This past month on 4/20, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the 1st annual 4/20 on the block celebration in Denver, Colorado. A one day celebration of Denver’s thriving cannabis community that took place at 6 different music venues in downtown Denver. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect other than a bunch of stoners hanging around downtown. However I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of hard work, talent and dedication I observed while enjoying some great music and meeting cannabis entrepreneurs. The festival kicked off at (what other time could it be?) 4:20 pm, I then spent most of my time in a two story venue called City Hall.

Inside, there were about 25-30 different vendors representing many different facades of the growing cannabis industry. From clothing designers to travel guides and accountants to candy makers , I was quite impressed with the number of cannabis related occupations that have come about since the state legalized.





Later in the evening began the music portion of the festival with headliners such as Blockhead, Cut Chemist and Del the funky homosapien. The way the acts where scheduled reminded me of sxsw where multiple venues in same block where host of the acts. There where 6 venues on the block and between each venue where consumption buses, a legal place to consume and smoke cannabis products. Public consumption is still a no no under their new law, however that just made way for a new industry, the consumption bus. It’s legal to consume cannabis inside private, for-hire vehicles (as long as you’re not the driver). Colorado’s “open container” rules for marijuana, enacted last year, track those for alcohol. Both make exceptions for motor homes and for “the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation.”

There where also visual artist and comediennes at one of the venues. Perhaps my only complaint was that it was a little much just for one day and would have been better suited as a two day festival. 420 on the Block was defiantly a postive eye opener into the growing cannabis industry, most importantly it was a ballin event.

Baller ATX Heading to Old Settler’s Music Festival Next Weekend!

by Traci Mondragon


Now in its 30th year, Old Settler’s Music Festival is a celebration of music and art, and fun for the entire family. Since 1988, what was once a small bluegrass festival held at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock, TX, this eclectic festival has brought artists and musicians from Americana to Jazz to central Texas. Old Settler’s Music Festival rolls into Driftwood, TX this Thursday, April 20 through Sunday, April 23. Your Baller ATX crew will be hanging out at Old Settler’s on Saturday, so stay tuned for more coverage next week!

photos by David Gouldner

Not only does the festival feature headlining acts like Old 97’s and Sarah Jarosz, but also showcases local artists like Shakey Graves and Peterson Brothers. The most unique part of this festival is its emphasis on songwriting, and commitment to music and arts education. Songwriting workshops are featured on Saturday with artists from various genres, and are open to all festival goers. The festival also includes a youth competition for artists or bands 18 and under, with prizes ranging from cash, to professional coaching and feedback, to performance opportunities at the festival.

In addition to the focus on youth artists and songwriting workshops, Old Settler’s also awards two music scholarships each year to deserving students of music to either Austin Community College or Texas State University. Applicants must have excellent transcripts, essays, and musical talent in order to be chosen. This year’s recipients, Ernesto Hernandez, and Takahiro Shimada, an international student from Japan. Both will continue their music education thanks in part to Old Settler’s!

Family fun will be plentiful as always at this year’s festival. Arts & Crafts areas, playgrounds, a petting zoo, face painting, and environmental education for kids are just a few of the activities available for the little ones at Old Settler’s Music Festival. If you’re taking advantage of the camping at the festival, the family can also enjoy swimming in cool Onion Creek, sing-alongs, and storytelling by the campfire.

There’s something for everyone at Old Settler’s Music Festival, and tickets are still available, including weekend passes and daily tickets. The festival also utilizes volunteers, so check here to see if they still need help this year!

This weekend we found ourselves fortunate to be invited to AIM fest aka the Austin instrumental music fest. A one day long musical showcase at the Empire control room with 2 stages and 20 acts. In its third year it has grown from a mere less than 100 in attendance to over 500. The ticket price was $25 and let me tell you, you got your money’s worth.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the music but was blown away by what I heard. From a bit of classical to jazz to heavy metal and some fantastic 8bit music I was not disappointed. My only regret was having to run errands and getting there late. My personal favorite band of the night had to be Bitforce. A power-trio with superhuman abilities that fights the evil of the universe with their tasty nerdcore groove as self-described on their facebook but I agree.

