Willie’s Picnic during COTA: Rising stars, old…
July 5, 2015 - Picnic Time
For a plain 10 hours, all went off yet a join Saturday during a initial Picnic during a Racetrack. Returning to Austin for a initial time in 5 years, Willie Nelson’s Fourth of Jul Picnic requisitioned a remarkably clever lineup during Circuit of a Americas, and around 20,000 fans incited out to join in a celebration.
After a object went down, though, all went a small haywire. The Picnic organisation had done it by 20 acts yet ever descending some-more than 10 mins behind, superbly shuffling brief sets by a initial 10 performers from 11:15 a.m. to only past 3 p.m. on a temporary theatre in a venue’s Grand Plaza. A far-reaching weed grass offering copiousness of room for station or sitting, and utterly a few cruise tables in back.
After 3 p.m., sets began rotating between a piazza and a categorical Austin360 Amphitheater stage. Things stayed on lane for another 6 hours, as legends such as Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell and Billy Joe Shaver separate time with a glorious expel of rising stars including Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves.
A video posted by Peter Blackstock (@blackstock360) on Jul 4, 2015 during 6:31pm PDT
It was after Musgraves’ superb 8 p.m. set that a back-and-forth trifle between a dual stages ceased, and a organisation couldn’t keep adult with a gait a rest of a way. A scheduled 15-minute reset on a categorical theatre between Musgraves and Merle Haggard stretched to roughly 40 minutes. By a time a scheduled brief fireworks arrangement followed Haggard’s set, a uncover was a full hour behind.
Adding to a down side was a prerequisite of sitting by an hour of Eric Church before Willie and his family rope brought a uncover to a healthy apex. Context is everything: When Church played a iHeartRadio Country Festival during a Erwin Center final year, he stood out as one of a night’s improved acts, sounding about as good as mainstream nation radio has to offer. But set opposite a likes of a Picnic’s differently brilliantly fabricated lineup of songwriters, his songs about drinkin’ a cold one, drinkin’ a product-placement code of whiskey and only drinkin’ a splash in his palm suggested him to be an dull suit.
For brief moments, he attempted to mangle out, such as when he prefaced his quasi-anthem “Springsteen” with a intense run by a initial hymn and carol of Robert Earl Keen’s “Corpus Christi Bay” that begged for a full rendition. And he chose wisely in his set closer with The Band’s “The Weight,” mouth-watering late-afternoon categorical theatre prominence Chris Stapleton behind out to sing one of a verses.
It was with Stapleton’s 4:40 p.m. set that a Picnic entirely strike a stride. Kris Kristofferson had played a initial set on a Amphitheater theatre immediately before, behaving solo with no pushing yet environment a correct tinge that if you’re going to play Willie’s Picnic, we improved move along some top-shelf strange songs. Stapleton, who’s created a lot of hits for other artists yet is only now removing his shot in a spotlight with his acclaimed manuscript “Traveller,” valid adult to a task, resplendent with a soulful subsidy rope that brought out a play of songs such as “Nobody to Blame” and a record’s pretension track.
Next on a large theatre was Sturgill Simpson, whose new sold-out Stubb’s shows and “Austin City Limits” taping showcased a 2014 breakthrough manuscript “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” that brilliantly synthesizes nation and psychedelia. Simpson mostly avoided a latter on this day, selecting instead to excavate some-more into his bluegrass roots — “I know we’re in Texas, yet I’m from Kentucky!” he explained — in a 40-minute set that spotlighted his full-throated vocals and his band’s prohibited picking.
From a pristine songwriting perspective, no one kick a categorical stage’s subsequent performer, reigning Americana Music Association Artist of a Year Jason Isbell. As most as his 2013 manuscript “Southeastern” sparked a career peak, it’s his nearing “Something More Than Free,” due Jul 17, that stands to launch him into another league, judging from Saturday’s renditions of a album’s ardent pretension lane and a fantastic initial single, “24 Frames.” Isbell also reached behind to his Drive-By Truckers days for “Outfit” and “Decoration Day,” both of that offering wise alternate-view perspectives on a Independence Day atmosphere.
