Archive for the ‘Picnic’ Category

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic in Austin (7/4/2017)

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic (South Bend, IN) (2009)

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 2017

Monday, May 15th, 2017


For ticket information:

Tickets on Sale to Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Tickets to Willie Nelson’s 2017 Fourth of July Picnic on Sale Now

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Tickets on sale to Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Austin

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July PIcnic Concert in Austin 2017

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Tickets for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic are open to the public starting at 10 a.m. on April 21. It’s the third year for the annual event to be held at the Circuit of the Americas and the 44th edition of the picnic overall.

This year’s all-day event features performances from artists on two stages, including Willie Nelson & Family, Sheryl Crow, Kacey Musgraves, Jamey Johnson, Steve Earle, Margo Price, Asleep At The Wheel, Turnpike Troubadours, Hayes Carll, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Bush, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe, Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real, Insects vs. Robots, Raelyn Nelson Band, Folk Uke.

Tickets are priced at $89.50 for the GA Pit Section and Reserved Seat Section in front of the stage. Reserved bowl tickets are $69.50-$89.50 and $39.50 for H-E-B General Admission Lawn. There are also a limited number of special VIP packages available for sale including the “Outlaw” hospitality package for $350, the “Trigger” package for $450, and “Shotgun” hospitality for $550.

All tickets will be available at,, all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Texas, or they can be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Standard parking lots at Circuit of The Americas open at 10 a.m. and gates to the Austin360 Amphitheater will open at 11:00 a.m. Standard Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Premium Parking, Bus Parking, RV Parking, as well as campsites are also available for purchase at the time tickets are purchased.

Live Nation, C3 Presents and Circuit of The Americas (COTA) are proud to announce the return of Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic to Circuit of The Americas. The legendary Willie Nelson plays host to one of America’s most celebrated festivals, and the 4th of July Picnic returns to COTA for the third year. Joining Willie at this year’s party is a star-studded cavalcade of his friends.

Ticket and pre-sale information here.  

Paul English at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic (2016)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017


photo:  Janis Tillerson

Willie Nelson and the Grateful Dead

Monday, February 20th, 2017


Phil Lesh, of the Grateful Dead, talks about the Dead’s connection with Willie Nelson:

Austin Chronicle: For casual observers, the pairing of the Dead and Willie Nelson probably seems odd, but you go back some ways; you did the first Farm Aid via satellite in ’86. When did you first cross paths?

Phil Lesh: I met Willie a couple years ago when we did some gigs together. We visited him on his bus, and he, um [laughs], gave me a copy of his new record and played a couple cuts with me. It was a wonderful get-together. We’ve been doing gigs pretty much every year since, either with my band or with the Dead. So he’s kind of a natural for anything we do. He’s so American, you know, in the finest sense.

AC: Willie’s 70 and still “On the Road Again.” You’re 63; can you see yourself still “Truckin'” in seven years?

PL: Oh yeah, probably. It’s not the kind of thing you want to stop doing, because it really is life enhancing  the playing, that is, not necessarily the touring and traveling. I would hope that I’d be able to cut back a bit in the next seven years, but I’d never want to quit entirely, because taking the music to different people and different places is part of the experience. That’s the payoff.

AC: Any chance of a Willie/Dead duet in Austin?

PL: We’re hoping that can happen. Willie’s going to be opening for the Dead for about a week before that, and I’ve hoped for a long time to hear Willie sing with us, and do some of Jerry’s classic songs like “Stella Blue” or “Comes a Time.”

AC: You mentioned you’ve been on Willie’s bus, which is legendary for the amount of potent smoke on it. Can you confirm that?

PL: They had to turn me around a couple of times before I knew which way to get off. So yeah, it was like going to another world [laughs]. A very, very harmonious and congenial world, of course.

Here was a Fourth of July to Remember  (2003):


Willie Nelson
The Dead
Merle Haggard
Toby Keith
Pat Green
Ray Price
Kimmie Rhodes
South Austin Jug Band
Johnny Bush
The Geezinslaws
Bells of Joy

Willie Nelson
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Patty Griffin
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Cross Canadian Ragweed
Billy Joe Shaver
Del Castillo
Shawn Colvin
Los Lonely Boys
Cory Morrow
Billy Bob Thornton
Paula Nelson
Matt Powell
Titty Bingo
Pauline Reese
The Jeff Haney Band
Waylon Payne Â

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic (The Gorge) (2007)

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016


Willie Nelson invited fans to celebrate the fourth of July at the Gorge, in George, Washington in 2007. Janis and I went.  It was a beautiful venue, but so hot — even with the river winding below.

