See more photos from the Ontario, California show at
by: Josh Friedman
Willie Nelson capped off a country music festival for the ages Saturday at Pozo Saloon.
Thought to be the largest single-day concert in San Luis Obispo County history, Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown featured 16 artists spanning eight hours and three different stages.
Country artists and fans from across the nation packed Pozo, arriving in tour buses, RVs and motorcycles. A military motorcycle ride from Atascadero to Pozo even included two of the performing artists, Randy Houser and Craig Campbell.
The Throwdown performers, who have now been on tour for a month, were delighted to take their talents to Pozo, a renowned setting in the world of country music.
Alabama native singer-songwriter Drake White, who kicked off the festivities with a 3 p.m. performance, raved about the Pozo Saloon.
“I love the venue,” White said. “I love being in the middle of nowhere.”
White also expressed great admiration for Willie Nelson and appreciation for the country legend’s choice of artists accompanying him on tour.
“It’s like he hand picked us, but he doesn’t really know us,” White said.
After White’s opening act, the crowd shifted to the Blue Bird Café Tent and performances rotated between three stages for the following three hours.
Brent Cobb, part of the opening country quartet at the Bluebird Café Tent, shared White’s sentiments about Nelson and the gang.
“Being with Willie, I think for everyone, is a dream come true,” Cobb said. “He’s the only artist that I didn’t already know before the tour, so being out here is like being with a bunch of friends on the road playing music.”
The main stage performance began just shy of 5:30 p.m. with up-and-coming country sensation Lee Brice, another Southerner enthused about taking the stage at Pozo Saloon.
“I got tot talk to the lady who owns this,” Brice said. It’s so cool she brings all these people out here to this backyard. It feels like a mixture of Texas and California.”
Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson followed Brice’s act, leading up to Willie Nelson finally taking the stage at 9:20 p.m.
Nelson opened with “Whiskey River” and pleased the crowd with favorites such as, “On the Road Again”, “Always on My Mind” and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”.
Willie’s son, Lukas Nelson, who performed earlier in the day, joined his father mid-act.
Upon conclusion of the concert, the elder Nelson greeted select fans backstage.
Nelson, now 78, told Cal Coast News he does not know what keeps him going. But, the country legend declared, “I never stop.”