Archive for the ‘Picnic’ Category

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic (1986)

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Wagner’s Time Off
The Leisure magazine for Professional Painters
Summer 1986
Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic
by David Standish

Picture this:  It’s the Fourth of July and deep in the heart of Texas a crowd of 15,000 has braved the sweltering heat to attend a picnic.  But then this is a picnic with star power — Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, a weekend-long festival featuring the biggest names on the country music charts.  It’s a laid-back affair:  People come bearing coolers, spread their blankets, pop open a frosty, and stomp their feet all day to country tunes.  It’s probably the most American thing to do on this most American of days.

There’s a rumor that this year’s picnic will be titled Farm Aid II, and that the money raised will be distributed to needy farmers (much as it was after the original Farm Aid).  Whatever larger meaning it takes on, however, the event will still be, first and foremost, a picnic presenting no less than 36 hours of traditional and progressive country music.  Past programs have included Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Buffet, Asleep at the Wheel, Merle Haggard, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, Leon Russell, Michael Murphey, Waylon Jennings, and, of course, Willie Nelson.  This year’s lineup, which won’t be announced until just days before the event, is sure to include many of these stars.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Willie for Playboy magazine, and he explained that the picnic got its start in 1972 at the First Annual Dripping Springs Reunion held in Dripping Springs, Texas, on Willie’s birthday.  “Everybody was there,” remembered Nelson.  “Roy Acuff, Tex Ritter, Roger Miller, Merle Haggard.  Over a three-day period there were probably forty or fifty acts.  It was the best country music, the best show, and the best sound that anybody in that area had ever heard.  But for some reason the crowds weren’t large and the promoters lost a lot of money.”

“But it was still a good idea, and the location was a good idea, so I did the same thing the next year — only I did it on the Fourth of July because I knew it would be hot.  I knew we were bringing together a lot of hippies and a lot of rednecks, and I wanted it to be hot… too hot to fight.”

“I also wanted it to be the kind of time where everyone was gonna drink beer… as long as we had the heat there to.. keep down energy levels.  Throw out a blanket on the ground, open up a case of beer, and enjoy the show.  We had Charlie Rich, Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell, Asleep at the Wheel, us…  It was really a picnic.  That was the atmosphere I wanted to create, that of a picnic with entertainment.

And he’s done it year after year.

The picnic my wife Carol and I went to was hotter than hell and just great.  It took place at a former country club (which Willie owns) few miles outside of Austin.  The site was lovely, with rolling oak-crested hills, and it overlooked Lake Travis, a tranquil section of the much-dammed Colorado River.  It was a setting that dispelled any prejudices about Texas being ugly, dusty, and flat.

A festival-style stage had been built across the top of a hill on the golf course, and the crowd spilled down the hillside, over a fairway and a couple of greens.  It was a big crowd.  Over 15,000 people were packed onto the golf course and, while they were generally friendly, the grounds were torn and trampled at the end of the weekend.  (One reason Willie’s picnics are rarely held at the same site from year to year is the mess they leave behind.  Willie’s country club, where the picnic was held several summers in a row, became off-limits when residents of the area complained.)

The weekend presented a nonstop lineup of country stars, but the best of them were Willie & Family, a band of longtime friends that includes drummer Paul English, bassists Chris Ehtridge and Bee Spears, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and guitarists Grady Martin and Jody Payne.  The group is occasionally joined by Willie’s sister Bobbie on piano.  They pose as a country-rock group, but they’re really a fine jazz band playing in a country mode, probably the best performing band of it’s kind since Duke Ellington quit the dance hall circuit — like Ellington and the other great ones, their music changes every night.  Willie and Family played a long, pleasing morning set, and then closed the show that evening. It’s worth staying for both sets, if you can stand the three-digit heat.

And it is all day singin’ and picnicking on the ground.  The day gets rolling around 10 a.m.  Musicians play for 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes joining other bands later in the day. Forty or 50 acts are scheduled for the weekend.  Vendors sell beer and soda, as well as hot dogs, chips, and simple sandwiches, but most picnickers bring their own food and drink.  Because its so hot, medics are on hand to dispense  free salt tablets — every year, a number of people pass out from dehydration.  Many others suffer severe sunburn.  But Willie’s theory about the heat does seem to work.  The year I went everybody seemed to get along just fine.

