More great Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic news! Ryan Bingham will join Willie Nelson and Family, and friends, at his Fourth of July Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas, in Fort Worth, TX.
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by: John Goodspeed
Sail a CD onto a stage packed with Texas Music, Americana and country artists and you’d be hard-pressed to hit one who doesn’t cite Willie Nelson as an influence.
While his talent and passion as a songwriter and performer are foremost, Nelson’s famed Fourth of July Picnics have been instrumental in uniting people for the love of music since 1973, when a crowd of 40,000 gathered in a field at Dripping Springs for headliners Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Tom T. Hall.
Nelson had been talking about such a festival for years, Johnny Bush who wrote one of Nelson’s signature song “Whiskey River,” recalled in an interview a few years ago.
“He broke that barrier between the redneck cowboy and the hippies. They got to passing a joint and sharing a beer, and the cowboys started wearing their hair long, and the hippies started wearing cowboy boots.
“Willie said his job is to bring people together.”
Nelson will do that again at his 41st annual Fourth of July Picnic outside Billy Bob‘s Texas in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
Forty years old at the first one, he will be 81 at the next.
“I never really realized what I was getting into or what it could turn into,” Nelson told me in 2008, adding that there is something about gathering on a hot day and listening to good music, sometimes from a variety of genres.
While not all the artists have been announced — stay tuned at www.williespicnic.com — they will include Dierks Bentley, Jason eady, Adam Hood and Bush.
Some other longtime picnic performers include David Allan Coe and Nelson’s children Paula Nelson and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.
His old friend and picnic pal, Ray Price, who made Nelson’s song “Night Life” a classic in 1963, died in December.
Here is what some artists told me about Nelson over the years:
Randy Rogers: “There’s a picture of me with a Willie Nelson drum kit when I was about 4 years old. When I was old enough to realize what music was, I knew who he was.”
Robert Earl Keen: “Willie was huge because he was the first person I could really hear. His voice for some reason got into my head. He still does.”
Aaron Wats: “Sometimes I hear one of my songs and it kind of sounds like an old Willie song, or Ray Price or Waylon. So I’m like, that’s pretty cool, because that’s what I grew up listening to.”
Kevin Fowler: “Most of the guys I admire write their own stuff, like Willie. If he didn’t write his own stuff, how would he have his own style?”
Gary Allan: “There’s no cooler crowd to play in front of than Willie Nelson’s.”
Nelson’s concert last Sunday at the Majestic Theater was postponed until Nov. 23. Fans can catch him before the Fourth of July at concerts in Austin on March 9 at the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo and March 15 at the iTunes Festival at SXSW with Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton.
John Goodspeed is a freelance writer. Email him at email@example.com.
1974 Willie Nelson’s 2nd Annual 4th Of July Picnic. Bryan/College Station, TX
Follow the Picnic on Twitter @Williespicnic
by: Sarah Wyland
Willie Nelson will once more host his Fourth of July Picnic on Friday, July 4 at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Two stages will provide entertainment from noon until well into the night. There will be also be a special VIP Tent and Sky Box, which will provide guests with a place to cool off from the summer heat.
“Beginning in 1973 in Dripping Springs, Texas, Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic has become a Texas tradition unlike any other,” said Concho Minick, President of Billy Bob’s Texas. “We are thrilled to play a part in the 41-year history of the picnic and do it in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The artist lineup and festival environment this year will be the best in Picnic history. When you see it you will agree.”
The first round of artists will be announced Monday, February 24. Early Bird General Admission tickets will go on sale Friday, February 21 at 10 a.m. at www.billybobstexas.com, www.williespicnic.com or by calling 817-624-7117.
by: Dave Thomas
Alongside old friends, in front of thousands of fans and surrounded by family and Family, Willie Nelson closed out the 40th anniversary Fourth of July Picnic last year with “I Saw The Light.” It was about 11:15 p.m. and workers were already dismantling the north stage.
A big round number, a rousing end to a long day (during which some longtime Picnic performers seemed aged and others seemed ageless) and a fine performance from our 80-year-old host. One would think it was a fitting farewell to a Texas tradition.
But it wasn’t farewell.
Willie and Billy Bob’s Texas announced today that the Picnic will return for its 41st year. The daylong outdoor concert will be held at the Fort Worth Stockyards for the fourth consecutive year and the seventh time in the Picnic’s history.
The artist lineup has not been released yet, but Concho Minick, president of Billy Bob’s Texas, said in a release “the artist lineup and festival environment will be the best in Picnic history.”
To have the best lineup in Picnic history would be an awful lot to live up to, but it’s clear that Minick and Billy Bob’s are intent on pumping some life back into an event that had slipped from iconic Texas event to just another large concert by 2011-12.
Last year’s Picnic drew close to 10,000 fans and included longtime Picnic regulars such as Billy Joe Shaver, Leon Russell and Ray Wylie Hubbard, as well as newer voices such as Ryan Bingham, Gary Allan and Justin Moore.
The event will again use the north-south stage approach in the North Forty field behind Billy Bob’s Texas. Tickets range from early bird tickets (available on Friday, before the lineup is announced) for $20, to $250 for the Sky Box seating in the middle of the field, which quickly sold out last year.
Billy Bob’s Texas said it will announce performing artists on Feb. 24 and again on April 14. More information is available at williespicnic.com