Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic (Austin, Texas)

July 1st, 2015

Willie Nelson’s July 4th Picnic

July 1st, 2015

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www.austin360.com
by:  Dave Thomas

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  • By Dave Thomas

    FORT WORTH — “I think we’re tied for the most bras tossed onstage,” Dierks Bentley told the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic crowd. “Austin is right up there with you.”

    So, Austin, we have that going for us.

    No, actually, we lost that record in short order. Of course such a record seems dubious, if I were Dierks Bentley, I’d say that at every show.

    And he probably does. A human super ball of energy, Bentley had the crowd in the palm of his hand early. He never missed a chance to say “Fort Worth” and by the time he sang the extra verse to “Am I The Only One” — about good times at the Picnic — he had an army.

    Who could top that?

    Easy, the guy whose name is on the show.

    Coming out at 9:50 p.m. to a crowd that Billy Bob’s Texas says topped 10,000 (though I would guess significantly more), Willie Nelson hit the opening chords of “Whiskey River,” the Texas flag dropped down behind him and he let loose about 75 minutes of old hits and new songs. The elder statesman of the Picnic, Willie is as cool as John Lee Hooker. He ran through his standard opening numbers — including a run of “Ain’t it Funny,” “Crazy” and “Night Life” that was accompanied by fireworks in the distance — and found his way to newer songs “Breathe,” “Bring it On” and “Band of Brothers.”

    By the time Willie returned to old standards such as “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys” and “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” — the sea of fans at the south stage had begun to recede a bit — glassy-eyed and limping faithful who were clearly thinking “OK, we’ve seen Willie, now we can go” were doing just that.

    There’s no doubt, the Picnic is an endurance test for folks who want to take it all in. And with only 13 artists (outnumbered 2-1 by official sponsors), it didn’t seem right to miss anyone. So by mid-afternoon you’d have sad sights: An older woman hobbling in cowboy boots alongside a shell-shocked man. Angrily red sunburned faces of the stubborn and ghost-pale faces of  those who were a swoon away from being carted away by the EMS. On the other hand, there was that fellow in black leather, looking like David Allan Coe did in the 1970s, eating a fudgsicle and walking through the crowd like somebody’s bad dream. Some folks are impervious.

    That doesn’t include David Allan Coe in the 2010s. He limped out with a walker, sat down in a chair and was handed an ’80s-style hair-metal guitar full of sharp points, and he launched into Merle Haggard’s “Rambling Fever.” After that, we entered the Coe Medley Zone and we never left. I think one song was “My Long Hair Never Covered up The Ride.” Nine years ago in this very spot, Coe was a force of nature — love him or hate him, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. A decade and a serious car wreck later, he’s fighting onward, but it seems uphill now.

    The Picnic has been losing regular performers faster than it has been gaining them. It picked up Jamey Johnson a few years back, but more are needed. I don’t know how long the Picnic will go on, but for however long that is, Ryan Bingham should be at every one. Bingham’s unpretentious style (write excellent songs, step up to mike, sing the hell out of them) fits in perfectly alongside the legends he followed. And his fans loved him for it, every song (“Dollar a Day,” “Dylan’s Hard Rain,” “Sunrise,” “Country Roads”) was greeted with a huge “whoooo” of appreciation.

    At the soft opening of “Day is Done,” Bingham’s rasp rattled the North Forty like a small earthquake. By the time he hit the middle of “Bread and Water,” an American flag was waving above outstretched hands at the right of the stage and suspicious puffs of smoke were floating above the left side. One of the benefits of a 75-minute set is the opportunity for the rarest of Picnic things: An encore. And Bingham, in an inspired move, closed his with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”

    After dozens of Picnics — he made his debut 40 years ago at the same College Station Picnic where Robert Earl Keen’s car caught on fire — Ray Wylie Hubbard totally gets it: Hit the crowd hard with what they want and don’t stop hitting until the set is over. If they never catch their breath, they’ll never notice they are baking in a dusty field. “Rabbit” quickly lead to “Snake Farm” anad “Drunken Poets Dream.” By the team we got to the sing-along of “Redneck Mother” beers were held high, waving in not-quite-unison.

