Willie’s Picnic during COTA: Rising stars, old…

July 5, 2015 - Picnic Time

Fireworks during Willie Nelson's Fourth of Jul Picnic during a Circuit of a Americas on Saturday, Jul 4, 2015. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Fireworks during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of Jul Picnic during a Circuit of a Americas on Saturday, Jul 4, 2015. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

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.

PHOTOS: Willie Nelson’s 4th of Jul Picnic

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.

Title lane to Kacey Musgraves’ new manuscript “Pageant Material.” Great song. #WilliePicnic

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.

Eric Church performs during Willie Nelson's Fourth of Jul Picnic during a Circuit of a Americas on Saturday, Jul 4, 2015. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Eric Church during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of Jul Picnic on Saturday. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

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.

Jason Isbell reached behind to his Drive-By Truckers days for “Decoration Day” during #WilliePicnic

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.”

Kacey Musgraves and her rope during Willie Nelson's Fourth of Jul Picnic during a Circuit of a Americas on Saturday, Jul 4, 2015. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Kacey Musgraves during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of Jul Picnic during on Saturday. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

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.

“Whiskey River”: Willie takes a theatre during 12:23 on Jul 5. #WilliePicnic

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.”

Willie Nelson closes out his Fourth of Jul Picnic during a Circuit of a Americas on Saturday, Jul 4, 2015. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Willie Nelson closes out his Fourth of Jul Picnic on Saturday. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

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.

The family vibe continues with Paula Nelson covering one of Mickey Newbury’s pain songs during #WilliePicnic

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.