The bill at this summer’s Windy City Smokeout just got a bit more crowded. Turnpike Troubadours will now join Willie Nelson and Family as co-headliners on Aug. 4, the opening night of the four-day music and barbecue festival held in the parking lot of Chicago’s United Center.
An official announcement from the festival, along with the release of single-day tickets, is planned 10 a.m. Central. This year’s Smokeout runs Aug. 4 through 7.
The Troubadours — whose pending reunion, discussed with Rolling Stone in November, has led to ticket frenzies and quick sellouts for each show they have announced this year — will join previously announced headliners Nelson, Tim McGraw, Sam Hunt, and Miranda Lambert.
“Any chance we get to share the stage with Willie is a dream come true,” Turnpike steel player Hank Early tells Rolling Stone. “The fact that it’s at the Windy City Smokeout in one of our favorite cities makes it that much sweeter. We’ve missed you, Chicago. Get ready for a hell of a night.”
In addition to the Chicago festival, Turnpike Troubadours are planning to announce appearances at the Jackalope Jamboree in Pendleton, Oregon, on June 24, and Gordy’s HWY 30 Music Fest in Filer, Idaho, on June 25, along with a headlining spot at the Under the Big Sky festival in Whitefish, Montana, in July.
The Thursday lineup at the Smokeout will be rounded out by Zach Bryan and Morgan Wade, two artists currently drawing plenty of attention in their own rights. Over the past year, Bryan’s profile has risen high enough to land him upcoming dates headlining Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and supporting Luke Combs on the his stadium tour.
Meanwhile, Wade, who will also be a part of Combs’ tour, is releasing a deluxe edition of her debut album, Reckless, on Friday. Rolling Stone named the album, co-produced by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit guitarist Sadler Vaden and Paul Ebersold, the No. 1 country and Americana album of 2021.
“I’m really looking forward to playing Windy City Smokeout,” says Wade, who is appearing this week at the Mile 0 Festival in Key West, with a main stage concert scheduled for Saturday. “I actually had the honor of opening for Willie Nelson last year at his ranch down in Texas, and that was so special to me. I’m never going to complain about a bill with Willie Nelson on it. The Turnpike Troubadours coming back out on the road is great to hear about, too. I haven’t seen them live before and look forward to that set.”
Smokeout officials say the festival capacity exceeds 15,000, which will make it the largest concert of any that Turnpike has confirmed so far this year. In anticipation of the demand, the festival will limit ticket sales to four per customer and use a delayed release in hopes of discouraging bots and scalpers. Smokeout co-founder Ed Warm is planning a party to match the hype.
“We think we have one of the best festivals of the summer right here,” Warm says. “And we’re excited to have Willie, Turnpike, and their fans, to kick it off.”
Warm was quick to emphasize that he views every act scheduled over the festival’s four days to be a “can’t-miss” artist, and was particularly nostalgic about Lambert, who first played one of Warm’s Chicago venues — Joe’s on Weed — when she was 19.
“I want to mention how excited I am to have Miranda as a headliner,” Warm said. “She has played our venues throughout her career, and for her to come back to headline Windy City Smokeout is really special.
The complete Windy City Smokeout lineup is below:
Thursday, August 4 (gates at 1pm): Morgan Wade, Zach Bryan, Turnpike Troubadours, Willie Nelson and Family
Friday, August 5 (gates at 2pm): Shelby Darrall, Tiera Kennedy, Niko Moon, Russell Dickerson, Tim McGraw
Saturday, August 6 (gates at 1pm): Lily Rose, Mackenzie Porter, Jordan Davis, Sam Hunt
Sunday, August 7 (gates at 1pm): Mike & the Moonpies, Flatland Cavalry, Mitchell Tenpenny, Miranda Lambert
Josh Crutchmer is the author of the book Red Dirt: Roots Music, Born in Oklahoma, Raised in Texas, at Home Anywhere (Back Lounge Publishing, 2020).