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The Kerrville Folk Festival – Tuesday Night at Threadgill’s Theater

by Ben Taylor

The Kerrville Folk Festival Tuesday night featured an acoustic lineup of female singers and songwriters including Susan Gibson, Elizabeth Wills, Rebecca Loebe, and Paula Nelson. Each artist took a turn singing their songs in a ‘round robin’ format in the covered but ‘open air’ venue of The Threadgill Theater.

Susan Gibson, CMA award-winning songwriter of “Wide Open Spaces”, interjected her dry wit—but very funny sense of humor into her performance, playing songs about her life’s experiences. One particularly memorable song was about herself as a young girl trying so hard, but in vain to measure up to the President’s physical fitness standards. Sorry, but I didn’t catch the name of the song. She did sing a song about a Gibson guitar salvaged from a fire called, Wood Wouldn’t Burn.

Susan’s website:

Performing second in the rotation was Elizabeth Wills, an accomplished singer/songwriter whose songs have been described as “confessional, with an angelic and viscerally intoxicating voice”. She has been named Female Vocalist of the year by the Ft. Worth Star Telegram and has been a Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition Finalist. Her powerful vocals and insightful songwriting were as refreshing as the cool Kerrville night.

Elizabeth ’s website

Rebecca Loebe from Atlanta, Georgia was the baby of the group, looking the part with a mass of beautiful black hair, an impish grin and mischievous eyes. Rebecca impressed an appreciative Kerrville audience on Tuesday night with her amazing range of voice, just as she did last year on NBC’s hit show ‘The Voice’ where Christina Aguilera told her, “I’d love to work with you, I think you have a really special gift.” Her double entendre writing style usually had an interesting twist at the end of the songs and after the first couple you started listening expectantly for where she was going to end up. My favorite this night was “Swallowed By The Sea”.

Rebecca’s website:

Paula Nelson is simply one of my favorite singer/songwriters on the Texas music or on any music scene for that matter. She has a unique and distinctive voice that is rooted in the blues no matter what she sings and it works whether the song is a hard driving song like “Baby You’re Mean”, to a more traditional country like “Drink” or her contemplative “Be That As It May”.

Paula’s website: www.

Paula is every bit the consummate natural professional musician/singer/songwriter, having grown up onstage. I don’t mean to date her here, but the first time I remember seeing her was backstage at a concert with her dad Willie and Waylon Jennings in the 70s. I don’t even remember the year, but was either at the Texas Opry House or The Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin or maybe at a 4 th of July Picnic. Paula was a toddler and I was just a college kid myself at that time, but had friends (Candy Kicker for one) who were DJs at the old KOKE-FM and KVET in Austin. For me, watching Paula brings back memories of a very enjoyable time in my youth when as a kid in my late teens and early twenties I got to stand in the wings onstage with some of the legends of country music like Waylon, Willie, Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Haggard, Charlie Daniels, and on and on.

Paula was accompanied by her band’s lead guitar player, Landis Armstrong. Even though this night was the ladies night to shine, Landis quietly added some spice to the show with his hot licks and fast cords. In fact, he was interrupted several times with spontaneous applause. …Not meaning to get off track from the ‘ladies night’, but if you have not heard Landis play guitar (electric or acoustic), he is simply one of the best guitar players in Austin, or Texas for that matter …and I might even broaden that if put on the spot.

Dalis Allen, the Director of the Kerrville Folk Festival, was a great host as usual and scheduled a very nice show for the laid back, but enthusiastic audience. Just a short note on the low key and unassuming Dalis; as I have observed this event from year to year here at Kerrville, it is obvious that she is the golden thread that holds the fabric of this festival together. It is also obvious how much she is loved and respected by the performers who pass through these wooded hills of Quite Valley Ranch.

This next weekend is the last of this year’s Kerrville Folk Festival and has a full lineup featuring The Flyin A’s on Friday, Sara Hickman on Saturday, and Albert & Gage on Sunday night. For information and directions, go to

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