KerrHistory Home History: Year by Year KerrCamps Kerr Memorial Page Oral History MP3s Site Map
This is compiled from a Facebook thread in “Kerrverts Far & Wide” that started when Kate Prejean posted:
“So I have been wondering lately about how we all got to the ranch. How did y'all end up finding this spot we call home”
Robert W. Wilson:
“Nancy lee and Rod.
I was attending Richland College in Dallas in 1980, Rod use to do these Kerrville On the Road shows and they came to campus one evening. There was the late great Bob Gibson. the late great John Vandiver. Riders in the Sky and maybe Fromholz and of course Rod, they were promoting the Festival. I had to go, so come Memorial week-end we rolled up Friday evening, camped on the back fence line, the next year we moved to Austin just to be closer to the Ranch, did the whole thing, 9 days and the rest is history”
“My mom's boyfriend was working for Lee Green. Lee invited us out, plus work got cut short because of KFF was going on, so we went.”
“Some friends found out about it somehow, so naturally, we went to check it out.”
“I had wanted to go to KFF for years. In '87, there was rain for almost the whole festival and they lost so much money that it looked like '88 might be the last one. My dad offered to keep my kids so that I could go. I went the first weekend. It rained and stormed but I was hooked. I went back the next weekend and took the kids. Didn't miss a year until 2008.”
“Crazy Horse Coffee House, Angelo State University 1977-78... the performers were all booked at KFF and they all had praise for festival. Fortunately I was influenced enough to come (first time in 79) by Damron, Tom Russell, Doak Snead, Nancy Griffith, Mike Williams, etc. Haven't missed it since, though have never attended the whole event.”
“I was going to school in Nacogdoches and met some friends that had been going for a few years. They started telling us about it and I was hooked on just the thought of it. Music and community! We went that summer for the full 18 and it was all over from then on. We got married at fest in '04 and I have missed maybe 2 or 3 years out of the last 11 yrs.
I truly love that little piece of land and the people it gathers. It is one of the beauties for me to see old, young, conservative, liberal, differently abled, rich, poor, and the spectrum in between gathering to listen to music.”
Kathy Aaron Googins:
“I worked at the NB Herald with Dyanne Fry Cortez. She invited me.”
“Kelli J Moynihan brought me out to Chez Rebel where I met my camp papa, Skot Phrea and camp mama Jamie Green. But others, including Happy Jack and Luke Fletcher had been trying to get me to come out in '05. 2006 was my first Big Folk (If anyone remembers differently, you are right, too. This is just one version of how Jon Hogan came to Kerrville).
“i think it was 93, the year ani difranco played. my dad rented a cabin on the ranch next door, called me and said ‘there is weirdo festival down the road you might like why dont you come visit.’ i was a gate crasher those first few years...missed 1 year, it was terrible.”
“I came to the bluegrass festival first.”
“went to the first one in town, then the mule races, then the gospel fest, and the country music fest.”
Dorothy Burwick Hammond:
“Drove by the ranch and saw the sign in 1974 while on vacation...came back in ‘75 and was hooked from then on.”
Mary McAvenia Potter:
“Came with a friend in ‘76. Saw a flyer and came back in 1981. I was soon kerrverted and have missed only 1 ‘big folk’ since. Been to many of the other festivals. Loved Bluegrass and the Good Times Festival.”
“had heard about it for years (about 30 yrs ago) but just couldn’t get it together to actually go until i came out 17 yrs ago w/ who is now an ex BF. I completely fell in love w/ the fest, but not him (he was a camping wimp). He finally gave up the fest, about 5 yrs later when he finally realized how completely clueless he was at setting up a simple dome tent. I've been coming every year since. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“i worked at Whole Foods when they were sponsors so i was the only 15 YR OLD WITH A SPONSER BUTTON.”
“Came to the 2nd one in town with college friends. Wasn't my scene. In an auditorium in town!? Gael Montana talked me into coming back for the four day Festival of the Eagle. Been back every day since. First project was Rod's house. Moved to the ranch full time in 2001.”
“Chris and Jenni Wiggins had brought Ian and I out to a couple work weekends and staff retreats. I didn't make it out to fest until 2006 and stayed the whole 18...as everyone else, I got hooked and have been back every year since to help in providing healing services to the volunteers!”
