Archive for the ‘Picnic’ Category

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Willie Nelson performs a song at the 1983 Willie Nelson July 4th Picnic.Ric Feld, Associated Press

www.thesouthern.com
by: Vince Hoffard

Rain, snow and even air filled with microscopic virus particles can lead to the cancellation of outdoor music events. So can tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes, though far less frequently. The one element Mother Nature cannot threaten concert promoters with is heat.

Through the years, I’ve watched local performers and major stars melt as they battled through shows to meet contract obligations. The Southern Illinois sun can quickly bake everyone on stage, but it’s nothing compared to a blistering Texas heat wave.

In 1980, the hottest day of the year in Austin was a sweltering temperature of 105.1 on June 27, the second day of an eight-day stretch that had triple-digit heat everyday. It had been 102 on each of the first three days of July, scorching the earth at the Pedernales Country Club, located in nearby Spicewood.

In a vast vacant field next to the links, crews were putting the final touches on staging for a country music Woodstock happening the next day. The upcoming spectacle was Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, also known as “The National Event of Texas.”

The lineup included Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Faron Young, Asleep at the Wheel and many other nationally known artists. There was a definite Texas Hill Country flavor with Lone Star legends “Fiddlin’” Frenchie Burke and the Geezinslaw Brothers in the mix.

Back then, I was a 22-year-old sports reporter and country-music-lover. My passion developed as a youngster. I was mesmerized as a kid when my dad took me to the Williamson Country Fairgrounds in Marion to see Marty Robbins.

My young ears were flooded with the music of Hank Williams, George Jones and Haggard. Although he has been gone 41 years, I can still hear my father singing the opening “Put the bottle on the table” line to the Jones classic “Just One More.”

I was on the Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker bandwagon early as the outlaw movement emerged in country music during the late 1970s. Listening to “The Outlaw Hours” on WKYQ in Paducah on Friday and Saturday nights was a don’t-miss ritual.

Nelson’s annual event was the Super Bowl of outlaw country music, but attending seemed like an impossible dream. Texas was 850 miles away. However, when Nelson announced the eighth picnic in 1980 would be his last, I had to make the journey.

“It takes a lot of time,” Nelson said of his plan to discontinue the festival. “It takes six months to put together and it takes another six months to get over it.”

Joining me for the incredible trip were Larry Peterson and Billy Sands, who grew up good friends in Carbondale.

Peterson moved to Goreville and would be an assistant coach for Rich Herrin at SIU as the Salukis made a historic run through the Missouri Valley Conference. He also assisted Gary Barton in putting together the women’s basketball dynasty at John A. Logan College. He worked his way up to vice president at JALC and served as president of Shawnee Community College.

Sadly, Sands died in a car wreck shortly after our excursion.

With Texas in the grip of a historic heat wave, it was like driving into an oven. There was a traffic jam on the gravel road leading to the concert site. Hundreds of cars lined the road the night before the show. All night there were fireworks. Groups of people “keeping hydrated” would congregate every 100 feet or so. Trying to sleep in the car was futile.

Gates were supposed to open at 8 a.m., but they let people in early. It was a mad dash for the half mile to the stage, a difficult chore carrying a very large cooler. Finding a spot near the front of the 10-foot-high stage, we hunkered down for 18 hours of pure joy.

There would eventually be 60,000 fans at the venue. Some reported the crowd at 100,000. It was a crazy mix of true music fans, drunks and exhibitionists. Yes, clothing was optional.

Music was supposed to start at noon. Nelson walked on stage at 10 a.m. to survey the situation. Someone in the crowd threw him a beer. He cracked it open and took a long swig. Then, someone flipped him a joint and he took a long toke. Two hours early, he unexpectedly picked up his guitar and started playing solo. Band members Jody Payne, Mickey Raphael, Paul English, Bee Spears and sister Bobbi Nelson scrambled to joined him over the next 30 minutes.

There were countless memorable moments during the day. Icon Ernest Tubb singing “Walking the Floor Over You,” Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel bellowing out “Miles and Miles of Texas” in this setting was extraordinary, and Faron Young stopping in the middle of his performance, taking out his wallet and tossing all of his money to the crowd, was different.

A white hot-air balloon was filled at dusk, the fire inside illuminating “Honeysuckle Rose” painted in red, a major motion picture that debuted a day earlier starring Dyan Cannon, Slim Pickens and Nelson. Pickens and Cannon both performed at the picnic.

At midnight, Nelson brought on stage the local sheriff, who waived a local ordinance restricting live music after 12 a.m., and the concert raged for two more hours.

The next morning, there were hundreds of stranded attendees, who got left behind as their rides abandoned them, trying to hitchhike home. The clean-up crew made a massive 10-foot by 10-foot pyramid of surviving unopened cans of beer.

“This is the fourth beer I’ve found so far this morning,” said one straggler. “It’s like hunting Easter eggs.”

Well, Nelson was wrong about 1980 being the last picnic. The event still thrives and viewers this year will not have to battle the heat. Luck Productions will allow you to take in the show from your couch or favorite easy chair.

The COVID-19 virus has turned the 47th annual picnic into a virtual online presentation, complete with a 90-minute documentary film telling the history of the event, followed by several hours of livestream music. Shakey Graves, Asleep at the Wheel and Charley Crockett will play complete sets. A grand finale features live and taped performance by Margo Price, Robert Earl Keen, Sheryl Crow, Ray Wylie Hubbard and many more.

Tickets went on sale Monday. Advance tickets are $35 and prices increase to $45 the day of the show. For more information, visit www.williepicnic.com.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 2020 – It’s a go

Friday, June 26th, 2020

www.RollingStone.com
by: Joseph Hudak

Suzanne Cordeiro/Shutterstock

Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnic will go forward this year as a concert film that includes new livestream performances, along with interviews and archival footage from the Picnic’s nearly 50-year history.