    Earlier in the day, Charley Pride came out in a purple shirt and got a royal reception to match. The country legend got the biggest roar of the early afternoon, opening with “Six Days on the Road” before getting to what everyone was waiting for: “Is Anybody Going to San Antone.” Pride worked the stage, microphone in one hand and a white towel in the other to mop the sweat from his head, never missing a note while he did so. It took him awhile to get warmed up — 20 minutes in I was wishing terribly he’d get a bonus 20 minutes — but once he did, he was mesmerizing.

    The Willie Picnic crowd seems to love a legend we haven’t seen very often, and Willie has a long history of making them part of his show. The crowd ate up “All I have to Offer You (Is Me)” and “Mountain of Love” and he gave the fans in the front little waves before we got our first hair-stand-on-end moment of the day: a patriotic song — which I’ll guess is called “America the Great.” It was one of the great Picnic moments that I’ve seen in the past decade.

    Pride gave us all we came to see, ending with “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and working that warmed-up voice with “Kaw-Liga.”

    It’s as if Johnny Bush saw Leon Russell’s fiery set at last year’s show and took it as a personal challenge. Bush, who is the traditional country music heart of the Picnic, came out with “There Stands the Glass” and didn’t slow down from there. He joked with the crowd a moment: “I talked to Willie yesterday and he said next year we’re going to do the Fourth of July Picnic in February.” But then it was one great hit after another: “Undo the Right,” “Pipeliner Blues” and “All the Rage in Paris” — an excellent new song he wrote with Randy Rogers.

    After an instrumental break — if twin fiddles don’t stir your soul, you ain’t in the right place — he closed with hits “Green Snakes” and “Whiskey River.”

    There was drama early in the day when a fellow passed out at the front of the south stage about halfway through Folk Uke’s set. Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson stopped the show and called for EMS services, who quickly revived the older gentlemen and hustled him off to the medical tent (later, I would find myself standing next to him at the Ray Wylie Hubbard set — rock on, dude). When it was obvious that the man was not in real trouble, the Nelson family quickly turned comedy team.

    “That’s OK, the song wasn’t very good anyway,” Amy said. Brother Micah joked, “My solo was so bad he passed out.”

    Micah was sitting in on Folk Uke’s set of charmingly profane and profanely charming songs before bringing out his band Insects vs. Robots. The comedy would continue during the set change: “I have a really offensive joke,” Micah told the crowd. “Can you handle it? Is this America?”

    We won’t tell you the joke, for much the same reason we won’t tell you what songs Folk Uke played, but it led right in to Insects vs. Robots, which brought the “I like this, but what the heck is it?” to the Picnic for the second year. Their set consisted of 2 extended jams, the last ending with the whole band wailin’ out of tune, which was as close and as far as this Picnic would get to Waylon Jennings.

    Amber Digby’s traditional country set the tone for the hundreds filing in during the opening hour. Not sure why her and her 7-piece band got a full hour (during the Luckenbach hour this would’ve been split up into four local acts, each overjoyed to be there), but Digby made the most of it, including an inspired closing song: Johnny Paycheck’s “If I’m Going to Sink (Might as Well Go to the Bottom).”

    For those of you keeping track of such things, beer was running $6 a 16-ounce bottle, and if you spent too much money, you might have ended up like the girl who ran up and puked into the trashcan I was standing next to. The beer wasn’t the only overpriced thing: Official Willie T-shirts started at $40 and climbed from there.

    Back to Dierks Bentley: He came out to “5-1-5-0″ and soon beach balls were bouncing everywhere. Bentley snagged one from mid-air and held it before him like a he had lopped it off of someone’s neck. The crowd went nuts. Actually, the crowd was nuts the whole show, soaking in “Free and Easy” and “Tip it on Back” and, particularly, “Drunk on a Plane.”

    Bentley is unstoppable, bringing a fan on stage for a beer-shotgunning contest, climbing down to the fence to high-five fans, grabbing a camera for a selfie. He tells us that he told Willie’s manager years back that his bucket list included playing Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic and Farm Aid. Halfway there. Another faux-encore leads to, of course, “What was I Thinking.”

    Later, as Willie is winding down his set, starting with “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and leading into “I’ll Fly Away” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” he has been joined by the remaining stars of the day — Bentley and Johnson and Bingham are among them — for the traditional closing stretch. Willie sounds great, his voice about 20 years younger at this moment, when he starts up what will be the last song, Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light.”