Willie’s picnic was the most fun Carol and I had had in a long time.  But we did come up with a few parting tips to ensure that other first-time picnickers will enjoy Willie’s party, too.

— Take a good sun-shading had and a long-sleeved shirt.  The sun is so strong it’s possible to get sunburned through thin cotton shirts, so bring a heavy one.

— Bring a plastic jug full of ice water.

— Be prepared for no shade.  However cumbersome, toting along a beach umbrella is a good idea.

— Finally, don’t forget the essentials:  a quilt or blanket to stretch out on, and a cooler full of your favorite refreshment.

Basically, it’s like getting ready for a nice long day at the beach — except the music at the beach was never so good.

Friday, July 6th, 2018

photo:  Gary Miller

Rep Beto O’Rourke on stage with Willie Nelson

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Willie Nelson Guitar Pick of the Day: Willie Nelson’s Picnic 2018

Thursday, July 5th, 2018


TOMORROW. BE THERE #willieandfamilylive #williespicnic2018 #williespicnic #sturgillsimpson @willienelsonofficial @lukasnelsonofficial @sturgillsimpsonofficial @ryanbingham_official #headandtheheart @theheadandtheheart #raywyliehubbard @raywylie #margoprice @missmargoprice #ryanbingham #lukasnelsonandpromiseofthereal #particlekid @particlekid #guitarpicks #plectrums #billyjoeshaver @ednewbohemians #folkuke @folkuke #jamestownrevival #davidallancoe #genewatson #johnnybush @asleepatthewheel1970 #yellowfeather @raelynnelsonband

Thanks, Budrock “The Illuminator”, for pictures of this year’s picnic picks.

Ryan Bingham with Beto O’Rourke and wife Amy, at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

ryanbingham_officialGreat to meet @betoorourke and his wife Amy at Willie’s picnic last night and hear Beto speak about his vision for Texas #4thofjuly #GoBeto

Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

#happy4thofjuly ?? ?: @rauffer

A post shared by Lukas Nelson + POTR (@lukasnelsonofficial) on

Raelynn Nelson at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 2018

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

A post shared by raelynnelson (@raelynnelson) on

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, photos by Gary Miller

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

PHOTOS: Scenes from Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic

Thanks Gary Miller for great photos from Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic.

See more of Gary’s great photos here.

Photos from Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic by Scott Moore

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Photos by Scott Moore in

See more of Scott Moore’s great photos here.

Texas Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke plays Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic in Austin

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

  • photo:  Sam Sodomsky

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Texas congressman running for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, once played in a punk band with At the Drive-In and the Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala. Yesterday, he showed off his musical chops once again, playing guitar with Willie Nelson during Nelson’s annual Fourth of July Picnic in Austin, as Consequence of Sound points out. Along with Margo Price, members of the Head and the Heart and Asleep at the Wheel and more, they played Nelson’s stoner anthems “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “It’s All Going to Pot,” as well as the hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Check out a video of the performance below.

In his campaign announcement, O’Rourke promised to resist Trump and “fight when necessary against a president who is focused on building walls, or conducting military immigrant round-ups.”

The Democrat running against Ted Cruz was previously in a band with At the Drive-In’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 1998 (Luckenbach, Texas)

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Willie Nelson fans at Willie Nelson’s Picnic

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 1973

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

The birth of an iconic festival happened in Dripping Springs on the year of 1973! In 1972, Willie was on the lineup bill for the Dripping Springs Reunion, and fortunate for the Willie fans, the reunion did not meet expectations due to poor attendance. Nelson was interested in this concept and in 1973, he decided to host the first annual Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in the same place, only this time, Willie brought over 40,000 hippies and rednecks. The Picnic lost money, but launched a Texas tradition.
The lineup was: Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Loretta Lynn, Hank Snow, Tex Ritter, Bill Monroe.
“It was miserable and it was great, one of the glorious heathen stomps between the Americas of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy and Ronald Reagan. Many had come the evening before and spent the night passing stories and hits around campfires.” – Billy Porterfield, Austin Statesman

Margon Price at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018