“In 2007 I was supposed to come with my boyfriend to see our friend Noah Earle perform at New Folk the first weekend. He broke up with me a week and a half before the fest and said I should go by myself. I knew absolutely nothing about the festival but something deep inside told me I needed to be there. That is the best "voice" I have ever listened too! I went for the first weekend and stayed for 19 days! Not only was this the perfect place to heal a broken heart with all of the love and instant family I was surrounded with, but I also met the man I was truly meant to be with that year! We only met briefly in 2007, then in 2009 we met again and on May 4th of this year Ike Eickstaedt and I will be married! Thank you Kate for reminding me how special our home is! And thank you to all of the Kerrverts Far and Wide!!”
“Courtney Emerson's brother Dave Emerson brought me out in 2003 when we were dating.”
“I had wanted to come since I had heard about it in the 70's.....life go ton the way and I finally made it to the ranch in 2007? I brought Mary Jo out with her vending stuff , her fiends put my tarp out for us, and we camped for the first night in the hollows of Sudden Creek! And it rained, a lot, all night I was tending the tent and by morning had 4 inches of water rushin’ underneath my tent ! Rebel Camp came to the rescue, and was temporarily renamed Fema camp for that weekend..... I have been back every year ever since....mostly staying the whole time, but occasionally having to return to h-town for work...I love this family, and am very blessed to be able to be a part of it all...dove right in , vol'd and have been on backstage security ever since!!!!”
“I'm a Muller....somehow I just followed the family to the ranch”
“Amoreena Hunt (daughter to Mick and Graham) invited my family around 20 years ago and we haven’t missed since”
“Sold books and records for the Naylor Publishing Company and the Texas Playboys out of Booth #1 during the July 4th C&W Jamboree in 1976, the bicentennial. Crystal Gayle and Mel Tillis and several other big country stars and rising stars played. Met Ernest Tubb. Big American flag cake and patriotic weekend.
But that was actually my second visit --- my first time was one night of Big Folk that same year, 1976. Some college friends took my wife and I out there (here) for one night. Rusty Weir played. Was intrigued, not quite hooked. Came back with the publishing company.”
“I was on Main Stage with Joe and Tree Brunelle before there were the evening shows at Threadgiill. I've been in love ever since.”
“My mom brought my sister and me with her when we were kids, as weekenders, usually on whatever weekend shake and jack were playing, and until they stopped playing together. Then after a few years passed, I heard through an acquaintance that I should come back and work on staff, which I decided to do during my internship at massage school in 2002. Camped alone in the rain near camp stupid for a week that year, working at Cureville, and the following year was able to convince chris to join me. We haven't missed a year since.”
“Catherine Mullins brought me - it changed my life for the better! I KNEW I was home - and I have never, ever looked back - it was 1986 - I am a relative new-comer!”
“In 2001, My friend urged me to go citing that my crush would be there. so I went and fell in love with his best friend and the community and the festival! Haven't missed one since.”
“After arriving back home(Texas) from a long journey, the Ruta Family told me of a wonderful place. So I did a couple years recon and somebody gave me a cool car to drive and Bam, here I am”
“I went to Arlington to hang out with Mike and Wheatie for the weekend. As I arrived, they were leaving to ‘go to Kerrville.’ It was either hang out by myself, or get in the car.
“i hosted the college radio folk show, had Rod as a guest, was between jobs, had the time, so i went despite my aversion to camping, which i still cant stand. After the first one i started my biz and here i am”
“I saw a poster at the Split Rail about the festival in 1978 and saw that David Amram was playing, so I was determined to go in 1979”
“Jeff Hoofard, one of the founders of Camp Stoopid, had been showing us pictures and telling us stories for years. I felt like I had already been there. When my mother passed away in 2003, she left me enough money to buy a vehicle that would get me there and I haven't missed a year yet.”
