Photos by Donna Marie Miller
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis sang nostalgically from their combined hit song catalogs at what seemed more like a backyard neighborhood barbecue than a music festival on April 18. Rainstorms abated in the early afternoon during the Old Settlers’ Music Festival in Driftwood on a grassy hillside in front of the Bluebonnet Stage, as festival goers sipped locally brewed beer and ate barbecue prepared by the famous Salt Lick restaurant.
The couple’s harmonies on “This Will Be Our Year,” were just like the sunshine, briefly removing a lingering misty chill in the air. The crowd was politely hushed, leaving an eerie silence that was broken only by birds calling from nearby 100-year-old oak trees when Robison sang his 1996 original song, “Travelin’ Soldier.” The tragic teenage romance tale topped charts in 2003 when the Dixie Chicks released it as a single off their Home album. Willis seduced the crowd further by singing Robison’s “Not Forgotten You,” off her 1999 album What I Deserve.
Their Cactus Cowboys band included Geoff Queen on pedal steel and electric guitar, John “Lunchmeat” Ludwick on upright bass and Joey Shuffield on drums. The Robison-Willis married duo, together with their musicians, gave a memorable performance in an outdoor space where time seemed to slowly drift by like the breeze.
– Donna Marie Miller