Archive for the ‘Country Throwdown’ Category
by: Preston Jones
Slather on some sunscreen and break out your most patriotic attire — Uncle Willie’s comin’ home for the holidays.
It’s been five years since Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic was last held in the Stockyards, and there will be a few new twists. For the 2011 edition, it will take place inside and outside Billy Bob’s Texas, as the headlining acts (such as Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Ray Price and David Allan Coe) perform on an outdoor main stage in Rodeo Plaza, with more music unfolding inside, on Billy Bob’s main stage.
In addition, the picnic is joining forces with the ongoing Country Throwdown tour (of which Nelson’s currently a part) to bring even more talent to the Stockyards. The picnic marks the grand finale of this year’s Country Throwdown tour. The first performer gets going at noon Monday.
“Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic is a long-standing tradition, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Country Throwdown promoter Kevin Lyman said in a statement. “We couldn’t think of a better way to end this tour than by bringing together the legendary picnic talent with the big-name artists performing throughout the Country Throwdown Tour. Billy Bob’s … is known as the World’s Largest Honky Tonk, so I can’t think of a better place to host this year’s finale.”
Given this year’s two-stage setup, it will mark the first time in the picnic’s Fort Worth history that organizers are setting a limit on the number of attendees, which will be well below 10,000, according to organizers.
“We are really excited, for us [and most of Texas], the Fourth of July is not only a time to celebrate our nation’s birthday, but it means ‘Willie’s picnic,'” says Pam Minick, marketing director for Billy Bob’s Texas.
Here are five must-see acts at this year’s shindig (excluding Nelson, because c’mon, it’s his picnic):
Jamey Johnson: The reigning trad-country king (sorry, George Strait) whose songs cut to the bone while maintaining an old-school aura. His most recent effort, last year’s double LP The Guitar Song, earned him near-universal acclaim — Allmusic.com’s Thom Jurek called it ” the country album of 2010″ — and three Grammy nominations. Expect a reverent yet rowdy crowd.
Leon Russell: This Oklahoma singer-songwriter, fresh from his triumphant 2010 tour with superstar Elton John, is once again a popular draw, just as he was in his ’70s heyday. Russell’s collaboration with John, the T Bone Burnett-produced The Union, was his best-received record in years. There should be a healthy crowd turning up to see Russell work his not quite-country, not quite-rock magic.
Randy Houser: Small world — Houser co-wrote the notoriously goofy (and wildly popular) Honky Tonk Badonkadonk with Jamey Johnson, yet has also made a name for himself as a fire-breathing throwback to the way country music used to be. The Mississippi native released a new single, In God’s Time, earlier this year, as an appetizer for his as-yet-incomplete third studio album.
Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real: Yeah, there’s a bit of nepotism in the picnic line-up (Willie’s sister Paula will also perform a set), but Lukas has done pretty well for himself without too much help from the old man. The group’s debut LP dropped at the end of 2010, so most of this year will be spent on the road, honing the eclectic tunes inspired by everything from reggae to rock.
Caitlyn Smith: Minnesota native Smith name-checks a variety of artists important to her artistic development: Patty Griffin, Alison Krauss, Wilco and Keane are just some of the folks that inspire her. Smith is part of the “Bluebird Cafe” stage, which is part of the Country Throwdown tour. It’s an area designed to highlight up-and-coming singer-songwriters; stop by throughout the day and you may just find a new favorite.
Read article here.
Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour 2011 at the Las Palmas Race Park in Mission, TX tonight has been cancelled.
Due to insufficient production capabilities at the Las Palmas Race Park, the Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour 2011 stop in Mission, Texas, today (June 30) has been canceled. We hate to disappoint enthusiastic fans, but we believe this is the only responsible action at this time. While we are currently working with the local promoter to possibly reschedule the event, ticket buyers can contact the point of purchase for refund information. Further details about any reschedule will be available at www.countrythrowdown.com.
The show scheduled for tomorrow (July 1) in Corpus Christi, Texas, at The Concrete Street Amphitheatre will go forward as scheduled, and tickets are still available for purchase for that show through Ticketmaster at
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.”
I had a great time at the Country Throwdown show when it came through Denver last week. I know I wrote about the Willie Nelson & Family a week ago, but I enjoyed the whole show. Whoever picked these artists is good at their job; wow, so much talent. Every band’s show was good. Red Rocks had the singer/songwriter tent and the Side Stage up at the top of the stairs – if you’ve been there, you know what I mean. Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Brantly Gilbert, Craig Campbell and Drake White performed upstairs. Large crowds of fans hiked up the stairs (192 of them at red rocks, but who’s counting?) Artists came on and played or sang with other bands, and the show had the feel of a travelling Willie Nelson picnic. It is a festival, with a band of travelling gypsy musicians.
