Fort Worth Over the last five years, the number of single- and multi-day music festivals has multiplied like mad in North Texas. Practically every month of the year, it seems, has some kind of festival, and one of the newest, the Stockyards Music Festival, made its bow Sunday.
Situated in the "North Forty" directly behind Billy Bob's Texas, the day-long event featured a mix of acts (many of whom have graced the Billy Bob's stage previously) spread across two stages. It's the second big music event in the Stockyards in as many months, coming after Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic. Headlined by Hank Williams Jr., and showcasing up-and-comers (Turnpike Troubadours, Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights) alongside more established acts (Pat Green, Shooter Jennings, David Allan Coe), the event brought an estimated crowd of 7,500 to the hot, dusty swath of land behind Fort Worth's legendary honky-tonk.
The stages moved like clockwork, with a north and south stage set up to start music as soon as the other ended. It made for a seamless evening of sound, augmented by a battery of eight food trucks (everything from Cajun to Italian to Mexican and more), a handful of beer stands, and a VIP skybox plopped right in between the pair of stages.
The overall vibe was an easygoing one, with the crowd moving smoothly between the two stages and loudly cheering for hometown heroes like Green (whose cover of Tom Petty's You Wreck Me was shockingly vibrant) and living legends like Merle Haggard, who got 'em yelling with a flurry of classics, including Okie from Muskogee and Mama Tried. Williams, no stranger to controversial comments, offered up a few partisan barbs about gays and President Barack Obama during his robust set, which didn't exactly alienate the audience.
North Texas has not had its fill of festivals, it would seem, and the Stockyards Music Festival is a welcome addition to an already-cram-packed concert calendar. Will this locally-conceived shindig supplant Willie's Picnic? We'll have to wait until next year to see.