Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion


photo: Gary Miller

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by:  Doug Freeman

The lineup was also notable for reflecting the increasing resurgence of soul in the roots scene, from Gilfillian and the raw, powerful set from Philly’s Son Little to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats’ penultimate mainstage draw. The latter pulled on the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who earlier in the evening shook the Revival Tent, to join for a cathartic, horn-blasted romp of “S.O.B.”

Although the Luck Reunion remains a full Nelson Family Band event, with scions Micah Nelson and Lukas Nelson getting mainstage turns and Willie’s headlining set providing the perennial close, the fest has noticeably marked the ascendancy of the latter sibling as torchbearer of the Family ethos. Case in point was his band Promise of the Real’s exceptional set that brought out this year’s special guest and chapel headliner Margo Price for “Find Yourself.” Nelson then stayed onstage for several songs supporting Kurt Vile’s mellow psychedelic jams.

photo:  Gary Miller

photo:  Gary Miller

That passing of the torch was highlighted in Willie’s own set as well. While the patriarch sounded in fine form, voice as full as it’s been in years, Lukas provided the mid-set climax with “Texas Flood,” smoking the exchange of guitar solos with Asleep at the Wheel bandleader Ray Benson and his father, Pops grinning and laughing as his eldest took the lead.

By the time the stage packed with artists for the last call of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” the Luck Reunion felt as a much a call for the next generation of artists as Willie Nelson’s SXSW day party. That impression cemented with his walking from the stage leaving Lukas leading the final rounds in front of Price, Rateliff, Doe, and the rollicking Preservation Hall horns.

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