Red River Songwriters’ Festival: Warm Love in the Cold, Cold Mountains

The Rockies tower above the tiny burg of Red River, New Mexico, a destination mostly for West Texans looking for cold air and alpine beauty. Last weekend the reverent stillness of the winter high country was broken by the righteous and ringing voices of Drew Kennedy and company. Austin Songwriter was lucky enough to attend.

In the last six years Kennedy has assembled a crew of able Austin regulars, including Walt Wilkins, Susan Gibson, Kelley Mickwee, Josh Grider and Brandy Zdan, and you’d swear they were having as much fun as the committed and supportive fans who dependably make the annual pilgrimage. Michael Hearne, Mike Addington and the legendary Bill Hearne served as local hosts, and you could tell the New Mexicans from the Texans only by the cut of their cowboy hats. Special guests included Slaid CleavesJamie Lin Wilson and John Fulbright.

Among many high points, including the solo performance of headliner Fullbright that will be discussed in another post, was the Saturday night free-for-all song swap fueled by Gibson’s gospel-tinged talent and presence. The ladies’ country version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was pure joy.

Cold mountains, warm love. Thanks to Drew and the gang, and we’ll see you next year!