“Willie Nelson Picnic Posters and Picnic History,” a Dave Thomas Guide

Thursday, November 10th, 2016


I’m happy to have a copy of Dave Thomas’ history of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnics and  learning more about Willie’s annual summer music celebrations.  He really brings the picnic to life with stories and pictures of posters from the past 40 plus years.  It brings back great memories for fans lucky enough to be there,and enjoyable  for new fans just learning about the Picnics.  It’s  an amazing list of artists that have played the event over the years.   Some of the picnic posters are very  rare.

PREFERRED*** Alicia Mireles/ Austin American-Statesman 04/30/08 Mug of staffer Dave Thomas for a blog.

“About halfway between attending my first Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic in 1995 and my 17th in 2015, I became obsessed with chronicling the history of Willie’s Picnic and collecting Picnic posters.”

— Dave Thomas

I’ve been following Dave Thomas’ year-by-year  reports on Willie Nelson’s picnic concerts for years in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.  Each year the paper’s music blog publish a slideshow with Dave’s collections and stories about the Picnic’s history.  In his new book, he includes pictures of posters, along with a brief story about each year’s picnic.  It’s very informative and fun to read.  You will learn a lot, even if you’ve been to lots of picnics or if you have never been and are a fan of Texas music.


There is an extra section on Steve Brooks, a Dallas artist known for his work with Willie Nelson & Family in the 1980’s.  Steve designed many concert posters, as well as holiday posters.  Dave’s book includes some of Steve’s artwork and puzzles portraying Willie’s 4th of July picnic, too.

This book’s a great gift – for another fan, or for yourself.

You can get your copy here.

Or if you don’t like e-bay, you can e-mail Dave Thomas and make another arrangement, at


Image result for dave Thomas willie nelson's picnic poster book


Fun with Billy Joe Shaver at a Willie Nelson concert

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016


Billy Joe Shaver and me, at Billy Bob’s Fort Worth

Willie Nelson, Fourth of July 2016 (Austin)

Sunday, August 14th, 2016


photos:  thanks to Janis Tillerson


Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic 1998 (Luckenbach, Texas)

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic 1998 (Highlights Vol.1) recorded in Luckenbach, Texas. Artists include Willie Nelson, Bells of Joy, Doc Mason, Larry Butler, Jimmy Lee Jones, the Fryed Brothers, Ronnie Dawson, Steve Fromholz, Billy Joe Shaver, Paula Nelson, Jack Ingram, 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Alvin Crow, Craig Gillingham, and Bad Rodeo.

Produced by the Austin History Center in cooperation with AMN.

Ten Things Dave Thomas Learned at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic 2016

Thursday, July 7th, 2016


After 18 picnics, journalist Dave Thomas is still learning things at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnics. He recently published a book of posters and history of the picnic, if you want to know other things he has learned!

1. Better than 2015: On their second Picnic, I have to give thumbs up to the Circuit of The Americas and the Austin 360 Amphitheater on their growth as a host. I’m impressed by their decision to install “water monsters” around the facility to provide free and cool drinking water to patrons. (I always thought it was downright criminal for venues to host an event on the Fourth of July in Texas, then only offer water at $3-$4 a bottle.) Allowing us to bring in a small amount of food was a good move (I only had to buy one terrible $12 burger in my 11 hours). And while there was still an annoying amount of dead time between sets on the main stage for those of us who were spoiled by the Fort Worth Picnics, running the Plaza stage longer and the timing of the fireworks display helped keep it from being exasperating. One smart move didn’t quite work out: The “misting tent” was less of a cooling off spot for the masses than it was a de-facto VIP lounge for early arrivals. Not sure that was what they meant to happen.

2. No big discoveries: This was my 18th Picnic, and Lord knows I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t love to see Willie Nelson and Picnic regulars Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Bush and Billy Joe Shaver. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t mind hearing “Whiskey River” four times in one day or “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” 18 Picnics in a row. But the thrill of every Picnic is discovering something new or seeing a legend for the first time. There was no transcendent moment this year like watching Kris Kristofferson intently watching Sturgill Simpson or seeing Charley Pride work the crowd.

