For the past 19 years, musician and entertainer Al Barlow, along with Gareth Angleton, has hosted The Terlingua Music Bash, affectionately known as the Al Barlow Fest, in Terlingua, Texas. Folk musicians from around the country come together for this 4-day exchange of songs and stories.
Rusty Center, a longtime festival attendee, says “Al will have the whole room smiling within five minutes of hitting the stage.” It is this magnetic effect that has kept the festival vibrant and growing year over year.
Local groups such as Rockytop Alien Breeding Experiment, The Whitmores and The Vortexans share the stage with out of town musicians including The Lavens, The Whipples, and Butch Morgan, among others. After performances at several local venues including The Starlight Theatre, High Sierra Bar & Grill, La Kiva, and Long Draw Pizza, people gather around campfires at Garth Park. The Park is privately owned land across from the Ghost Town and has become the unofficial center of the event. Most musicians and attendees have been coming to the Fest for years, weaving a tapestry of creative collaborations and friendship. Local residents, Marti and Alex Whitmore, host a house concert during the festival and Marti says the festival is “becoming a family reunion.”
The magic continues through the weekend with Michael O’Connor, a well-known singer-songwriter from Brenham, Texas, performing Saturday night at La Kiva, The VorTexans playing at The Starlight Theatre as well as impromptu song circles at Garth Park, “The Porch” outside the Terlingua Trading Company, and the deck at High Sierra Bar & Grill. The event culminates in a gospel brunch on Sunday at the Easter Egg Motel where all are welcome.
For more information and a schedule of events go to www.terlinguamusic.com
Jessica Lutz is a citizen reporter for KRTS, Marfa Public Radio and has residences in both Marfa and Terlingua.
All photos by Jessica Lutz except as noted.