I just had the privilege of producing a small festival here in Texas.  I use the word "producing" lightly.  I really just helped gather great folks for a 4 day party.  Sure it took time, preparation, love and energy, but it was so very worth it.  I like to use producer because it might look good on a resume one day.   I also like to use the word producer because it kind of gives me an excuse for not writing for 3 months.  "Oh I was so so tired from producing, that I just could not type out just one tiny blog."  Then I heard about my friend Jen who is a Physician's Assistant, a mother, a wife and a marathon runner, who would get up at 4:30am to get her miles in before the family woke up.  Yup.  So anyway..I was sooo tired from producing...

We host about 60 friends for an annual Walt's Across Texas Festival. (WATX)  Last year we decided to skip a year because the namesake for the festival was worn flat out from an eventful year.  So we picked it up where we left off, 2 years ago.

The whole idea was started by a former fellow band mate, John Greenberg.  John did an absolutely fabulous job putting this whole thing together.  His idea was to take about 50 friends plus musicians,  on a tour bus to the West Texas for a few days.  We would eat great food, listen/play soulful music and explore the part of Texas that is vast and full of artistic beauty.  His planning was impeccable.  We rode seamlessly on one tour bus.  We played games, passed around tequila and got to know our new fan/friends.  We arrived at beautiful hotels, sang our songs and stayed out too late.  It was a wonderful experience.  He was the producer for 2 years and then left the band to persue other life's goals.

After John left,  we pieced together a gathering in Port Aransas, sans the bus.  That too was great fun, as we didn't have to drag our suitcases to a different hotel every night.  We convinced…well we begged,  our friend Rich Courville to come and cook for us for the 4 days.  He saved our hineys with his amazing food and kind spirit.  Our people were flexible and in for the new adventure.  Here we discovered the fine art of dancing to very, very late night DJ sessions.  We also discovered that our friend and musician, Jimmy Davis could hold a crowd blissfully still, without even using a microphone.  He also introduced us to the Lighthouse man.

Year 4 Rich suggested we take the show to Crystal Beach.  It would be convenient for him & his co-workers.  He also said there was a big white house where we all could gather each day for meals and activities.  Crystal Beach was coming back to life after being devastated by Hurricane Ike, several years prior.  New houses were being built and the island community was kind and eager to host our little festival.   Our friend and co-producer Melinda Ann and I scouted the location and found 12 houses for our guests to share and rent for the weekend.  We were pretty nervous pulling it altogether, but after things started rolling, we were sure that everyone would be happy and have a great time.  The weather was beautiful and again, it was a great adventure.  It was a big ol' leap of faith, knowing that the idea of sharing a house with someone you do not know could really be a disaster.  Fortunately the houses were new, big and beautiful!   We hired (bribed) our friend JoAnne Box to decorate the big white house and the stages we created for the performers.   We scoured Pinterest for lighting ideas and beach games.  We asked several companies to sponsor the festival by donating goods.  Arriba! Salsa jumped right in and claimed the Title Sponsor..and brought great gifts to our first Crystal Beach WATX.  Julie Sckittone contributed her talents as the graphic designer.  Mike Horn rocked the sound.  Everyone in the band (and their partners) pitched in to help set up, clean up and perform.  So many magical things happened in Crystal Beach.  Big Rich came through again.  He and his staff, including his lovely bride and children, fed all of us to the point of beachballness.

This year we added a few more houses and about 20 more people.  We did not have to advertise.  We did not put but one note on social media.  As soon as our returning friends heard that we were thinking of having WATX 5 in Crystal Beach, we had 99 percent of the folks saying they would love to celebrate with us again.  We added a few more girlfriends and children this year, thus adding to the growing Mystiquero family.  We ran out of sleeping space in the big white house (which housed the musicians and their partners).  The rental houses sold out quickly.  Big Rich was our lead chef.  JoAnne was on decor-duty.   Julie on graphic design.  Mike on sound.   Arriba! came through again.  We added a few more sponsorship opportunities.  We were all ready for a great festival…until the damn polar vortex.   Now  37-40  degree rainy days are nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters are  experiencing up in NY state.  But it is a bit of a challenge when one planned the festival to reach out to the lawn, the beach and beyond for fun and frolic.  So instead, we all got to know each other real well..inside the the living room of the big white house.  We shared meals and listened to music inside the house.  We would run out on the porch for our adult beverages, but get quickly inside for warmth.  It was not my plan.  I (as producer) was a bit freaked out.  Everyone informed me that this would be great for people to meet each other and find new friends.  They were right.  It happened.  People talked.  Enjoyed each other's company and celebrated life like Little House on the Beach…with tequila.

Magical things happen when you trust each other.  Music heals.  Meals heal.  Friends heal each other.  Beauty surrounds when one opens one's heart to new adventures.

We want to keep this festival small.  If I can talk Walt into it, we might create a bigger festival to include ALL of our friends.  This one needs to stay as it is.  Mostly because we cannot fit anyone else in the big white house.  Truthfully, we want to keep it intimate and special, so we can spend time with our guests.   Maybe we will add WAMexico or WATheNetherlands.  Maybe we will include train travel.  Or horseback.  Ok, not horseback.  Maybe WAMaui.  WAanyvineyardformama.  

It is a lot of work with great rewards.  All because this guy at 14 wanted to play guitar.  Thanks love.  Thanks for letting us in on your dream.  Thanks Mystiqueros.  Thanks for freeing up a weekend to hang out, let me boss you around and then still play beautiful music.  Thanks to our treasured guests who trusted us with a weekend to bring music to the beach and to their soul.  Thank you to Robbyn Dodd who captured the events on film and made others really mad at us for not inviting them.  She really makes us look cooler than we are.  Except of course, when we were actually cold from the wind chill of 20.  Then we were legitimately cool.   Robbyn is a good team member.  As producer, I will recommend her to Rolling Stone when they come begging to come to our little festival.

So as your producer of small yet perhaps meaningful events, I am currently looking for the next adventure.  My dad's got a barn…

oh and yes, you're invited.

November 20, 2014  10:21 pm

Finally recovered.

Thanks to:  Arriba!  Salsa.  Courville's Catering. The Stingaree Restaurant.  Swede's Real Estate.  Dyad Petroleum Company.  Red Dirt Energy Services.  Dulce Vida Tequila.  Gulf Coast Market (the big store)  Deep Eddy Vodka.  Billy Johnson State Farm.  The Broussard Family.  Robbyn Dodd Photography.  JoAnne Box of Fun Design.  Carly Andrews.  Stephan Oubre.  JuJu Maker.  Tiki Loko. Tommy Alverson.  Kevin Galloway.  Davis Raines & The MQ family.


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