For those of you who follow my newsletter over at Barbecue, Bets, and Beats – you know that in addition to loving sports, I’m also a massive fan of both barbecue and music. There is no festival on the planet that brings barbecue and music together in a seamless fashion quite like Troubadour Festival.
Luckily enough for me, the most recent edition of the festival fired up the crowd in my old stomping grounds of College Station. On Saturday, 6,200-plus descended on Aggie Park. In the shadow of Kyle Field, we soaked in the incredible sights, sounds, and smells (this is a barbecue festival after all) of Troubadour. While this wasn’t my first Troubadour Festival, between the venue, incredible eats, and electric musical performances – I have to say it claimed a spot as my favorite.
If you weren’t able to make it on Saturday, allow me to talk a little about the incredible scenes from College Station over the weekend and see if I might be able to convince you that this event is must attend.
Before we even get into the incredible food and music for which Troubadour Festival is known, I have to brag about my alma mater for a moment. Two years ago, an event like this wouldn’t have been possible on campus. Now? Thanks to the investment into Aggie Park – Aggieland has the perfect spot for this kind of festival.
The barbecue joints lined up together, the area surrounding the main stage, the vendor’s section – all of it fit together perfectly. It truly served as a testament to both the decision to invest in Aggie Park by the university and also the logistics ability of the Troubadour Festival crew. I can’t imagine another venue topping Aggie Park. Especially with Kyle Field looming large in the background. I mean even just the presence of the trees added a bit of shade to help the crowd out with staying cool. I don’t think there is any way this event venue could’ve been improved.
34 of the best Barbecue Joints in Texas were advertised for College Station and each and every one of them delivered. Admittedly, the amount of barbecue at the festival exceeded the amount of room in my stomach. In hindsight, I probably should know better than to close down Northgate the night before a feast. Sadly, because of my lack of foresight – I didn’t get to try all of the incredible bites.
However, every single bite I did try was out of this world. Classics like the brisket foldover at Dozier’s or the old-school jalapeño and cheese sausage and shoulder clod from LeRoy and Lewis showcased the spirit of original Texas Barbecue. Innovative dishes like the pastrami reuben tacos from LJ’s BBQ or the chicharron with green apple guacamole from Guess Family Barbecue displayed some of the unique flavors that Texas pitmasters can produce.
Desserts also found their way onto the menu at some of the barbecue stands. Evie Mae’s featured above had a beef tallow cobbler that was out of this world. Beef tallow also factored in as a major ingredient in the chocolate chip ice cream served by Teddy’s Barbecue along with some awesome crispy pork belly. Brett’s Family BBQ brought an incredible bourbon nutter butter banana pudding. The wildest of the desserts was served in sausage form as Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue brought a peach cobbler sausage.
The joints represented also came from all over the Lone Star state. From Marathon at the gates of Big Bend came Brick Vault Brewery & BBQ with smoked tri-tip and a potato taco that paired wonderfully. From the Golden Triangle, 1701 Barbecue represented with beef shank tostadas. The High Plains with Evie Mae’s, the Valley with Teddy’s, and Mimsy’s Craft Barbecue from East Texas made sure every corner of the state had at least one ambassador.
I could easily spend the entirety of this article talking about all of the incredible barbecue served and I know I’m leaving some out but we still have the music to get to. Let’s shift from smell and taste to sight and sound and talk about the incredible performances put on by some talented Texas musicians at Troubadour Fest.
Before the main stage even got going, some Texas acts were tearing it up on the Tumbleweed TexStyles Stage while barbecue was being served. Rachel Laren, Graycie York, and Braxton Keith all kept energy levels high in spite of the impending meat coma courtesy of the smoked meat delights.
When four o’clock rolled around, Treaty Oak Revival took the main stage to get the show kicked off. With their Texas Country Rock sound, the fellas kicked off the show in incredible fashion.
Next up was Uncle Lucius, a real treat to see live. They also tinge their uniquely Texas sound with a bit of rock. However, you’ll notice some other Southern influences in their sound as well. Jamming to the smooth stylings of their song “Rosalia” was a highlight for me.
Texas songwriting legend Charlie Robison followed up Uncle Lucius. Hearing the crowd singing along to hits like “New Year’s Day”, “El Cerrito Place”, and especially “My Hometown” made me extremely happy. It was a hot one out in Aggieland but the crowd powered through.
Sun sets on Troubadour Festival
As the sun started to go down Shane Smith & The Saints took the stage. In spite of the marathon of the day, the crowd was locked in from start to finish. The powerful fiddle, Shane’s unique voice, and the harmonies of his fellow bandmates all serve to make this band one of the most must-see live acts in the music industry. To witness them do their thing in the shadow of Kyle Field as an Aggie? Well, I’m having a difficult time finding the words to describe it. It was a truly special moment.
Finally, Midland wrapped up the show with smooth neo-honky tonk music to send the crowd to Northgate happy, a perfect capstone to what was a magical day in College Station.
I tip my hat to the Troubadour Festival crew. To the pitmasters, to the musicians, and to Texas A&M University as well. Aggieland just hosted one of the best parties I’ve ever attended and I am counting down the days till 2024 so we can all meet back there again.
If you enjoy smoked meats, sports, and killer tunes as much as I do – consider buying a Barbecue, Bets, and Beats sticker at the Apollo Store.