    Done, Willie takes off Trigger and starts to head backstage as the band keeps the song going. Then Willie changes his mind, comes back to the mike and gives us one more refrain. It’s hard to tell from here, but he seems reluctant to leave the stage. Then he gives us all a little bow and a little wave and that’s it.

    A sign? Will there be a 42nd annual Picnic? With Willie you never know.

    About Dave Thomas

    Dave Thomas has been a copy editor, designer and now web producer for the Austin American-Statesman since 2002.

    Send Dave Thomas an email.

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    Damn Proud I was there! Willie Nelson’s July 4th Picnic

    July 1st, 2015

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    Have you got yours yet?

    July 1st, 2015

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    Willie Nelson, Briarclff, Texas (7/4/1979)

    July 1st, 2015

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    photo:  Scott Newton

    Willie Nelson on stage at “Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic” in Briarcliff, Texas, July 4, 1979.

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    Happy July!

    July 1st, 2015

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    Willie Nelson & Family*Eric Church*Kacey Musgraves*Merle Haggard*Jamey Johnson*Jason Isbell*Asleep At The Wheel*Sturgill Simpson*Leon Russell*Chris Stapleton*Billie Joe Shaver*Kris Kristofferson*Johnny Bush*Greezy Wheels*Ray Wylie Hubbard*David Allan Coe*Dallas Wayne*Paula Nelson*Raelyn Nelson Band*Folk Uke*Hudson Moore*Amber Digby*Pauline Reese

    Only Four More Days

    June 30th, 2015

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    Raeylyn Nelson’s counting the days. Everyone’s excited!

    Willie Nelson song in new Subaru commercial

    June 30th, 2015
    Willie Nelson’s, “I’ve Loved You All Over the World” is soundtrack for this sneak preview of new video about the joy the story of a Subaru Impreza owner taking his loyal, old dog on one more amazing trip.

    About This Commercial:

    DescriptionThe bond between a man and his dog is as strong as the Subaru Impreza. In his furry best friend’s golden years, the pair finish the dog’s bucket list while Willie Nelson’s “I’ve Loved You All Over the World” plays in the background: filling shopping carts up with tennis balls, 14 and 3/4 birthday cakes, a brand new leather shoe to chew on and fixing mends with old girlfriends. Make the most out of every mile with Subaru.

    Dogs are the best. No, this isn’t a subtle shot at cat lovers, but dogs make loyal companions who will form a bond with you that you’ll never be able to find anywhere else. Besides, the feelings you get when you walk through the door and a dog sees you is amazing. Imagine being greeted by your dog for the very first time, only this happens every time. So whether we see a laundry basket full of puppies or an older dog with a little salt and pepper on his face, it warms the heart and makes you feel all fuzzy inside. Dogs are pretty awesome.

    This is the case in this 30-second ad from Subaru highlighting the Subaru Impreza. Willie Nelson’s “I’ve Loved You All Over the World” plays in the background setting the right mood. We see a man and his best friend going through a bucket list, full of items and to-do experiences. From one hundred tennis balls, an almost-there birthday cake, a brand new leather shoe to chew on, to even breaking a few rules and getting a swim in at the local motel pool that doesn’t allow dogs, the owner doesn’t hold back on his list. He even sets up a reunion between his dog and the dog’s old girlfriend! That deserves some kind of awesome owner award doesn’t it? It’s sweet to see an owner provide as much happiness and joy as he can for his beloved companion, just like the dog has provided for his owner all his life.

    Willie Nelson sings on hidden track of Kacey Musgraves album, “Are You Sure”

    June 30th, 2015

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    www.radio.com

    by: Annie Reuter

    Read entire article, listen to interview here.

    Kacey Musgraves credits Willie Nelson as being a huge supporter. In fact, Nelson not only took Musgraves on tour with him last year, he even sings on a hidden track, “Are You Sure,” at the very end of the album.

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    The collaboration came about while she was on Nelson’s tour bus and asked him why he doesn’t play the song live anymore.

    “He couldn’t believe I knew it,” she recalls of the song, which Nelson first recorded in the 1960s. “I just really loved it. It’s very honest and very country, [and] it’s a neat perspective. He seemingly pulled a guitar out of a cloud of smoke and started strumming. I was of course dying inside a little bit.”

    Nelson told Musgraves that he’d love to sing on the track with her and even brought his iconic guitar Trigger to play on the song.

    “It was meant to be a hidden track at the end. A little nugget for people who make it to the end of the record,” she says.