“I was on Dead tour, and was going to swing through San Angelo to see my best friend, Danna. When I got there, I was told she was out at some folk festival with Gayle and Big Larry. I was given directions to the ranch, and was instructed to tell them I knew Emmette at the gate. I did not know Emmette at all at the time, but it worked. I met him the next day and he got me a job at the mixmaster. I was dead tired my first night there, and didn't even find my folks. I was told they were down by the teepees, so I threw down my sleeping carpet under an oak tree and fell asleep listening to the mingled strings of guitars playing near and far. I woke in the morning, and the guitars were still playing, and I could smell coffee. I ended up meeting Calamity, who taught me how to make cowboy coffee and told me where my folks were and what was up. By the time I found the McElwee clan, I was already as in love with the place as they were. People kept thinking they knew me from when I was a just a child, and I would correct them, but Crystal later explained it to me during my first Heal in the Wisdom. She said ‘It's because you've always been here.’ Still makes perfect sense to me.
“Bill Nash invited me to come camp with him, more than ten years ago now. ‘Camp Nashbill’ has continue to grow over the years, as we invite other folks, and enjoy our annual connections.”
“Carolyn Hester and her husband David invited me to Kerrville on the Road in Los Angeles to hear her play. The next time they came back I worked as a volunteer making the tickets, program, etc. Loved the music. Moved to Texas.”
David A. Gay:
“I wanted to hear Fromholz, Ray Wylie, and Murphy. I had just graduated from High School in San Antonio. The move to the Ranch was a great idea, and I have seen a lot of changes and made and lost many friends over the years. I've made it to 27 of the festivals over the years so I can't say I've been to them all. There's no festival like the KFF.”
Francie Meaux Jeaux:
“my new boyfriend got me down there”
“We at least partially 'credit' Allen Damron for me.”
“Allen Damron for me. I saw him at a club in Lubbock in 1972 and he told me to go to the Kerrville Folk Festival, I would love it and he was correct.”
“A friend took me, and within 30 minutes of being there I knew I had found my tribe. I'd never been around so many people I shared so much with.”
James B Jones:
“Big Earl Eubanks got me tickets.....wasn't there 30 minutes...felt like home.... 22 years ago...lol...seems like last summer.
“I was working in Houston and heard about it in 1972. I was invited to stay at a friend's mom's house in Kerrville. I kept comming back.
“My great grandparents first came out around '78. They loved Allen Damron. Then my grandparents kept it up, even got to hear Stan Rogers. Then my mom (who'd always had a thing for Fromholz) and step dad went out, got stuck in the muddy Meadow, and fell for Vance Gilbert and Caroline Aiken, respectively. Then I showed up, swam at Monkey Island, and fell for Adam and Kris. Oh yeah, and Kinky Friedman was great, until he got banned. All about the love and/or music. But we all know that.
Javier C. likes to joke about how my some day children will be 5th gen Kerrverts. My favorite t-shirt's this ratty old black one of my grandmother's from year 5 with stars on it that I have to hand-wash. Prized possessions, you understand.
“i was invited by a gent with 3 pals to record a free demo in west Austin after he approached us at a pickin’ party (when i lived in Austin 2006) the next morn he said he had a guest spot open for Kerrville. ‘Whats Kerrville?’ I asked... Cruised out the next day with him and there I was. Unfortunately, that gent passed away shortly thereafter, I believe from a heart attack as he went for his mail or something like that (That would have been Ronald Hugh Roberts, one of the beloved members of Camp Bungie, known by many as Ronzo the Clown). He was prob in his sixties, passed during Kerrville FOlk summer if 06..... Still have the recording and still ponder that whole sequence of events. Love you guys!!”
“I came to learn of Kerrville through my friends at Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse in Dallas and went to my first one in May of 1994 (I lived in Camp Coho with them my first couple of years). In about 1998 I started Camp NashBill in its contemporary place (near old Camp Nashville, which doesn't much exist anymore). Since 1994, I have missed 4 weekends of Kerrville (72 of the last 76 weekends) and the past 5 years or so have done 18 days in the spring and 3 days in the fall!”
