Archive for the ‘Luck, Texas’ Category

Artists on the Rise at Luck

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Congratulations to the 2020 Southwest: On The Rise to Luck participants, Gabe Lee, Ida Mae, and Jordan Moser. Music fans have the opportunity to help these Southwest Artists On The Rise earn a chance to play an opening set on the World Headquarters Stage at Luck Reunion, a music festival taking place on Willie Nelson’s Luck, TX ranch on March 19.

Play your part and tune in to these talented Artists’ hometown videos to see the inspiration they draw from where they came from. By tuning in, you can help your favorite Artist rise to the top to play Luck Reunion.

Since 2015, in partnership with Luck, our Artists On The Rise program has supported up-and-coming talent to reach new heights in their careers. Past participants of the Southwest: On The Rise to Luck program include: Katie Pruitt (2019 winning artist), Cha Wa, Madison Cunningham, Thomas Csorba (2018 winning artist) Kirby Brown, Mt. Joy, Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra, and Hugh Masterson.


Meet the artists

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Gabe Lee

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Ida Mae

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Jordan Moser

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Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion (March 19, 2020)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Ticket Information

Our annual “anti-festival” held on Willie Nelson’s “Luck, TX” property will return in 2020 for a full-day celebration of music, food, and art. The Reunion offers the one-of-a-kind opportunity to catch a 50+ artist lineup in Willie’s private backyard. Between sets, fans and artists alike enjoy craft beverages in the Saloon and surrounding bars; shop for artisan goods from a curated assortment of boutique vendors; and sample food from Austin’s famous food trucks.

LUCK, TX / Built in 1985 as the backdrop for the film “Red Headed Stranger”, Luck, TX is an old west town located in Willie Nelson’s backyard on the outskirts of Austin. The journey to Luck started in 1979 when Willie and dear friend Bill Wittliff set out to make a film version of Willie’s concept album of the same name. While the original screenplay ended with the town burning down, Nelson had grown attached to the set and called for a change in order to preserve the property. The star built his own home on the sprawling land, just a short drive up the road from the set, and Luck, Texas was born.

Beyond its fading facades, Luck became a longtime gathering place for Willie and his contemporaries to come together to shoot the shit and inspire one another through song; a sort of scaled-down extension of anti-scene Austin landmarks like Armadillo World Headquarters and Austin Opry House. 

Over the years as the bootprints from the past began to fade, Luck primarily served as Willie’s private hang: for games of poker in the “World Headquarters” building and Easter celebrations in the chapel. In 2012 a group of barstool dreamers with ties to the location set out to revive the town’s spirit with experiences inspired by its unique history.

With Nelson’s blessing, the seeds for Luck Reunion were planted. Luck Reunion – a misfit group of young believers, Nelson family members, and Willie’s personal team –  hopes to honor the creative origins of the magical space, and contribute to the all-inclusive and fascinating culture of the illustrious town.

Support Farm Aid, enter to win ticket to Willie Nelson’s Luck, TX ranch

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Dear Linda,

We’ve teamed up with Omaze to give you the chance to win a trip to meet Willie Nelson at Luck Reunion, the music festival he hosts each March in his Texas backyard! The best part: All donations support Farm Aid.

If you win, you and a friend will fly to Texas and stay in a 4-star hotel. On Wednesday night, March 18th,  you’ll kick things off with a catered dinner (called PotLuck) in Willie’s backyard, where you’ll snap a photo with him and score an autographed guitar. You’ll also enjoy a performance by Willie for a crowd so small you’ll feel like he’s singing just to you. On Thursday, March 19th, you’ll take in everything the Luck Reunion festival has to offer, including a full day of musical performances by Willie Nelson and his super talented friends.LEARN MORE AND ENTER TO WIN!

Get ready to discover awesome music, check out Austin’s best food trucks, enjoy complimentary drinks and soak in the good vibes Willie Nelson is known for. Every donation will support Farm Aid and our mission of building a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America.HANG OUT IN WILLIE’S BACKYARD. ENTER NOW!

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

photo: Jana Birchum

The Red Headed Stranger at Luck (7/6/2019)

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Thanks so much to Janis Tillerson, from Texas, for her great photos from the screening of Willie Nelson’s movie, The Red Headed Stranger, in Luck. Willie fielded questions at the screening.

