Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves Lead Willie Nelson's Picnic - Rolling Stone
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Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves Lead Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic

Merle Haggard, Sturgill Simpson and more set to play Nelson’s annual Independence Day concert

Willie Nelson Fourth of JulyWillie Nelson Fourth of July

Willie Nelson will host his annual Fourth of July Picnic in Austin, with guests Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves and Sturgill Simpson.

Gary Miller/Getty

In 1973, just four years after Woodstock, the most iconic American music festival of its kind, country star Willie Nelson hosted his first-ever Fourth of July Picnic in Dripping Springs, Texas, just outside the state’s capital city of Austin. In 2015, for the first time in five years, the Independence Day event returns to Austin with Willie Nelson and Family joined by performers Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Merle Haggard, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Leon Russell, Billy Joe Shaver, Chris Stapleton, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Willie’s sons Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, and their respective bands.

“I got the idea from Woodstock about how music could bring people from different places together,” the 81-year-old icon says in a statement. “I had just moved to Austin and had come to realize what a great music center it was and could be. I thought it would be a nice idea to this year have it back in Austin.”

Tickets for the Fourth of July Picnic, which will take place on two stages at the Austin360 Amphitheater, go on sale Sunday, April 10th, with prices ranging from $35 to $75.

In 2014, Dierks Bentley, Charley Pride, Ryan Bingham and David Allan Coe (who will perform again this year) were among the acts at the annual event, which was held at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The lineup for the first picnic, in 1973, included Nelson and two of his future bandmates in the Highwaymen, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, along with Tom T. Hall, John Prine and Doug Sahm.

Haggard, who last performed at the Picnic in 2003, when it was staged in Spicewood, Texas, was in New Braunfels with Nelson on Saturday night for the last of a trio of co-headlining shows. Over three nights, the two Country Music Hall of Famers performed with their bands and also traded tunes with each other. The legendary pair will release their fourth duets album, Django & Jimmie, later this year. 


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