Mike Michaelson Johnston:
“I was born, went to Kerrville before I can even remember, brought by my mom. I remember few details from that far back...I remember bare dirty feet, trompin' around the Ranch, camp Sesame Street (and a couple of others that no longer exist), Kerrtry Store, and those really cool looking people with their heads poked up above the big fence next to the stage. Wow, did they look like they were having a good time! I remember wanting to be where they were. It wasn't long after that my big sister, my mother, and myself when I was old enough...found ourselves on the KFF/GoodTimes/BlueGrass/Fest of the Eagle Staff. :-)”
“Well, I married diehard Kerrvert in 1990, Robert, that I met in New York City in 1988. He knew who BW Stevenson and Jerry Jeff were! We flew down in 1989 to see Nanci Griffith and Michelle Shocked. Nanci had throat problems and cancelled but we loved Michelle because she was a good friend of our neighbor, Ray Lewis, who was the treasurer of Fast Folk Mag at the time. We had a great time. Fire ants invaded our pop-up too. Unbeknownst to me, I was 5 weeks pregnant with Luna at the time. Now Alder, Brooks and Luna will always call the ranch their "Home." Thanks Kate for asking!”
“I got taken, sort of by accident by Kim Haley, Sweet Chuckaroo, and Korwyn Jensen, many moons ago.”
“My Dad went to the 1st one at the Municipal Auditorium in Kerrville. He also went to the 1st one on the ranch & tells stories of about 30 hippies showing up and sleeping in the Meadow. He woke up with an immense hangover to a strange really loud sound. It was a hot air balloon preparing to take off. He was a Garland boy who got a wild hair & went to Newfoundland, Ca where he met my Mom. In 1987 he moved us to Kerrville. The festival and the friends he met while there was the a huge reason why we picked Kerrville. I haven't missed one since, I met my soul mate there in 1992. We were engaged on Chapel Hill many years later & we were the 1st couple to be married under the new permaculture arbor on Chapel Hill in 2008. Our child was conceived there in 2009 and he hasn't missed one yet either. I have many time lived on the ranch during off season, helped Braids start the garden & cooked many meals for the hard working off season family. I have helped with most crews & also have had a massage booth for 10+ years. We are living in Philly right now & there is a possibility I won't make it for the 1st time in 25 years:( I can't even imagine that. Miracles happen though. I love my Festival Family!”
Dianne Preston Johnston:
“My mom was really into bluegrass and hauled me there from the ages of 12 -16 in the bed of our pickup (under a tarp and at night) the ten hours from El Paso. I just loved getting to stay up all night, with folks jammin', even though Rocky Top was heard one time too many. Slim Richey was my mom's friend and business partner. Missed 20 years - not knowing what I was missing - and the first time back I was ‘Welcomed Home,’ I immediately wept. I knew down deep that I would never miss it again, and have been grateful for every single moment on that sacred ground since! It was beyond a life's dream to be proposed to under Ballad Tree and then to wed a fellow life-Kerrvert Mike Michaelson Johnston (M&M) a year later on Chapel Hill in 2009. And yes, I request Rocky Top from anyone who may know it now - proudly!”
“I first got there in my 1053 Dodge pickup. In 1979.
That's 1953. It was old, but did not predate the Norman invasion.”
“George Hermes and Jay Byrd Johnson turned me onto Kerrville in 1977. We had a few cases of Pearl, sleeping bags, and our guitars of course. I didn't even have a change of clothes and wore my "uniform for 4 days"! Arrived in my 1976 Toyota pickup named Mudcat!
Cynthia Ricker Nerlinger:
Howie Richey :
A co-worker, surveyor Craig Crosby Cregar, brought me and my wife in 1979. We camped in the state park and commuted each evening in the back of a pickup truck. I haven’t missed a Big Folk since!"
joe carlson :
Allen Damron pulled into Fredericksburg, VA, on tour with his girlfriend in his dusty Cadillac. We ran a songwriter showcase in a small theatre above a guitar shop called Pickers Supply. 3 songwriters, but one cancelled that day and I haven’t played it in over a year so they asked me. I took Allen and his girlfriend out to lunch and hit it off, especially since we were both in recovering alcoholics. I still am. So we goofed around on stage and after the gig Allen starts telling me about this festival where all these singer-songwriters converge.
This was the twenty fifth anniversary year. I’m hooked and he invites me to his condo in Austin for a week before Kerrville. A girl in her early twenties was staying there, they were helping her out from an abusive relationship. Allen had a Big heart. So we drive to the ranch and Allen waves me over to the performers table and tells me to sign in. I am now FREAKING OUT thinking that I somehow gave him the impression that I got booked there. I whispered in his ear, 'Allen, I’m not a performer here'. He goes, 'Ya are now', and pins a performer badge on me. I did perform that year, got treated like gold, stayed the whole time, although the last five days were grueling a bit. So, that’s how I got there. The co-founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival. Pretty cool.