A video posted by Peter Blackstock (@blackstock360) on Jul 4, 2015 during 5:12pm PDT
Amid this portentous widen of categorical theatre up-and-comers was a clever anchor of sets from Picnic mainstays on a smaller stage. In succession, a flourishing piazza throng was treated to a classical honky-tonk of Johnny Bush, a outlaw mysticism of Billy Joe Shaver, a piano Hank-and-Stones trifle of Leon Russell and a western pitch reconstruction of Asleep during a Wheel. Closing out a Plaza Stage run only before dusk was Jamey Johnson, who smartly kept a subsidy low-key so his vocals could gleam on stirring covers of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
That was a ideal segue into a big-stage opening of Musgraves, who’s all a fury even in mainstream nation circles these days yet is intelligent adequate not to reduce herself to that common denominator. Dressed for a partial in a spangly starred white outfit that played off her new album’s “Pageant Material” title, Musgraves valid entirely estimable of a Picnic headlining container with intelligent songs such as “Mama’s Broken Heart” and “Step Off” that pointedly refrained from Nashville bombast-and-cliche. And when she got to her pound strike “Follow Your Arrow,” it was a ideal fit for Willie’s Picnic, with a wily small warning in a carol to “roll adult a joint.”
It was all downhill from there, with a way-too-long postponement before Haggard’s decent yet mediocre set sparked essentially by Willie’s cameo during a finish for Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho Lefty” and a novel singular “It’s All Going to Pot” from their chart-topping new twin album. The fireworks, and Church’s miss thereof, chased some of a throng home before Willie finally took a theatre during 12:23 a.m. on Jul 5 – yet a immeasurable infancy of a throng did hang around in a intense uncover of oneness for their dear host.
A video posted by Peter Blackstock (@blackstock360) on Jul 4, 2015 during 10:26pm PDT
He and his Family Band — pianist Bobbie Nelson, harmonica actor Mickey Raphael, bassist Kevin Smith and drummer/percussionists Paul and Billy English — rewarded them with about an hour of heading Willie, from a requisite “Whiskey River” and “On a Road Again” to medleys of his possess undying classics (“Funny How Time Slips Away”/“Crazy”/“Night Life”) and those of Hank Williams. Around 1:15 a.m., an central came onstage and apparently thankful them to hang things up, so Willie invited out performers still on palm backstage including Kristofferson, Johnson and Church for “Will a Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away” before a culmination that he described as “my new gospel song” — “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When we Die.”
A discerning demeanour during early-afternoon highlights, that featured 15-to-20-minute sets from a cross-section of performers:
Three-named Texans Ray Wylie Hubbard and David Allan Coe got a Picnic true smiling and dancing with hallmark numbers such as “Screw You, We’re From Texas” and “Take This Job and Shove It,” respectively. A contingent of Nelson family acts helped a throng palliate into a feverishness of a afternoon, with Paula Nelson profitable reverence to Waylon Jennings and Mickey Newbury after Raelyn Nelson rocked out on Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and a twin “Folk Uke” (Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, Arlo’s daughter) sang comic songs that were mostly unprintable yet utterly entertaining. Sirius/XM DJ Dallas Wayne, a glorious songwriter in his possess right, played dual glorious tunes and deserved some-more time. Armadillo World Headquarters veterans Greezy Wheels played a brief yet enterprising set that helped put a Picnic in chronological perspective. And Hudson Moore, Amber Digby and Pauline Reese supposing a hint for those only nearing to a Circuit of a Americas drift before noon.
A video posted by Peter Blackstock (@blackstock360) on Jul 4, 2015 during 11:17am PDT
Despite a late-night scheduling snafu, COTA valid a good mark for a Picnic, yet a vast concessions prices are a unwell class on an differently clever news card. If a family of 4 spent a full day during a cruise and indispensable dual meals, a integrate of snacks, a few beers and sodas, and unchanging hydration from bottled H2O — there are a few H2O fountains on site, yet they’re tucked divided — only a cost of those essentials could simply run $200-$300 for a day. With no food or splash authorised in, that amounts to racetrack robbery.
American-Statesman/Austin360.com staffer Dave Thomas contributed to this report.