase during the day on Saturday.
Festivalgoers can also bring their own food and beverages (no glass, please). There's ample space and tables to picnic, and campers can of course cook at their campsites.
Camp Ben McCulloch
18301 FM 1826
Driftwood, Texas 78619
Google Maps Link
Camp Ben McCulloch is within a few minutes of Austin, located 11 miles south of Highway 290 West on Farm Road 1826. From I-35, take Loop 4 to downtown Buda. Head west on Farm Road 967 for 11 miles, then turn left on Farm Road 1826 for 1/2 mile -- Camp Ben McCulloch is on the left.
Camp Ben McCulloch’s grounds are lovely, with plenty of big old shade trees, a gurgling creek and room for camping and jamming. Some of the best music is off-stage in sessions lasting till the wee hours. There is also a very nice, shady playground close to the pavilion.
Lettered spots are approximate workshop areas, subject to change depending on conditions at the grounds.
Teodar Jackson (1903-1966) was an old-time fiddler with deep roots in Texas. He was born in Gonzales County where his family had farmed since his grandfather emigrated from Mississippi sometime after 1850. African Americans numbered roughly a third of the county's population in the 1880s. Communities like Wesley Chapel, Monthalia and Canoe Creek were small rural sanctuaries where many musicians came of age to the sound of old-time fiddling at dances and country suppers. By the 1940s the family had moved north to the Austin area, settling in the St. John's community where Mr. Jackson remained a fiddler for many years eventually becoming known among young white music enthusiasts in the 1960s as ‘T-olee’, but always known to family as ‘Papa-T’. Familiar square-dance tunes, blues and rags made up a large part of his repertoire, but in addition he played a number of set-pieces, dance tunes that hint at something perhaps much, much older, otherwise lost to our ears, until his playing was recorded by Tary Owens in Austin, 1965.
Coming out of retirement in 1965, Mr. Jackson was embraced by the young crowd at the heart of the nascent Austin music scene in the mid-1960s. Like his friend the Navasota songster Mance Lipscomb, he was idolized, playing for many rapt, if largely white, audiences in venues like the Id Coffee House and The Eleventh Door. He and his son, TJ, were featured at the 1965 KHFI-FM Summer Music Festival in Zilker Park. According to Jim Langdon's Nightbeat column in Austin American Statesman in 1966, Mr. Jackson was expected to be featured in the upcoming Newport Folk Festival up in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, a heart attack would intervene and send him off for a stay in the hospital instead. But for that lamentable setback, Teodar Jackson might now be as well-known and remembered among folk music fans today as Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, or Bukka White
Mr. Jackson's condition began to worsen and on March 12, 1966 the community came together for a benefit concert. The event was well publicized and reportedly a resounding success featuring Janis Joplin, John Clay, the 13th Floor Elevators, Bill Neeley, Kenneth Threadgill, Powell St John and others. Unfortunately his condition failed to improve and Teodar Jackson passed away on May 2nd 1966. Mr. Jackson is buried next to his wife, Ora Lee Jackson, in the historic Burditt Prairie Cemetery just south of the Colorado River in Austin, Texas.
You can listen to and purchase the Field Recorders' Collective album of Teodar and T.J. Jackson's music on Bandcamp (Old Time Herald review) and read more at https://fieldrecorder.org/teodar-jackson-texas-fiddler/.
A Few Reminders
The string band festival is a family friendly event. If you are planning to come to the festival please note the following:
- NO DOGS ALLOWED (except service dogs).
- BRING YOUR OWN CHAIR FOR THE WORKSHOPS, FOR JAMMING, OR FOR EXTRA COMFORT.
- BRING YOUR OWN COOLER AND ICE.
- NO GLASS BOTTLES. CANS ONLY.
- NO FIRES - THERE'S A BURN BAN IN HAYS COUNTY
- NO FIREWORKS OR WEAPONS.
- NO AMPLIFIED MUSIC.
- BRING CASH AND CREDIT CARDS FOR TICKETS, CAMPING FEES, FOOD, and MERCH.
- PACK-IN & PACK-OUT AS MUCH OF YOUR TRASH AS POSSIBLE
Thanks to our generous sponsors for helping keep the Austin String Band Festival affordable and fun! We really appreciate it!
Your membership to AFTM helps us put on events like the Austin String Band Festival, as well as to offer scholarships for traditional music instruction. Memberships are only $15-$25 per year but they help us greatly!