Monday, October 29, 2012 , Updated 9:43 a.m., November 1, 2012
Wildernest Treehouse MusicFest braves near-freezing weather
The cold was bone chilling but the three roaring camp-fires saved the night.
WINNSBORO It was a beautiful day for a drive through the Piney Woods when I left Longview Saturday. There were clear blue skies overhead with temperature in the mid-sixties.
I was headed for the Wildernest Treehouse MusicFest at a rural location between Winnsboro and Quitman, with a stop-over at the Wine in the Pines event in Mount Vernon. I knew that the temperature was expected to fall into the mid-30s overnight, so I made some preparations to spend a few hours under the starry sky, in the cold. Little did I know!
I arrived a little after 5, after a drive over a few Wood County roads, up a short dirt driveway to the parking area, and a short walk to the venue. There I found three campfires, a bunch of bundled up music fans, and the trio of Gus Gustafson, Amy Spence and Alex Reyes on stage warming up the crowd.
Gus, Amy and Alex were followed, in order, by Randy Brown and Mills Bryant, Shannon Monk and Kurt Bittner, and Venessa Peters. The scheduled performances were capped off by Adler & Hearne. An unexpected treat was provided by twenty-three year old Kate Hearne, who who backed with guitar and mandolin, and also treated us to a solo vocal number.
The performances were outstanding, with lots of original material offered by this group of very talented performers. And the venue: it is beautiful. I hope the photos that I shot do it justice.
Oh, and the cold? Bone chilling! It was 41 degrees when got to my car a little after 10 p.m. Luckily, the three roaring fires saved the night, as both fans and performers were able to spend time toasting themselves.
Adler & Hearne - In concert, Adler & Hearne’s songs are a spirited blend of original, folk-jazz blues-grass. She (Adler) sings and plays rhythm guitar. He (Hearne) sings and plays guitar, mandolin and harmonica. Their live sets range from crooning songs of love and longing, losing and finding – to covering touchy subjects with unexpected musical overtones – to camping it up with modern-day spirituals steeped in dry wit. They have won numerous awards and were featured performers at the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival.
Vanessa Peters - Since 2002, Vanessa Peters has played over 1000 shows in eleven countries. She's now returned to her home state of Texas and we are really happy to have her here on the Wildernest stage. She has just released her first solo album in three years "The Burn The Truth The Lies" Recorded at the legendary Texas Treefort Studios in Austin the album features accompanying performances by a trio of terrific Texas musicians The Dallas Observer has described Vanessa as "The best kind of singer songwriter"
Gus Gustafson & Friends - When Gus isn't working to bring quality musical talent to Crossroads Music in Winnsboro, he's nurturing new musicians. He's equally at home in front of the microphone or behind it. A musician's musician, he's the face of music in the area. His first love in music is the blues and his guitar and harmonica can often be heard around town keeping LIVE MUSIC ALIVE in East Texas. Gus is the producer of the MusicFest.
Randy Brown - is an award winning singer/songwriter living in East Texas and has been involved with many sides of the music business over the years, from being a sideman, a sound man, touring songwriter, operating a venue, and a recording studio owner/engineer. He dreams big and lives large but when it comes to taking a long deep swig, he likes to take a tiny sip first before committing. You never know when stuff will go bad and in his opinion there is nothing worse than spitting in public.
Shannon Monk with Kurt Bittner - Shannon has a background in professional theatre, having worked in Dallas and Austin. Revel in the smooth sound of Shannon's voice. Expect tempos and progressions to jog your mind back to a different era of American music.
Kurt Bittner is a guitarist, songwriter, and audio engineer. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. As a guitar major, Kurt graduated cum laude from Berklee and has toured extensively throughout the United States and internationally.