The concert streams Saturday, July 4th, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET via luck.stream and williepicnic.com. Tickets are $35 now; and $45 on event day.

Last year’s Picnic was held at the Austin 360 Amphitheater and included performances by Luke Combs, Jamey Johnson, Hayes Carll, and Alison Krauss.

The event, headquartered at Nelson’s Luck, TX ranch in Spicewood in the Hill Country west of Austin and presented by Luck Productions, will stream live at 3:30 p.m. from luck.stream and williepicnic.com.

Unlike Nelson’s recent high-profile virtual events, such as A Night For Austin and Come and Toke It, this one won’t be free. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 day of show, via the williepicnic.com website.

Appearing along with Willie and his sons’ bands — Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and Micah Nelson’s Particle Kid — will be Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Margo Price, Shakey Graves, Ziggy Marley, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Asleep at the Wheel, Steve Earle, Kurt Vile, the McCrary Sisters, John Doe, Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen, Johnny Bush, Devon Gilfillian, Charley Crockett, the Peterson Brothers, Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent, Vincent Neil Emerson and Kinky Friedman.

Nelson and his band will perform at his Pedernales Studios facility adjacent to the Luck, TX grounds. Some artists’ sets will be livestreamed from the saloon and chapel stages at Luck, while others will tape their performances from remote locations for a 90-minute concert-film segment. A house band featuring Charlie Sexton, the Texas Gentlemen’s Beau Bedford, bassist John Michael Schoepf and drummer Josh Blue will back some of the artists. The film segment also will feature interviews and “Picnic memories,” according to the news release announcing the event..mobile.aol.com

“Our goal with the 2020 Picnic is to bring it back to what it was—in the only way we can during these times,” co-founder of Luck Productions Ellee Fletcher Durniak said in a statement. “We were set to host this year’s event at Luck, to welcome the Picnic back to its hill country home. The Picnic is really one of a kind, it has always been scrappy. Cars on fire. Mass arrests. You name it…it happened at the Picnic.”

Willie’s 4th of July Picnic livestream/concert film will benefit a number of organizations including All Together ATX, Six Square, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, SIMS Foundation and Central Texas Foodbank with one dollar from each ticket also heading to The Luck Reunion Fund.

Head here for ticket info and more.

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020
Willie Nelson

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Willie Nelson’s Picnic

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Willie Nelson and Bee Spears, Fourth of July, 2009 (South Bend, Indiana)

Sunday, July 21st, 2019
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We still miss seeing Bee standing on stage beside Willie.

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My friend Darrin Commerford took these photos on the 4th of July, in South Bend, Indiana, in 2009.

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Willie Nelson, Billy Bob’s Texas (July 4, 2012)

Sunday, July 14th, 2019
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photo: Janis Tillerson

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard on the Fourth of July (2015)

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019
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photos: Janis Tillerson

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Nothing outshines American Treasure Willie Nelson

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

www.CMT.com

Nothing outshines American treasure Willie Nelson; not even the extreme amount of pyro that ignited before he wrapped his 2019 Fourth of July Picnic & Fireworks.

Nelson and Family was the finale of the day-long event at Austin, Texas’ Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas. The annual tradition was inaugurated in 1973 with 40,000 attendees and performances by Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Hank Snow, Sonny James, Tom T. Hall, Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

Nelson and Family was the finale of the day-long event at Austin, Texas’ Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas. The annual tradition was inaugurated in 1973 with 40,000 attendees and performances by Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Hank Snow, Sonny James, Tom T. Hall, Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

The 2019 lineup featured David Allan Coe, Billy Joe Shaver, Gene Watson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Steve Earle & the Dukes, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and Luke Combs.

Enjoy scenes from Nelson’s Independence Day celebrations here.

Hayes Carl at Willie’s Picnic, (with a message from Willie and Annie)

Sunday, July 7th, 2019
Hayes Carl at Willie’s Picnic,
(with a message from Willie and Annie)

photos for Rolling Stone by: Charles Reagan Hackleman

See more photos at www.RollingStone.com

Jamie Johnson

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic was back in Austin, Texas, on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day. Alison Krauss returned for the first time since 2016, joining Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver, Steve Earle & the Dukes, and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, who made their Picnic debut. Luke Combs also performed at his first Picnic, delivering a powerful set of hits like “Beautiful Crazy,” “Hurricane” and his new single, “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at the Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas on July 4th, 2019.

Of course, it’s the Red Headed Stranger who ties it all together. The outlaw country legend offered his customary staples, from “Whiskey River” to “On the Road Again,” and also nodded to Hank Williams with “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and “Hey Good Lookin’.”

Nathaniel Rateliff

With roots dating back to Nelson’s first Independence Day bash in nearby Dripping Springs in 1973, the 46th installment of the Picnic marked its fifth year in its current home at Austin360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack outside Austin.

As Ray Wylie Hubbard told Rolling Stone backstage, “You know, all the people who play Willie’s Picnic, they all have an integrity of being songwriters, because Willie is such a great songwriter. But to be a performer [here] it kinda validates ya.”

See more photos from the 4th of July Picnic above.

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic 2019

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Nathaniel Rateliff at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 2019

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Thank you Janis Tillerson, for these great shots of Colorado’s own, Nathaniel Ratecliff, performing at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic in Austin

Fans wait for Willie Nelson in Austin (Picnic 2019)

Friday, July 5th, 2019

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

Paula Nelson and David Alan Coe at Willie’s Picnic

Thursday, July 4th, 2019