Willie Nelson talks about the Red Headed Stranger

Monday, July 8th, 2019
Photo: Janis tillerson

Andy Langer acted as master of ceremony and talked with Willie Nelson and others involved in the making of the Red Headed Stranger in Luck, Texas, at the screening of movie which was filmed there on the movie set western town of Luck, on Willie’s ranch last Saturday.

Thanks, Janis from Texas, for photos and sharing stories from the event

David Anderson – associate producer – talked about what it took to keep the movie going and running out of money.

Lana Nelson – wardrobe – talked about how people on the set pulled together sometimes taking their clothing home at night and washing it because of their love for Willie.

Sonny Carl Davis – played Odie Claver talked about being hung and the bond the cast and crew had which was important part of getting the movie made.

Bryan Fowler – Nathan the kid on the farm – talked about how exciting it was to work on the movie with his grandfather

Cary White – art director -talked about the buildings and how the town developed

The Redheaded Stranger, actors and crew

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Thanks, Janis from Texas, for sharing photos of Lana Nelson, Odie Claver (Sonny in the movie) and David Anderson.

Lana and David were part of the hard working crew for The Red Headed Stranger, and spoke at the screening of the movie on Saturday in Luck. Here’s Lana on the set, as pictured in Life Magazine’s spread about the movie when it came out.

David Anderson

Sonny (Odie Claver)

Watching the red Headed Stranger with Willie Nelson

Sunday, July 7th, 2019
by: Peter Blackstock

On paper, it sounded like a pretty special event: Just outside of Austin, the Willie Nelson film “Red Headed Stranger” would be screened on the grounds of the fictional Old West town that was built for the 1985 production of the movie. And Willie would be there too, answering questions about how it all went down 30-odd years ago.

In person, it was even better. Around 400 folks paid $100 (or more for VIP passes that included a dinner reception) to be there. We talked with two fans who flew in from upstate New York solely for the occasion.

By the time general-admission gates opened at 7:30 p.m., a hot summer afternoon had begun to cool as the sun set over the serene hill-country environs of Luck, Texas, which includes a chapel, a saloon, a headquarters building and other small outposts. More than 70 horses, mostly animal rescues that Willie and his crew have brought to his ranch near Spicewood, roam the grounds along the fringes of the town.

Early arrivers checked out a mini-exhibit of artifacts from the film courtesy of the Wittliff Collections, an archival facility on the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos. Scripts and call sheets, photos of Willie with fellow cast members Morgan Fairchild and Katharine Ross, and other documents offered a preview glimpse into how “Red Headed Stranger” got made.

The only thing missing was the Collections’ namesake founder, Bill Wittliff, who wrote and directed the movie. He’d planned to be here, but his sudden death from a heart attack a month ago turned this evening into a memorial event for him, with Nelson and others involved in the film sharing their memories of his influence on their lives.

Wittliff wrote “Red Headed Stranger” with Nelson’s 1975 concept album of the same name as a guide. The album was a turning point in Willie’s career, and it’s probably also the most important record in the history of Austin music. Already an accomplished songwriter, Nelson became a household name when “Red Headed Stranger” topped the country charts.

A quarter-moon gazed upon the ten-cent town of Luck as the opening credits rolled. It’s a bit like peering through the looking glass to watch a movie on the very site where most of it was made. There’s Willie riding in on his horse past the chapel, a landmark that guests explored as they arrived on the grounds. There’s the sheriff’s office, in an outpost that on this night featured Nelson’s new “Willie’s Remedy” CBD-infused coffee on the porch. And hey, we’re sitting almost exactly where they hung Odie Claver, a son of the film’s villain. The post-screening Q&A included Sonny Carl Davis, who played Odie.

Most everything takes place in the tiny Montana town of Driscoll, but Luck and other nearby hill country locations worked well as the backdrop for a story set in the covered-wagon days of the mid-late 1800s. Nelson is riveting as Julian Shay, a preacher who arrives from Philadelphia to reform the town but soon faces his own comeuppance with the Lord.

Andy Langer of Austin City Limits Radio interviewed Willie and other principals for about 20 minutes afterward. Most of Nelson’s comments were brief, but he was a fountain of colorful one-liners.

Asked what it was like watching himself onscreen a few minutes earlier, he replied: “I was thinking, who was that old bastard?” On the Luck chapel: “It’s a real church. We hold service out there, and weddings. I don’t think we’ve had any divorces there yet.” On other activities at his ranch: “There’s a golf course if I feel like swingin’ hard and missing it. There’s plenty of horses to ride, or steal, whatever you want.” On acting: “I never thought of myself as an actor. I react a lot.”

