By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Aug 22, 2002 at 5:25 AM

Six years ago, Gil's Cafe owner, Gil Rasmussen, started Gil Fest out of his love for Americana music and the Austin sound characterized by honest songwriting, straight-on delivery and traditional instrumentation. "For some reason this was a musical genre that did not often make it to local clubs or other festivals," he says.

This year, Gil Fest brings southern tastes, smells and sounds to Milwaukee's East Side on Sat., Aug. 24, outside of Gil's Cafe, 2608 N. Downer Ave.

The Fest will feature both national and local artists. Alejandro Escovedo Band, a rock/country/punk band featuring two percussionists for Santana, will headline. Country-rocker Phil Lee, bluesman Billy Lee Riley, Jimmy Sutton and the Fourcharms and the alt-country John Evans Band will also take the stage, as will local bands Pinto, Aimless Blades and Tim Cook and The Riverwesterners.

Gil Fest grub is sure to satisfy with Texas Longhorn Steer Burgers, Los Brazos Tamale Plate, Chipolte BBQ chicken sandwiches and more. Plus, the beverage menu is loaded with gussied-up quenchers, from Texas Tornado rum cocktails to Panhandle Punch and all your favorite Lakefront beers, too.

"No other festival in town features Texas-style music and food in an environment that actually feels faintly Texan -- it's usually hot, the pony rides lend a ranch-like quality, there's plenty of rowdiness and the sounds are definitively honky tonk," says Jennifer Geigel, vocalist for Pinto and Texas resident from 1980-'86. "This is my favorite summer festival because the music is the focus and there are no glow sticks! And, it's free."

Gil Fest at a glance:
11:30 a.m. Pinto
12:30 p.m. Aimless Blades
1:30 p.m. Tim Cook & The Riverwesterners
3 p.m. John Evans Band
4:30 p.m. Jimmy Sutton and the Fourcharms
5:30 p.m. Billy Lee Riley
7:30 p.m. Phil Lee
9 p.m. Alejandro Escovedo Band

Note: Band times are approximate for bands that are playing earlier in the day.