So I’ll have to say this year’s highlight was newest Picnic regular Jamey Johnson appearing with Alison Krauss. Krauss softened Johnson’s often-prickly demeanor and they put on a great show together. I’ll even say Johnson sang his hit “In Color” with such conviction and depth that it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

3. Love for a legend: Was astounded again by Austin’s love for Kris Kristofferson, whose show was all heart but … well, he struggled a lot. He eased through some hits, but on others — particularly “The Law is For The Protection of The People” — his voice nearly gave out completely. This year’s Picnic included a trio of octogenarians (Willie, Bush, Kristofferson), and after the passing of Ray Price and Merle Haggard, Picnic fans have learned to appreciate every moment with the legends. Willie wouldn’t approve of me saying it, but you never know when it’s going to be the last performance … or last Picnic.

4. Fans of all sorts: A small scene from the Picnic

5. Definitely over it: There are a couple things, however, that we need to have seen the last of. First is Kinky Friedman as terrible emcee. Fellow I know said he was ready to strangle Friedman as he dawdled over his introduction of Jamey Johnson with another lame politics joke (yes, the “Kinky-Johnson” ticket, I get it, ha ha) then had to hurry back out to the mike to add “and Alison Krauss.” Friedman has the talent to do a good job as emcee, but instead we got more of his look-at-me-make-something-up shtick.

REVIEW: Willie Nelson’s Picnic survives the heat for a festive Fourth

6. Even worse: Second, is Shaver’s “That’s What She Said Last Night,” a song he’s introduced before as “the worst song” he’s ever written — and he’s right by a country mile. He’s trotted that song at Picnics dating back a decade and man, it’s time to give it up. More unfunny than offensive (though both at times), the cell phone-as-metaphor-for-manhood joke song has long since run its course. 

7. Don’t mess with Willie: Was surprised to see Jamey Johnson and Krauss close with “I Saw The Light.” Traditionally that song has been what Willie closes the show with, bringing out all the remaining performers to sing along with him. Johnson should know, he’s been there with him. But Willie didn’t bring out the usual suspects for the finale this year. We got a reprise of “Whiskey River” to end the Picnic.

Brantley Gilbert performs at the 43rd Annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 4, 2016 in Austin, Texas. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Brantley Gilbert performs at the 43rd Annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 4, 2016 in Austin, Texas. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

8. Brantley Gilbert. The kind of fellow who has an urban-camo-gray guitar with the U.S. flag on the front and the Confederate Stars and Bars on the back. Cute. The kind of fellow who has an intro video with chopper sound effects and a smoke machine on the stage. Hey, I hear Willie has a smoke machine, too. But he doesn’t bring it on stage. I’m pretty sure Gilbert opened with “Ghwgggrhrghgggggfjffggggggggr.” Or at least that was the best I could make out amid the noise. 

Am I being too hard on Gilbert? He obviously was on the bill to sell tickets to people who weren’t already there for Johnny Bush and Ray Wylie Hubbard. And he is excellent at the southern rock / bro-country / preen-and-tough-guy-pose thing that he does. It’s just hard to take the tough-guy thing seriously when you know the history of the Picnic. Who you got, Gilbert or Waylon? Gilbert or David Allan Coe? What would Gilbert say to 1975-era Paul English? Gilbert and his muscle shirt and brass knuckles took the stage about 6 hours after a guy who shot a man in the face just a few years ago. And I still wouldn’t bet against Billy Joe Shaver.

But Gilbert dialed it back after the first few numbers to give us some songs we could hear the words to and offered enough spectacle that his hourlong set went by pretty quickly. In all it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

9. How times have changed: The 1995-1999 Picnics in Luckenbach were less of a redneck-meet-hippie thing and more of a college kids-meet-old hippie thing. And for a lonely 20-something reporter, the fans at those Picnics were a sight to behold. It’s not something I should probably mention now, but after spending dawn to midnight at those shows, you could close your eyes and still see Texas flag bikinis everywheres. These days the Picnic is much more of a middle-age thing, and so am I. After reporting all day, most of it via Twitter on my phone, when I closed my eyes about 2 a.m. on July 5th, I dreamed of Tweets. No, I dreamed in Tweets. It was very weird.

10. Next year? Will there be a 44th Annual Fourth of July Picnic? When I interviewed Willie at the 2006 Picnic, I asked him how long it might continue — thinking that we were already at the end. Willie’s answer has always been “as long as they’re still fun.” Short answer is, as long as Willie is still around, there’s a good chance there will be a Picnic. Or not. Who knows?

If there is one, I’m still saying we need to have a Waylon Jennings hologram (or at least find a way to show Waylon footage from the 1979 Picnic movie) and we need to have Loretta Lynn. The Picnic has been a boys’ club for far too long. Let’s include some legendary women.

But let’s keep a few traditions …

Read entire article, see more photos and videos here:
10 Things I Learned at Willie Nelson’s 2016 Fourth of July Picnic