The show ends its run on the Fourth of July, at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, and will help celebrate another Willie Nelson’s picnic. They will be joined by other Texas and Picnic favorites: Ray Price, Billy Joe Shaver, Leon Russell, the Paula Nelson Band, Asleep at the Wheel, David Allan Coe. If you haven’t seen this tour before the 4th, this would be a great chance to see the show. Great way to celebrate the 4th of July.
Jamie Johnson and his band performed right before Willie Nelson & Family.
Lukas Nelson sat in with Jamie Johnson
More artists have been added to the lineup for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas, in the Fort Worth Stockyards. So far, Ray Price, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnny Bush, the Paula Nelson Band, David Allan Coe, and Leon Russell have been named to join up with Willie Nelson and Family and the other artists on the current Country Throwdown Tour. The show on the 4th will be the final show on Country Throwdown Tour. The Fort Worth Stockyards hosted Willie’s Picnic in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and this year the concert will be held outside and inside of Billy Bob’s Texas.
For more information visit Billy Bob’s site HERE.
photo: Lana Nelson
by Dan Armonaitis
With a large Texas flag draped on a wall behind him, Willie Nelson trotted on stage to thunderous applause and cheers from thousands of enthusiastic fans, most of whom had enjoyed the rest of the performers but were clearly there to see the most legendary member of the bunch.
It would be a shocking revelation if the 78-year-old cultural icon left any of them disappointed.
The concert was billed as Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown, and its main draw provided just that.
From the opening strains of “Whiskey River,” which started his hour-long set, Nelson had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Throughout the night, he smiled, nodded and made a lot of eye-contact with those closest to the stage.
Once a while, he said a few words between songs. Mostly, though, Nelson just sang and picked on his trademark acoustic guitar that he calls Trigger.
The sounds weren’t just country; there were elements of everything from jazz and blues to rock and folk in his playing.
Nelson filled the set such classics as “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy,” “On the Road Again” and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” along with more recent favorites such as “Beer For My Horses” and “Superman.”
Nelson’s backing band — or the Family, as he calls them — provided perfect accompaniment with longtime member Mickey Raphael driving many of the songs with his distinctive harmonica licks. Veteran drummer Paul English, whom Nelson immortalized in his song “Me and Paul” (which he performed Friday), suffered a stroke last year and was on stage for only part of the show.
Nelson gave his actual sister Bobbie a chance to shine with a piano-driven instrumental take on “Down Yonder,” and his son Lukas, on electric guitar, provided lead vocals on a blues tune called “Texas Flood.”
Before bursting into “Good Hearted Woman,” Nelson acknowledged the late Waylon Jennings. “Let’s do one for Waylon,” he said, referring to his singing partner for the hit 1970s recording.
Later, it was, “How about some Hank Williams?” — a question answered with cheers from the approving audience. Nelson then delivered hi-octane renditions of “Jambalaya,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Move it On Over.”
The Williams trilogy was followed by the gospel standards, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away,” with the crowd joyfully singing along.
Other highlights included the psychedelic-tinged “Still is Still Moving to Me,” the hauntingly beautiful “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and pensively romantic “Always on My Mind.”
Nelson also gave a rousing blues-based rendition of Tom T. Hall’s “Shoeshine Man” early in the set, and he closed the concert with his own “Bloody Mary Morning”
Before making his exit, Nelson walked along the edge of the stage and quickly shook hands with some his adoring fans and signed a few autographs. The band reprised “I’ll Fly Away” as an instrumental sendoff.
Earlier, modern country outlaw Jamey Johnson gave a sparkling performance that showcased his ability to blend rock influences into his music without sacrificing its traditional honky-tonk roots.
Starting with his Grammy-nominated “High Cost of Living” and concluding with his Grammy-winning “In Color,” Johnson eased his way through a fantastic hour-long set that channeled Nelson, Jennings, Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck.
The bearded former Marine showed his tender side with delightful covers of such ballads as “I Love You So Much It Hurts” by Floyd Tillman and “Raining in My Heart”(best known for Buddy Holly’s orchestral version), but the audience seemed to connect better to his more rousing material.
The crowd responded very favorably to Johnson’s duet with South Carolina native Lee Brice, who performed earlier. Johnson and Brice sang Haggard’s “Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver),” overcoming a couple of lyrical mix-ups with sheer emotion.
Randy Houser and Brice performed on the main stage, kicking the festivities into high gear with turbo-charged sets that were as much electric guitar-driven Southern rock as they were country. Houser covered Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” and Brice — accompanied by side stage performer Craig Campbell — covered Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition.”
Along with Campbell, the side stage featured performances by Brantley Gilbert, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of Real and Drake White.
The Bluebird Café stage, meanwhile, emphasized acoustic singer-songwriters and included Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Dani Flowers, Adam Hood, Erin Enderlin and Caitlyn Smith — all of whom had the opportunity to play a song on the main stage.