The Q&A also touched upon how “Red Headed Stranger” initially was going to be a much bigger production, with Robert Redford in the lead role — until “he chickened out of it,” Nelson cracked.

With Redford, “Red Headed Stranger” might have gotten a lot more attention than it did in its limited 1986 theatrical run. Much like it was transcendent when Alison Krauss sang Nelson’s ballad “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” at Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic two days earlier, Redford’s consummate skill could have made for onscreen magic.

But just as Nelson’s own version of “Angel” at the Picnic a few hours later offered the definitive rendition from the songwriter himself, his performance as the Preacher became the movie’s indelible signature. Mulling it over, Nelson remembered that a colleague on a subsequent film, “Honeysuckle Rose,” once put it this way: “Willie plays himself better than anybody.”

Saturday’s screening was announced as the inaugural event of a new Luck Cinema series. No other movies are currently scheduled, but if this first go-round is any indication, this could become one of the most popular movie outings in Central Texas whenever follow-up films are booked.

MORE FROM WILLIE’S PICNIC: Austin360 A-List photo gallery

Dinner and a Movie at Luck

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Special night at Luck, Texas tonight, a special screening of Willie Nelson’s, “Red Headed Stranger”, at the western town movie set built for the movie on Willie Nelson’s Ranch in Texas. Guests were treated to a special dinner before the movie.

Thanks to Janis Tillerson for sharing photos from tonight’s dinner and a movie.

Rolling Roadshow and Luck Productions are joining forces to present Luck Cinema, a film screening series in Luck, TX. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Willie Nelson’s Hill Country ranch in Luck, TX for a starlit screening of Willie’s classic 1985 Western RED HEADED STRANGER.

You’ll get the Willieville VIP experience – airfare and accommodations for two in Austin, an intimate 50-person dinner hosted by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance prepared by award-winning chef Jesse Griffiths, and a special “front porch” Q&A with Willie and the film’s key players held on the film’s set.

A postcard at every setting.

Getting ready for the Red Headed Stranger in Luck

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Here’s the big screen for the out-door showing of “Red Headed Stranger” in Luck, Texas, and the chairs where fans will sit after dinner.

Thanks, Janis from Texas for sharing photos from the setup for tonight’s dinner and a movie night with Willie Nelson, sponsored by Luck Productions and Rolling Roadshow.

Enter to win — Once In A Lifetime Chance to hang at Willie Nelson’s Luck, Texas and watch Red Headed Stranger

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

Enter contest here.

Rolling Roadshow and Luck Productions are joining forces to present Luck Cinema, a film screening series in Luck, TX. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Willie Nelson’s Hill Country ranch in Luck, TX for a starlit screening of Willie’s classic 1985 Western RED HEADED STRANGER.

You’ll get the Willieville VIP experience – airfare and accommodations for two in Austin, an intimate 50-person dinner hosted by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance prepared by award-winning chef Jesse Griffiths, and a special “front porch” Q&A with Willie and the film’s key players held on the film’s set.

Here’s the full prize package:

  • VIP tickets to Luck Cinema’s screening and dinner at Willie Nelson’s Luck, TX ranch
  • Hotel accommodations for one night
  • Airfare to Austin, TX

See Red Headed Stranger Movie, Meet Willie Nelson in Luck, Texas (July 6, 2019)

Thursday, June 20th, 2019
by: Reid Jowers

The Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow and Luck Productions announced they are teaming up to host a screening of Willie Nelson’s Western Red Headed Stranger on Saturday, July 6.

The screening will take place in Luck, Texas (1100 Bee Creek Rd, Spicewood), aka “Willieville,” the town built in 1983 specifically for the movie. Luck sits proudly on the grounds of Willie’s ranch and rarely hosts events outside of the Luck Reunion that happens every year as counter-programming to SXSW.

Red Headed Stranger follows the story of Willie’s 1975 album of the same name, where Nelson plays the role of a preacher seeking revenge on a man for taking off with his wife played by Morgan Fairchild. The Austin Genre Film Archive remastered the movie digitally for the first time after two decades of the original print being lost.

After the screening, fans will get the chance to meet Willie and other key players of the movie for a Q&A. Memorabilia from the the movie will also be on display courtesy of the Wittliff Collections. The writer/directer of Red Headed Stranger, Bill Wittliff (who founded the collections with his wife, Sally), recently passed away.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, June 20. General admission costs $100, or all-inclusive tickets for $350 include a pre-screening dinner hosted by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance and cooked by Dai Due chef Jesse Griffiths. That meal will be capped at 50 people, so Willie superfans only need apply.

