purple-skyPhotos and Words by Nathan Edge ( Instagram )

 

El Cosmico: Trans Pecos offers a truly unique festival experience, influenced by desert cowboy and Native American vibes, while showcasing a thoughtfully chosen lineup of soulful musicians, handmade artists, artisan food vendors and community workshops.

2016 marked the 11th year for the annual Festival of Music & Love, attracting enough like-minded folks to nearly double the population of the small town of Marfa, TX, over the weekend of September 22nd to 25th. ​

No matter where you pitch your tent (I literally placed mine next to the stage!) at El Cosmico, you are close to all the action. Yurts, Tepees, RVs and self-camping areas are scattered around the outskirts of the main stage, located smack dab in the middle of the 21 acre property. Behind the sound stage sits three wood burning hot tubs, shaped like salsa bowls, and shaded hammocks are placed on either side of the stage for general lounging purposes and sporadic cat naps.

 

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When music plays, all eyes focus on the center stage, which features five bands each night that carry a mixed sound of Folk / Country / Soul / Latin and Singer-Songwriter. There is a second pop up stage that activates late into the night, turning the place into a desert dance party.

The festival was set in such a beautiful location that a wedding took place on Saturday morning with the weather being near perfect. The clouds rolled in shortly after the festivities, coincidentally producing the most vivid purple sky I’ve ever seen. Nearly everyone stopped in their tracks to capture the moment.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

The cacti wouldn’t shine so bright at night without Kacey Musgraves! She stole the show the first night in an adorable outlaw fashion, with neon lit cacti on stage, alongside her band who wore twinkle light up suits. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling.

 

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Friday began with a familiar voice, Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards played a set of her solo material, which was a delightful surprise for me personally.

 

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Nathaneil Rateliff tore it up Friday night with The Night Sweats, and captivated the crowd with their upbeat tunes and soulful nature. I couldn’t keep myself from dancing.

Mexrrissey closed out Friday to a rowdy crowd that apparently couldn’t speak Spanish. It felt awkward as the mic was held out, and the audience repeatedly failed to recite their words. However, when the music is good enough, it doesn’t matter what the message is because people were clearly digging it. The full band returned the last night to collaborate with Calexico, and once again captured the heart of the crowd.

 

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Ben Kweller debuted a solo set of sad and lonely songs on Saturday from an unreleased album. He played some on the guitar, others on the piano, and it was all heartfelt to say the least.

 

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Rain began to softly fall shortly after Neko Case closed out the festival on the last night, as if the god of Music + Love was waiting for the sweet sounds of her sad guitar to come to an end before releasing buckets of rain into the desert. A downpour persisted throughout the night. I woke up Sunday morning in a puddle of water, but I still felt like it was a worthwhile cost for the unique experience.

 

2016 Lineup
THURSDAY 9/22
EL COSMICO FAMILY BAND WITH DAVID GARZA AND FRIENDS
KACEY MUSGRAVES
THE WILD FEATHERS
TIFT MERRITT
DAN DYER

FRIDAY 9/23
MEXRRISSEY
NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS
THE ECHOCENTRICS
WYE OAK
ERIKA WENNERSTROM

SATURDAY 9/24
NEKO CASE
CALEXICO
BEN KWELLER
ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER
DICK STUSSO

 

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