Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic – The Backyard, Bee Caves, Texas – 2010
There will no doubt be many different stories to come out of yesterday’s event, the latest of Willie’s annual holiday picnics. My perspective relates to the view had from the square yard of real estate I shared with my husband, Jack. With a little luck, we made it close to center stage (especially helpful since I was using my little point and shoot camera).
Knowing how these events can go well into the night – which it did – our gang decided to arrive at a sane hour late in the afternoon. Try as we might, we just can’t do it all. And without chairs and food, along with an overpopulated venue, the goal was to see as many of our legends as we could while avoiding the inevitable pitfalls.
We weren’t disappointed on the music front. It was definitely a Nelson family affair, but included a variety of other artists as well. Upon arrival, we started out with our Texas-based Del Castillo, a favorite. And then it rolled into sets with a couple of Willie’s daughters, Paula Nelson, as well as Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie in their group, Folk Uke. Next up were local country stars Randy Rogers and Jack Ingram. And thanks to Mac Homer, I learned that Waylon Payne was the super performer up next who I had not seen before, and joined by Papa Mali nonetheless!
Then, with darkness coming on, it was finally time for the folks we had really been waiting for — Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, Leon Russell, and ultimately Willie, Bobbie, and the stage family. David Allan Coe joined the mix after having done a set earlier in the day with Ray Wylie. Ray Benson did the same, staying throughout Willie’s set. All along there were tributes given to now-gone comrades, and Poodie Locke watched over it all through it all from a key spot on the stage.
Ray Price was exceptional. At about 83 years of age, his voice remains as smooth as ever. The songs he sings still have special meaning to me, even in their simplicity. He was a highlight. Kris was the same.
How lucky we are to live during the time of these fantastic song writers.
And the crowd definitely contributed to the singing during those sets, though without doubt at least half of the audience was getting their first education on these classic artists.
Willie’s son, Micah Nelson, and his band The Reflectables, came on late at night, or shall I say early in the morning, ultimately introducing Willie’s arrival himself. The crowd had thinned by then, understandably so, but those of us remaining were at full attention. Willie was great. He looked superb. He sounded just fine. The admiration for him was apparent. We were happy to be there.
My first Willie picnic was in 1979 on his Pedernales ranch. How could that be 30 years ago? The good news is that the tradition still goes on, and we were a little part of it once again.