RED RIVER, N.M. — Snowfall and full moon — what a great way to end a great weekend packed with talent and friendships.
It was the second Red River Songwriters Festival that ended on just such a high note last Saturday. For two days, Drew Kennedy, Josh Grider, Mike Addington, Susan Gibson, Brandy Zdan, and Kelley Mickwee held fans’ full attention with their songwriting and performance talents, then on Saturday Walt Wilkins joined the mix. For this last day, Ray Wylie Hubbard — songwriting royalty — ended it all with a dazzling performance, and with those other seven helping him with background harmonies and instrumentation.
Hubbard talked about his recent showcasing on the David Letterman show, explaining after finishing “Mother Blues” that if anyone had watched it on television, they would know that he cut two verses out of that televised song. But, Ray Wylie said, there was a real time factor on the Letterman Show. The time factor wasn’t so stringent at the festival, and Hubbard left nothing out. Nothing at all, and the crowd went back out into the snow content with the evening’s complete concert content.
The festival started Thursday with song-swaps among the first six in attendance. Then, Wilkins joined the cast on Friday, song-swapping that evening, and going solo early Saturday morning for Bloody Mary breakfast and music. Friday and Saturday, the artists took their music on the road, a short road trip to two of the area ski lifts. This landed more fans, people there for the skiing, but who came into the festival in the evenings.
Steve Heglund, owner of The Lodge, which was the festival base, and The Motherlode, next door, sat in awe of the way it all came together, soaking the music into his soul. Heglund said that attendance in this 2nd-ever festival more than quadrupled since the 2012 fest. This festival featured mostly Texas songwriters, even though it is in New Mexico. Addington and his band are Red River locals; but, Heglund said, other local musicians, including Michael Hearne and his uncle, Bill Hearne, are featured in another event in August. Grider is now working and living in Nashville, and Zdan is from Canada, and now living in Texas.
The songwriters festival is tentatively scheduled for the last full weekend in January (23-25) 2014, and will again be headquartered at The Lodge @ Red River, with concerts around the ski-based town and again at the famous Motherlode Saloon. Sorry, folks, already looked it up, and that’s not full-moon weekend, but probably won’t make any difference in the talent and good times.