I hope that this fest continues to grow each year, it’s definitely underrated and underappreciated. This is the type of festival that makes Austin such a cool place to keep living in. We at Ballin most certainly cannot wait till next year.

As a long time ska punk fan and a fan of Colorado, I made my way to the mile-high city to rage and riot! At Riot Fest that is!

Riot Fest, originating in Chicago, is a punk rock based festival that has since expanded to a second location in the mile-high city.

Now, just because it is considered a Punk Rock Festival doesn’t mean that it is limited to just the genre; it tends to include a smattering of Ska, Indie Rock (Modest Mouse in 2015 and Death Cab for Cutie in 2016 respectively… WTF?!), Metal, etc. There is definitely something for everyone and anyone… that happens to also like Punk music. The major selling point for 2016? The MISFITS reunion!

Friday kicked off the weekend right! The weather was beautifully sunny, but not too warm (by Texas standards at least). It remained this way all weekend long. Let me say that after years of Warped Tours on asphalt and black top in the Texas heat during my youth; this was amazing. The only time you felt like finding some shade was when you had just had enough sun and never because of getting overheated.

After running into Doug Benson (we love you Doug!) outside the Festival we made our way into the grounds. We scouted the Merch Booth followed by the concession stands, which lead to the first and only real disappointment of the weekend… in a place with craft beer that regularly wins awards like Denver we were limited to Dos Equis and other equally dissatisfying libations. (Get your shit together Riot Fest!) The food choices were solid though.

Friday was filled with a number of bands I had been looking forward to seeing again (or for the first time). The Descendants showed that they still had some rage left! The Aquabats, which is always a fun and family friendly show, instructed the next generation of little rioters on how to properly circle pit by pulling them up on stage! Start them young! (I can think of plenty of older fans that have a hard time grasping the idea. It’s like they are the kid that always tried to fit the square through the circular hole. Idiots.) Fitz and the Tantrums properly lived up to their pun inspired name. NOFX was rad as fuck. Deftones rocked! Janes Addiction (performing Ritual De Lo Habitual) killed it as the closer!

Saturday may have had the least exciting line-up of the weekend for me personally. The Hold Steady (performing Boys & Girls in America) was a damn fine show! Sleater Kinney reminded us (like we needed one) that ladies can perform as good if not better than any group of guys. Ween closed the day out as only they could have.

Sunday was the day I think most everyone was psyched for. This day was really centered around the dueling stages of the Roots Stage and Riot Stage. Notably really starting off with Chevy Metal, a cover band with one sweet name and a sound to back it up. Unfortunately for them they had to compete with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at the game of covers songs. Let me tell you, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes won hands down! Next up was a superb performance by Pepper! Think that sounds amazing? Bad Religion rocked the shit out of the audience next! Where do you go from there you may ask? The gypsy punk inspired music of Gogol Bordello! When everyone was exhausted from dancing their asses off The Original Misfits made us all remember why we were there in the first place in all of their horror punk rock glory! My Satan it was beautiful!

Thank you Riot Fest for satiating the punk rock void in my life. Until next year!!!



by Traci Mondragon, photos by Dominic Mondragon




This Texas gal has never been to Kentucky, the land of chicken and horses, but I’ll definitely be back if it means attending the chill, artsy, fast-growing music festival known as Forecastle. Baller ATX headed to Louisville, KY last weekend to see what this fest has to offer, and how it compares to all that we know and love about festivals in Austin, TX.

We arrived Friday, and were instantly surprised by the ample street parking very near the festival grounds – the sprawling and beautiful Waterfront Park – as well as the practically non-existent lines at the entrance. Despite the quick entry process, the festival was filled with attendees. Whether up front and center for a great band, laying on a blanket in the lush grass, or sitting in one of the many shady spots across the park, festival-goers were plenty. This is one of the most well attended festivals I’ve been to, yet there was ample space to get to and from all the stages, and short lines to grab a bite or a beer.

