Luck Reunion shines with stars
by: Lindsey Liles
Photos: Mary Ellen Matthews

In 2012, Willie Nelson hosted the first Luck Reunion at his ranch outside of Austin, Texas, as a kind of anti-festival that kept the crowds small and focused on the music. This year, the reunion—after two years of virtual performances due to the pandemic—welcomed back its customary four-thousand lottery-winning guests for the one-day, five-stage, forty-band affair. “It felt like a big celebration,” says Matt Bizer, the event’s founder and producer.

“After two years down, it really did have that reunion feel.” The day included sets from old favorites and up-and-comers alike, including Charley Crockett, the Lost Gonzo Band, Japanese Breakfast, Weyes Blood, a surprise set from Jason Isbell accompanied by Danielle Ponder, and of course, Willie himself.

“His sons sat on either side of him, and it felt like a family jam,” Bizer says. Having just lost his sister and long-time pianist, Bobbie Nelson, Willie’s performance honored her as well. “It was moving to see the family using music to heal and entertain at same time—that’s what Willie knows how to do. He’s in his element and at his best when he’s on stage with a guitar.”

As for Bizer? He’s already planning the 2023 Luck Reunion. “We start thinking about the next one the day after, or the day of,” he says. “We take pride in it, and we work on it all year.” Until then, you can take a peek at this year’s artists in the stunning images below, captured by Saturday Night Live head photographer Mary Ellen Matthews with set design by Acme Brooklyn. 

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