See Willie Nelson in “Red Headed Stranger” on original movie set in Luck, Texas (Saturday, July 6, 2019)

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Luck Cinema presents Willie Nelson in Red Headed Stranger on original movie set in Luck, Texas (Saturday, July 6, 2019)

Rolling Roadshow and Luck Productions are joining forces to present Luck Cinema, a film screening series in Luck, TX.

This summer Luck Cinema will make its mark with an unforgettable kickoff event: a starlit screening of the Red Headed Stranger held on the original film set, featuring an in-person Q&A with the movie’s star, Willie Nelson and special guests from the film.

The event will take place on Saturday, July 6 at Nelson’s Luck, TX ranch just outside of Austin.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, June 20 at 10:00 AM.

Guests will be treated to the first-ever digital presentation of the recently resurfaced classic western, showcased on Rolling Roadshow’s projector screen situated in the middle of the Luck, TX property where the movie was filmed.

Prior to the screening, Austin Food & Wine Alliance will host an intimate, 50-person dinner prepared by award-winning chef Jesse Griffiths of Austin’s celebrated Dai Due restaurant, a heralded culinary figure and the recipient of the 2018 Austin Food & Wine grant in participation with Luck Reunion.

Following a painstaking search for the original film, nearly 20 years after its last official screening, Luck Productions and Rolling Roadshow found the original tape, bringing in American Genre Film Archive to digitize the Red Headed Stranger for the film’s first showing in digital form.

The theme of the Luck Cinema launch event is fitting as Red Headed Stranger is Luck, TX’s raison d’etre. Luck was built in 1986 as the set for the film and, when the script called for the town to burn down, Nelson–the Red Headed Stranger himself–requested a change in the storyline, simply to preserve the old western town he calls his own to this day.

Based on Nelson’s 1975 concept album of the same name, Red Headed Stranger the film tells the story of a scorned preacher seeking revenge on his wife and the man she left him for. Having successfully shopped the film version to Universal Studios in 1979, Nelson and the late Bill Wittliff–the movie’s screenwriter and director–were later turned down when the studio’s perspective star, Robert Redford, rejected the offer.

Wittliff and Nelson then set out to fund the film on their own; casting Willie as the Red Headed Stranger and employing a team of friends and family to make the film happen.

The Luck Cinema screening event will bring the “Stranger” himself back to the set to discuss the untold stories behind the movie, and its set which he now calls home. 

Outside of the popular annual Luck Reunion festival, the first Luck Cinema event provides the unique opportunity to experience Nelson’s “Luck, TX” property firsthand. In addition to the screening itself, fans will be able to view exclusive memorabilia provided by the Wittliff Collections–founded by Bill Wittliff and his wife, Sally.

Archival items from Wittliff’s collection will be exhibited throughout the site; providing a deeper understanding of the unique history of the film, the story of the characters involved, and a look back at the beginnings of what “Luck, TX” is today.

The team is also partnering with the Texas Film Commission who will be onsite discussing the film itself in addition to speaking about Texas’ film industry. Tickets for the Red Headed Stranger screening will be available for $100. All-inclusive tickets including access to both the Austin Food & Wine dinner and film are available for $350.

All tickets go on sale Thursday, June 20 at 10:00 AM at

On February 19, 1987, Willie Nelson’s movie, the “Red Headed Stranger” premieres in Austin, Texas. Among those attending: Morgan Fairchild, Floyd Tillman and coach Darrell Royal.


Willie Nelson was asked about the violence in the movie, and about his character killing two women:

“If you like the song, the violence is there,” he says. “You can’t take out violence anymore than you can take evil out of books. It’s all part of life.” Adds Nelson, “This movie covers a lot of territory — from spiritualism to lust — and takes a man all the way to the bottom and back to the top. It does it to a preacher — which is a little bit unusual.”

Life Magazine August 1987 article by: Cheryl McCall

Making a movie of Red Headed Stranger, his 1975 chart-topping country album, was a powerful obsession that wouldn’t let go. From the beginning, its story of love and violence in the Old West was unfolding as a movie in his mind, says Willie Nelson.

