First annual Under the Mesquite Festival took place this past weekend, September 22-23, in Coleman, Texas. Created and ran by the Martin Family (Greg, Shauna, Ryan and Samantha) and friends, this festival is for the listeners and genuine music lovers alike.
The lineup included Natalie Price, Race Ricketts, Nick Brumley, Presley Haile, Jackson Hatch and the Eastlake Band, Matt Hartman, Brett Hendricks, Buck Fuffalo, Shea Abshier, and Prophets and Outlaws.
Upon arrival, the festival didn't look like your average funnel cake and beer stand circus extravaganza. The immediate dance floor in front of the stage was neatly covered in round tables with customized 45 rpm vinyl nameplates (with real albums on it!) for the VIP seating. Pickin' Petals was gifted with our own media vinyl meticulously chosen with Toto's "You are the Flower." The small details did not go unnoticed. Although the physical separation between VIP and GA was minimal, the cost of table seating, dinner, and custom amenities made the low price VIP immediately worth it.
The most important fixture of this festival was the overall vibe created. The tables are set next to the stage specifically to provide a listening room feel. VIP bought seated tickets to listen to the artists, to really hear and enjoy what these singer/songwriters had to say. Greg Martin, against friend Larry Joe Taylor's explicit advice to not "lose the crowd," announced on stage between sets "if you want to chit chat and talk, there's plenty of room in the back to dance and hang out-- but this is a listening room feel up here."
As a singer/songwriter lover, I personally appreciated the sentiment. Here is the first festival I feel that is truly accommodating to the listening room feel while also providing the necessary room for two-stepping, laughing around, and visiting. Between acts was a 15 minute window where patrons could buy artist and festival merchandise so that it didn't interrupt the flow of music or attention from artists.
Another VIP offering was Beyond the Melody, a special VIP and Sponsor dinner with a panel of performers. Artists Natalie Price, Buck Fuffalo, Brett Hendrix, Prophets & Outlaws Matt Boggs and Johnny Cooper, and Jackson Hatch spoke directly to the audience on life, touring, songwriting, inspiration, and more. This intimate setting allows for patrons to get to know the artists and grow personal relationships with each.
On the menu for this festival was Chipster's BBQ food truck who offered anything from turkey legs to BBQ parfaits (a real win if you ask me). Throughout the festival, there was nothing short of pork skewers and BBQ sauce slathered leg photo ops and pretend meat sword wielding. Festival artist Race Ricketts song "Texas BBQ" was basically the menu for this fun and friendly food service.
As expected from a first year festival, some kinks and additional services have to be ironed out for the years to come-- but overall, it is obvious the love the Martin family has for true songwriters and excellent performers and have the means to uplift these acts. The inaugural turn out was great, lineup was full of chart topping artists, and festival staff ran smoothly and efficiently. We are grateful to have experienced this festival in its infancy and are excited to see what grand things are yet to come!