Team Texas at Nashville Music Guide spent the summer at several music festivals across the Lonestar state publicizing artists beyond Nashville’s “Music Row”- we attended The 41st Annual Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic and The Gun Barrel City July Fest.
Several thousand Country music fans began entering the gates early afternoon for the Willie Nelson July 4th Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas – the world’s largest honky tonk in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. There was humor and excitement in the air as the Willie “look-a-likes” and the Americana costumes popped up in the crowd that was quickly filling up the area surrounding the two stages, which were a host for the event’s talent consisting of young, old, traditional and legendary Country and Rock stars.
The line-up included: Ryan Bingham, Johnny Bush, David Allan Coe, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charley Pride, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Paula Nelson, Insects vs. Robots (Micah Nelson), Folk Uke, Jamey Johnson, Amber Digby, The Josh Abbott Band, Dierks Bentley and Willie Nelson & Family.
Concert goers entered the “rain or shine” event with hopes that it would come a downpour on the 102 degree Texas day. It was one of the hottest concerts we have ever attended, but we were quite humbled as the fans were giving it their all for legends of country music. Fans from all over the world were waiting for Willie to appear on stage.
“It’s so hot in Texas compared to Canada,” said one concert goer. “I have come all the way from Australia to attend this picnic,” said another Willie fan. It was very impressive to see fans that are so dedicated to music found in the heart of Texas.
“Long before Lollapalooza and Coachella Music Festival, there was Willie’s Picnic – an outdoor music festival that began in a small Texas town that would continue for decades. The event has changed much in its forty-one year run, culminating in to this year’s event, the 41st annual– an all-day concert,” according to www.fortworthstockyards.org. “At its start in 1973, the hippie movement was well under way when a 40-year-old Willie Nelson decided to hold a music festival in a field in Dripping Springs. Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Tom T. Hall headlined the festival that brought over 40,000 people to the inaugural run of what would become a Texas tradition. Over the next 3 decades the picnic continued to hold steady in fans and entertainers, moving around various cities in Texas, from Austin to Luckenbach. It was a big deal in 2004 when Nelson announced at a press conference in the Fort Worth Stockyards that he was bringing his picnic to one of his boyhood homes – Fort Worth.”
Eighty miles East of Fort Worth, we also attended the Gun Barrel City July Fest.
Established in 1969, Gun Barrel sits in the heart of Cedar Creek Lake and hosts July Fest. The annual event held the first Saturday
in July consists of the 106.9 FM Battle of the Bands, a music festival, a carnival, a 5k run and fireworks. This year’s line-up included; Alexis Elkins, Trinity Langford, the Bamboo Boat Band, Kadie Lynn, The Wesley Pruitt Band, Casey Donahew Band, Back in Black and Vanilla Ice.
NMG spotlighted Kadie Lynn in the festival issue this summer. We were glad to be able to be in her home state and support her at this show. Well, she proved us right and not only is she an amazing 10-year-old entertainer; she opened the show with her original music and by the end had fans lined up at her booth to get her autograph.
The Wesley Pruitt Band hit the stage directly after Kadie Lynn and did a great job of keeping the awesomeness flowing. Living by the motto “One Mind, One Band, One Goal Playing Texas Music with Soul,” he definitely showed what that meant on stage.
“The Wesley Pruitt Band is a dynamic force that enjoys and thrives on playing musical venues. It almost angers them to be put into just one category because they like to play all kinds of music,” According to Manager Shary Watson, “Their sets consist of originals such as “Taking your Memories” “Poor Man Blues,” which made it on the TX Country Music charts, “Thief in the Night” and “Cocaine & Whiskey.” They have shared the stage with Bugs Henderson, Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen, Jarrod Birmingham and Tutu Jones.
Another great band that we ran into was Back in Black, an incredible rendition and performance dedicated to AC/DC. The band’s energy on stage to hype the crowd is just the right amount to garner attention from their audience and then draw them in with their classic style and musicianship.
The crowd began to get larger as the time drew closer to Casey Donahew’s appearance. The Burleson native – with the help of his wife Melinda – has painstakingly carved out an impressive niche for himself on the country music scene over the past decade, attracting a solid base of loyal fans who flock to his legendary live shows. Building his career from the ground up, one show at a time, he’s managed to perform on countless stages night after night in front of thousands, topped the Texas music charts several times, released four albums independently to critical acclaim and forged a path all his own through the music scene without the aid or muscle of a major record label or power-suit management company.
The festival ended with the legendary, Vanilla Ice, and the crowd was literally crawling over one another to get closer to the stage. Most of his songs are positive thoughts of “Making It” or “My way” as he states. As we sat and observed the outpour of love for the rap icon, Vanilla Ice is an inspiration to keep moving forward in what you love. He ended the show with his #1 hit, “Ice, Ice, Baby” and the crowd literally went wild.
Our adventures through the music world in Texas shed a new light on what we can expect to see in Nashville by the next radio seminar as well as allowed us to share some history about legends that we all know and love.
By Amanda Goodman Pruitt