San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 23rd, 2010
BIGFest benefit has big stars and big hearts


BIGFest started out as a birthday bash for award-winning local musician Big John Mills, who will perform at the event this weekend. File photo.

Scene Editor

San Marcos will be filled with more music than usual Friday through Saturday, when the fifth annual BIGFest is held at the Cheatham Street Warehouse, 119 Cheatham Street.

The festival started out as “Big John’s Annual Birthday Bash” for the award winning San Marcos musician and songwriter Big John Mills, and has since morphed into a three-day music festival celebrating Texas music, musicians and the rich history of Cheatham Street Warehouse.

The event is three days of non-stop music and a silent auction all done in support of the Cheatham Street Music Foundation (CSMF), a non-profit organization promoting, developing, preserving and perpetuating Texas music.

The musicians who play at the festival all donate their time and talent in support of Cheatham Street proprietor Kent Finlay and the CSMF. Of course, Big John’s birthday is still some part of the event.

“Bigfest is just a prime example of the generosity of our exciting Texas music community, ” said Finlay. “Songwriters and musicians are coming from all over the state to help the Cheatham Street Music Foundation raise funds to insure that the beautiful old 100-year-old historic Cheatham Street Warehouse can continue to be a place for developing Texas songwriters, musicians and international stars ’til hell freezes over.”

The line-up for this years BIGFest reads like a who’s who of local musicians. Among them are Walt Wilkins, Midnight River Choir, Earle Poole Ball, Jordan Minor, Hunter McKithan, Javi Garcia, Texas Renegade, Zack Walther and the Cronkites, the inimitable Redd Volkaert, birthday boy Big John Mills and the Texas Road Dawgs and a couple dozen more. For a complete listing of confirmed artists, as well as a description of the bands, visit

Silent auction items include CDs, autographed guitars, framed handwritten song lyrics and much more.

Friday night tickets are $8 in advance and $10 on the evening of the show. Saturday all day tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show, and Sunday all day tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show. A three-day weekend pass is $18 in advance and $30 on the first day of shows. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at

Musicians who have crossed the threshold of the venerable old cotton warehouse at the start of their careers include George Strait, Todd Snider and Randy Rogers. Musicians who have made it “big” are the icing on the Cheatham Street Warehouse cake. The deeper work being done at the venue is  illustrated by the the Songwriters Circles and song swaps that have encouraged hundreds of young musicians to explore their potentials, stretch their wings and gain some confidence. This is the slow, invisible work that enriches the lives of Texas musicians and music lovers.

Or, summing it up another way, as Finlay and so many others proclaim, “Texas music forever!”

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