    Just as much as her hidden track is a surprise for fans, it’s also something she cherishes.

    “I had so much fun creating this record and wanted to convey a classic, even tone throughout the whole thing,” she concludes. “I hope the live spirit we wanted to capture came across.”

    Another Willie Nelson Fan, in Bend, Oregon (every picture tells a story, don’t it)

    June 30th, 2015

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    www.willienelson.com

    Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard on NPR’s best songs of 2015 (so far) list

    June 30th, 2015

    NPR’s

    …2015…so far

    NPR Music is launching an online radio station today with the best songs of 2015 (so far), and Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard’s “He’s the Only Man Wilder Than Me” is on the list.

    Give the station a listen here:

    http://npr.org/bestsongs2015

    Neil Young donates tickets to Lincoln, NE concert with Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real to support Bold Nebraska — July 11, 2015

    June 30th, 2015

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    Click here to buy tickets to see Neil Young in concert + Bold Nebraska’s “Politics & Pints” on July 11th.

    Our hero and fellow Pipeline Fighter Neil Young is coming to Lincoln on Saturday, July 11th to perform a concert at Pinnacle Arena with the band Promise of the Real — which includes Lukas and Micah Nelson.

    For anyone who attended the “Harvest the Hope” concert last fall, Promise of the Real stood out as a force. Rock legend Neil Young teaming up with the Nelson boys is a show that cannot be missed!

    Neil has generously donated a batch of tickets to his July 11th concert to Bold Nebraska, which we have put on sale as a part of a fundraiser that also includes admission to our pre-concert “Politics + Pints” event with speakers, local musicians, and Special Guests.

    Click here to purchase tickets.

    (**Your concert tickets will be held for pick-up at Vega during the pre-concert “Politics & Pints” event**)

    YOUR $80 DONATION TO BOLD NEBRASKA INCLUDES:

    • 1 ticket to the Saturday July 11th Neil Young & Promise of the Real concert at Pinnacle Arena in Lincoln, NE
    • Admission and a guaranteed seat at the Bold Nebraska Pre-Concert “Politics + Pints” event at Vega (2-minute walk from Pinnacle Arena)
    • 1 “Harvest the Hope” concert poster (must be picked up at Vega pre-concert event)
    • WHAT: Bold Nebraska “Politics + Pints” Event
    • WHERE: VEGA: 350 Canopy Street #220, Lincoln, NE 68501
    • WHEN: Saturday, July 11th 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
    • MUSIC: The Bottle Tops and more to be announced soon
    • SPEAKERS: Jane Kleeb (Bold Nebraska); Shane Davis (founder Fractivist.org); Greg Grey Cloud (Wica Agli); Art Tanderup (farmer and host of Harvest the Hope); Special Guests; more to be announced soon
    Neil’s new album is called “The Monsanto Years,” and his current tour is focused on the risks that corporation brings to farms and our food system. The “Politics & Pints” event will focus on issues around Monsanto and other threats to our land and water.

    (You may also RSVP to attend the “Politics & Pints” event if you’re not going to the Neil Young concert, but the only way to be guaranteed a seat is to purchase a ticket through the Bold Nebraska website.)

    Click here to buy tickets to see Neil Young in concert and attend Bold Nebraska’s “Politics & Pints” pre-concert event at Vega.

    Looking forward to rocking out again together with Neil!

    Jane Kleeb and the Bold Nebraska team

    Willie Nelson leads star-studded Waylon Jennings tribute in Austin (July 6, 2015)

    June 29th, 2015

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    The star-studded lineup of performers also includes Alison Krauss, Robert Earl Keen, Chris Stapleton, Toby Keith, Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, son Shooter Jennings, widow Jessi Colter, and Billy Joe Shaver. Producers Buddy Cannon and Don Was will serve as musical directors; the latter will lead the backing band as well.

    The event is being filmed and recorded for release at a future date.

    —Juli Thanki, jthanki@tennessean.com

    Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss at Marymoor Park in Seattle (6/27/15)

    June 29th, 2015

    marymoorphoto:  Gary Miller

    Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss Enchant Seattle Stage

    Two very different bands form an enjoyably mismatched partnership on summer tour

    www.Rollingstone.com
    by:  Mike Seely

    While their frequent bluegrass jams leave plenty of room for musical imagination, Alison Krauss and Union Station are the portrait of technical precision live. Krauss is a virtuosic fiddle player who boasts a voice that flutters high above her band’s well-choreographed ballet of strings, with Jerry Douglas’ Dobro piercing through the pine.