He dreamed of portraying the preacher-turned-killer on-screen. Universal Studios optioned Red Headed Stranger but eventually let it slip into “turnaround” — Hollywood limbo. So Nelson acquired the rights and spent the next five years shopping for financing. With fellow Texan Bill Wittliff – screenwriter and co producer of Country, Raggedy Man and Barbarossa — Nelson plunged into the risky business of doing their own producing.

Despite the pleading of his wife, Connie, Nelson stubbornly mortgaged property to raise $1 million for the 1879-style wardrobe, props and three Western sets. Friends and neighbors pitched in. Towns were built on land adjoining his private golf course outside Austin, turning the place into a studio back lot. Wittliff virtually ignored his book publishing business, Encino Press, to take on the chore of writing, co-producing and directing. Together, Wittliff and Nelson assembled a crew and pruned more than $11 million from Universal’s original $13.5 million budget.


Willie Nelson sprays on a little water as he and Morgan Farichild head west. Says the TV acress, “My character just doesn’t have the pioneer spirit.”


As preacher Julian Shay, Willie Nelson sobers up a besotted sheriff, played by R. G. Armstrong in a scene that both enjoyed in the scorching Texas heat.

They signed a native Texas, Morgan Fairchild, to play the preacher’s faithless wife and Katharine Ross (star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), 43, as his salvation. The actresses agreed to defer half of their fees. As the cameras rolled, LIFE went on location with Red Headed Stranger.


“If Willie Nelson is going to kill a woman, anyone in America would forgive him for killing Morgan Fairchild in this movie,” — Morgan Fairchild


“In a funny kind of way, I just simply stepped into Willie’s dream,” says director Bill Wittliff. “It’s become an obsession for me, too. I couldn’t walk away from it.” The writer fleshed out the record album’s story of stern frontier morality with a script that explores the theme of love lost and regained against a backdrop of sin and redemption. The preacher saves a derelict town from spiritual squalor but pays a terrible price — everything he cherishes in life. By the time his rage is spent, a dozen people are dead. Nelson says he’s not the least contrite about killing two women in this film. Stranger” premieres in Austin, Texas. Among those attending: Morgan Fairchild, Floyd Tillman and coach Darrell Royal.



“If you like the song, the violence is there,” he says. “You can’t take out violence anymore than you can take evil out of books. It’s all part of life.” Adds Nelson, “This movie covers a lot of territory — from spiritualism to lust — and takes a man all the way to the bottom and back to the top. It does it to a preacher — which is a little bit unusual.”

Also unorthodox is the casting of Nelson’s grandson, his band’s drummer, the bass player and a bodyguard in speaking roles. Says Wittliff, “It’s really a homegrown deal. We pulled people off the sidewalk, from restaurants, stores or wherever we spotted them for this.” His Encino Press assistant, Connie Todd, put aside her publishing duties to audition more than 350 local folks. “When we found someone with a spark, we’d work with him or her for several hours,” says Wittliff. The creative gamble has paid off with lively performances from an Austin security guard, a waitress and a computer programmer.

It’s a measure of the loyalty Nelson inspires that his cast and crew are willing to endure 14-hour days on a location as hot and fly-ridden as Calcutta. What’s more, they are remarkably cheerful about it. Explains bit player Bo Franks, a cohort and gun collector, “I’m doing this for free. Everybody is here because they want to be part of Willie’s dream. We’re busting our butts because we wouldn’t think of letting him down.” From the Austin hatter who made and donated dozens of period hats to the realtor who lent a 19th century water drilling rig, friends contributed what they could. img029

Says his daughter Lana, ‘Daddy has set such a good example for everyone that you don’t want to be the one to goof it up.”

As the end of the shooting approaches, day drags into night and exhaustion and tension mount. Mistakes are made, lines misbelieved, and the horses — spooked by gunfire — are edgy.

The only uncooperative member of the cast during the whole 39 days of shooting was a balky pony. “Willie, we got a problem here,” crackled a walkie-talkie. “The horse wants to know what his motivation is for pulling the plow.”

Nelson drinks cups of coffee and cracks jokes. Scenes are repeated until all the angles have been filmed. At 5:30 a.m., they break. Twelve hours later, after filming the preacher and the wife traveling west in a covered wagon, Wittliff and Nelson say the magic words, “That’s a wrap!”

The film opens next month, with Willie Nelson singing Red-Headed Stranger songs throughout his movie.


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Willie and Paula Nelson

Monday, April 15th, 2019

Paula Nelson hosted the sneak preview listening party for Willie Nelson’s new album, “Ride Me Back Home”, for Sirius/XM Radio