MariLisa Swain :
Well, in 1987 the first year I drove out following a caravan with some fellow San Martians. (What we San Marcos gypsies referred ourselves.) That year we slept in our cars in the parking lot for 2 nights and I’m pretty sure it was allowed at that time. We paid full price for 2 nights and I have no idea why we didn’t camp in the normal camp sites . There were after hours music circles all night long in that parking lot and I don’t recall going around to any camp fires in the regular camp grounds though there were plenty in the parking lot. The next weekend I went back with another friend and band mate and we camped where Camp no way out is. It rained the whole night really hard and I remember getting lost for a while in the mud and not being able to find my camp. The rain did not start though till after the theater concerts were done where we were dancing up a storm 'literally'. On the way home, he said that I should always make Kerrville folk fest a priority and keep going year after year and I am so glad I took that advice.
Michael Rubin :
When I was 23 I moved to Austin for music. When I told my California girlfriend I was leaving her for Texas, she said she had played main stage and I should go to the Festival. I didn’t for 10 years. I ran into Dan Harrington, aka Foscoe Jones and we started a musical partnership immediately. He got me to the Fest for the first weekend. I loved it so much I came to the second weekend and was so excited to get there I left straight after a gig and left my harmonicas at the gig. Greg Klyma lent me his harps to play that night. The next day I drove to Austin, picked up the harps and drove right back to Kerrville.
John Stetson :
"I was working for my first computer company in Champaign, IL in the early 80’s when a friend and co-worker (Karen Johnson Willey Johnson) told me about the Fest. She was a Texan and when she had a chance to move to Austin a little later she jumped at it.
My co. moved to Austin in the summer of ’84 with the tech boom, and the next year I decided to check it out; knowing nothing other than it was in Kerrville on Memorial Day.
Rode my motorcycle down for the afternoon, and got a school zone speeding ticket from K’ville’s finest on the way; on Memorial Day!. Robert Earl Keen was a new folk winner that year and had his main stage appearance that aft. Then I drove back in the evening wishing that I had prepared to spend the night.
Have been coming nearly every year since. Slept on the open ground with the Tone Deaf Cowboys many years. Knelt at the feet of Doug Dillard and Vassar Clements backstage at the BG Fest one year showing them how to get back to Nashville on my Texas map.
Nearly washed down the hill with a girlfriend from the Crow’s Nest one year. Motorcycle camping again.
All five of my kids have spent some part of the first year of their life on the Ranch during the fest.
Bought lifetime tix the last year they were offered. Started working Maintenance when the oldest (now 21) turned 12 and needed a ticket.
Got a Veteran’s wrist band for the first time 2012.
Jenni Mansfield Peal :
In 1990 I won two VIP passes to KFF by placing first in Poor David’s Pub B.W. Stevenson Songwriting Contest in Dallas. I also won $100, which I used to pay for the songwriting school that year. It was intense.
Tia Sandi :
Hairy Larry Fein moved in next door to us in ’92 in South Austin back when he had long braids. The rest is 'hairstory', I mean history.
Jacque Dickinson/VIP :
My first was 1984, attended 3 , skipped a few. Then have been every year since 1990. Conceived my second child James Dickinson there in 1990, he’s been every year since, conceived 3rd child there , Jacob Dickinson there in 1993, and he only missed 2,(after Hippie Karl died). Have done 22 consecutively.
Shannon Flattery :
I was brought down by the 'Poet' in 1999 (same year Schwartz first arrived) to undergo 'the girlfriend test' and I passed seamlessly blending into the fray. Married the Poet onsite 2 years later even though Lindell (Camp CALM queen) warned me that I would spend every anniversary thereafter on the ranch. Seemed OK to me.
Side Info: Ed Florida brought the Poet and the Poet brought Chandler and it goes on… So who brought Ed Florida and is responsible for all my wedding anniversaries on the ranch?
Karen Fraser :
"A man I was dating at the time invited me to go to the festival with him for a weekend. The extraordinary music and people I met that weekend kept me returning for a long time."