    Saturday night at tree-lined Marymoor Park in suburban Seattle, Krauss, dressed like a classical musician in a black dress shirt and slacks, relayed a remark that an anonymous observer made about Douglas’ connection to his lap guitar. “I always forget it’s an instrument,” said the onlooker. “I always think it’s his voice.”

    As for Krauss’ voice, dry air had rendered it nearly inoperative in Utah a week ago. Fortunately for the Seattle crowd, which cooled itself with portable fans in the midst of 90-degree heat, her pipes had regained their strength by Saturday. Kicking off their set with the tender “Let Me Touch You for Awhile,” the band quickly showed its range by delving into “Who’s Your Uncle?”, a rip-roaring instrumental composition from Douglas that Krauss told the crowd she’d nicknamed “Ride the Donkey.”

    “If you knew my uncle, you could call it that,” joked Douglas in reply.

    Union Station doesn’t feature a drummer, with Krauss’ rhythmic violin-tapping the closest the band gets to percussion. On Saturday, they took a plodding ballad, “Ghost in This House,” and relaxed the tempo even more. After Krauss shared an anecdote about being starstruck while singing alongside Seattle native Ann Wilson during the taping of the Heart concert special Night at Sky Church, Dan Tyminski stepped in on lead vocals for the foot-stomping “Rain Please Go Away” and the tragicomic “Wild Bill Jones,” glowering at the crowd like a territorial bulldog, no matter how sweetly he sang.

    Among the highlights of any Union Station show are Krauss’ quirky introductions of her longtime bandmates, most of whom she’s been playing with for upwards of 20 years. Introducing banjo player Ron Block, she revealed that he’s from Torrance, California, “where they like to make a lot of vegetarians, but not our Ronnie.” She later engaged in a hilariously nuanced conversation about fowl hunting with bassist Barry Bales, and remarked of Tyminski’s strange-bedfellow collaboration (“Hey Brother”) with the Swedish DJ Avicii, “We didn’t know who Avicii was. We though it was a mysterious skin growth or something.”

    After Krauss and Union Station’s short encore that included a gorgeous, a cappella version of “Down to the River to Pray,” co-headliner Willie Nelson and his family band quickly got joints blazing and toes tapping on a more earthbound kind of grass. (Kenny Chesney was simultaneously playing at a football stadium a few miles away, but the amount of shoeless feet at Marymoor doubtless had No Shoes Nation licked.) A Lone Star flag was dramatically unfurled as Nelson and his disarmingly casual crew started their set with “Whiskey River.” In stark contrast to Krauss and her collaborators, fully half of Nelson’s band consists of percussionists, with a drumline fronted by Paul English, a real-life outlaw who doubles as the group’s enforcer. Whereas Krauss and Union Station present themselves as the best musicians that could possibly have been curated for inclusion in their band, Nelson’s sidemen, while perfectly competent, appear as though they’ve been enlisted simply because the braided legend likes having them around.

    Most aging musicians who choose to stay on the road justifiably recruit younger players who compensate for whatever artistic shortcomings advanced maturation might wreak. Not Nelson. At 82, his guitar-playing remains nimble and adventurous, to the point where it could qualify as free jazz; he never plays the same solo twice, straying far from a tune’s rhythm before miraculously finding his way back to the beat.

    While Nelson’s set featured most of his classic hits, including “Always on My Mind” and “On the Road Again,” he played nearly as many covers as originals, with Mickey Raphael’s harmonica buoying Lefty Frizzell’s “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time.” Like most of his bandmates, Raphael, a tall, striking presence clad in black denim, meanders around the stage as though he’s oblivious to the thousands of faces staring back at him.

    Toward the end of the set, after Nelson introduced “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” as a “new gospel song” he’d written, two of his offspring, Micah and Amy, stepped to a microphone near their dad, slung their arms around one another and sang call-and-response backing vocals while Amy recorded the proceedings on a smartphone. At that point, attendees must have felt as though they’d crashed a raucous family party, with the coolest granddad ever leading sing-alongs on a resin-stained guitar.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/willie-nelson-alison-krauss-enchant-seattle-stage-20150629#ixzz3eUhUZGMH
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    June 29th, 2015

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