Speaking of food and drinks… there were many local eateries with booths at Forecastle, and we attempted to sample as much as we could! From the spicy (affordable!) creole mac and cheese at the Roti Rolls truck, to the burger and fries from the cool dudes Black Rock Grill… we felt the love in everything we tried. Drinks were, as you might guess, festival-priced, but when we made the trek over to Kentucky Landing, the local shop, restaurant, and beer area… we found several delicious brews from local breweries – and at just $2 for a 4 oz. sample! The West Sixth IPA from West Sixth Brewing and the Crank Shaft IPA from Braxton Brewing were among my favorites.

Now on to the music…the reason we were there at all!

Forecastle opens later on Friday, so we got there around 4pm, just in time to catch a taste of the sweet vocal sounds of Liz Vice…

…but that’s when the storm came. Literally.

Empty fest. But no rain...yet.

Empty fest. But no rain…yet.

The festival was quickly and briefly evacuated due to lightning in the area. Big thanks to all the volunteers, staff, and security who smoothly got everyone to safety while we waited for the storm to pass. Around 6:45pm, everyone was allowed back into the park, and all scheduled bands were pushed back so that no one missed seeing and hearing their favorites!

So13705273_531990883655661_1401044673_n, we resumed our music watching experience with the vibrant, energetic Grouplove, who really put on an amazing show. We then walked over to the other side of the park to catch the second half of Austin’s own Wild Child. They never disappoint, and drew quite a large Kentucky crowd! After catching a little of Baauer, Moon Taxi, and Bully… we made it over to see another Austin original (and favorite) Ghostland Observatory. Thomas and Aaron did what they do best and created the incredible, heart-pumping stage, light, and musical experience we all know. On our way to the festival’s main stage, we caught a glimpse and sound of Glass Animals, and ended the night with the headliner… The Avett Brothers. Alternating between low-tempo songs of love and loss and upbeat, uplifting tunes, The Avett Brothers played to the huge crowd, and made us all remember why we love music festivals. The harmony they inspire and the spirit of togetherness they foster.


Saturday, we began with some rockin’ tunes by Future Thieves at the WFPK Port Stage, which is where we tried some of that great mac and cheese from the Roti Rolls truck! Then, we got to see one of my personal highlights of the fest – BANNERS… that Brit has an incredible voice, and his catchy, anthemic pop-rock is so infectious. Luckily they were playing the Ocean Stage, which is literally under the freeway that runs over the middle of the park. Plenty of shade. Then we moseyed over to hear the soft, beautiful sounds of Sarah Jarosz, listening under the trees at the Boom Stage, and continued our laid-back afternoon with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. We took a little respite there for a while (it may have not been 100 degrees like in Austin, but it was HOT, y’all), then continued our evening with Local Native and a bit of Sylvan Esso. We shook it to Alabama Shakes before calling it an early night.


We definitely had a bit of a lazy Sunday, so we didn’t get to the fest until about 3:00, but that was just in time to rock out to Heartless Bastards! We grabbed a spot under those trees from Saturday, and caught Austin’s own White Denim, who had a great crowd for a sunny, sweltering afternoon time slot. Then, it was time for probably our most anticipated band of the fest… Death Cab!!! The crowd was excellent; the temperature had finally gone down a bit by their 7:00 start time; they sounded amazing. They played the hits, they played a few new tunes, and they stole my heart…as always. I’m pretty sure I cried a little during “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” because I’m a big cry baby.

We had a 7:40am flight from the Cincinnati airport (1.5 hours from Louisville) the next morning, so we let our Forecastle experience end on a high note with Death Cab…and called it quits before 9pm. Hey, we’re in our mid-thirties. We need sleep… and apparently, we DO stop sometimes…13695002_531991146988968_423771653_n

All in all, Forecastle and Louisville were incredibly hospitable, fun, and definitely worth the trek from Austin. So next time you’re looking outside to venture outside of your ATX bubble for a chill music fest, strongly consider Forecastle. You won’t be sorry.