Festival offers hot music, and hotter dishes

Larry Joe Taylor rolls into Red River with great music and Texas-style chili and barbecue cook-offs

By Dena Miller
Posted 8/13/19

There are honky-tonk sounds ambling around the Enchanted Circle, swooping across the valleys and skittering around the mountain tops. Where arText …

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Festival offers hot music, and hotter dishes

Larry Joe Taylor rolls into Red River with great music and Texas-style chili and barbecue cook-offs


There are honky-tonk sounds ambling around the Enchanted Circle, swooping across the valleys and skittering around the mountain tops. Where are they coming from? A lowrider whose radio is cranked to the max? Or some rowdy roadhouse fun captured and carried by the late summer winds? Check your calendar: likely, it's Larry Joe Taylor's 23rd annual "Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights" music festival that's settled for the weekend into Red River's best venues.

Widely hailed as one of the town's premier events, the festival opened Wednesday (Aug. 14) with a barbecue dinner at the Bitter Creek Ranch and was crowned with a performance by Billboard favorite, Radney Foster. If you missed it, have no fear. There are three more days of Americana, country folk, bluegrass, and classics and standards of the country genre to get you up and rocking.

Larry Joe Taylor’s 23rd annual “Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights” kicks off Wednesday (Aug. 14) at Red River’s scenic Bitter Creek Ranch, with doors opening at 6 p.m.

Tickets to the outdoor event include a barbecue dinner that’s rumored to be a collaboration by two iconic Red River eateries: Texas Reds Steakhouse and Shotgun Willie’s. Beverages will be available for purchase.

Dinner will be followed with a performance by singer-songwriter Radney Foster. The Texas-born artist has enjoyed a decades-long career both recording and performing, and has seen his original songs recorded by the likes of Keith Urban, Emmylou Harris, and Hootie and the Blowfish.

If you have previously purchased a Red River Festival VIP Package A, then your Wednesday night is included. Otherwise, for this event you may purchase a ticket online for $37.50 or pay $45 at the door, both subject to availability. Visit for further information.

The Bitter Creek Ranch is located at 178 Bitter Creek Road in Red River, approximately 9.4 miles from the Motherlode Saloon.

On Thursday (Aug. 15) your evening begins at 5 p.m. with a "Welcome to Red River Happy Hour" at the Lost Love Saloon, adjacent to Texas Reds Steakhouse on Main Street. Enjoy your beverages as special sit-in guest musicians kick off a weekend that'll feature an impressive roster of your favorite artists.

At 8:30 p.m., those of you 21 and over will want to walk the few steps over to Red River's old time dance hall, the Motherlode Saloon, for a 90-minute acoustic song swap headed by Coalition, and featuring David Perez, Deryl Dodd and Larry Joe Taylor. The Tejas Brothers will take over the stage at 10 p.m. and will make sure your dancing boots have had a good turn around the floor before you retire for the night.

The hair of the dog awaits you Friday (Aug. 16) back at the Lost Love Saloon, with a 9 a.m. "Bloody Mary Morning" and the tunes of Joe Forlini. You'll then be right and tight by noon for a chairlift ride to Red River's ski area summit and its perfectly located restaurant and deck, The Tip. Settled on the deck and enjoying both the kitchen's easy bites and the majesty of Carson National Forest, you'll be serenaded starting at noon by one of the region's most beloved ensembles, South by Southwest.

Mike Addington (now a Red River resident), Jarrod Morris, Dodd and Josh Weathers are all on board to shake your Friday afternoon from 3 p.m. well into the evening in the heart of Red River at Brandenburg Park.

By 9 p.m., the adult audience will want to find itself back at the Motherlode, where both Taylor's and Dodd's bands will close your Friday night on a high note.

Saturday (Aug. 17) you'll be starting early and running late, and you're going to love every moment of it.

The second day of the Brandenburg Park concert series kicks off at 9:30 a.m. when the New Mexico Music Showcase (musicians to be announced) takes the stage, followed by The Powell Brothers, Erick Willis, Prophets and Outlaws, the Tejas Brothers, Taylor and Kevin Fowler.

On this final day the tantalizing smells of chili and barbecue will share Red River's crown jewel municipal park and entice your senses as much as the music will, thanks to the Chili Appreciation Society International, the Lone Star Barbecue Society and their highly anticipated cook-offs.

David Tondre of LSBS said, "We've been told this event -- music and barbecue -- is the biggest draw that Red River has all year." We're aware of the stellar performing lineup but from his description of the cook-offs, it's no wonder. Brisket, pork ribs and chicken will be sizzling on the grills while chili bubbles alongside.

He also noted that, in addition to the generous cash prizes for the Grand Champion and Top Ten winners, this is the first year a People's Choice award will be given. "When people come with their tickets to the music festival, they will also be given voting tickets for their favorite barbecue and chili samples." Take advantage of that and enjoy tasting the offerings of some of the Southwest's best barbecue cookers, as well as those participating in the New Mexican green chile challenge.

Taylor, founder of "Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights," has a dedicated following throughout Texas and New Mexico among those who appreciate his unique style and showmanship.

"LJT never has just one genre and it's hard to beat his style of rock 'n' roll, country, reggae, blues and doo-wop, but his songs about the coast, sailing and island hopping are some of the best from our perspective," noted a reviewer in Taylor's love of the region and his craft is returned back to him by the sold-out crowds who attend this annual event.

He'll return to the Motherlode with his band, as will Prophets and Outlaws, for the Farewell Party on Saturday at 9 p.m.

Check out for tickets and additional information.


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