Billy Bob’s Texas recently heralded the return after five evidently long years of Willie’s 4th of July Picnic to Fort Worth, specifically to Rodeo Plaza, a.k.a. that large portion of Stockyards real estate occupied by the World’s Largest Honky Tonk ®. The picnic will take place in and around Billy Bob’s. The 2004, ’05, and ’06 versions happened in the Stockyards in general. The intervening picnics took place elsewhere.
Part of the 2011 picnic will include the penultimate performance of the Country Throwdown Tour, featuring Willie, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Lee Brice, Craig Campbell, Drake White, and Willie’s son’s band, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. The tour also has a side-stage, the Bluebird Café Stage, named after a celebrated Music City ® club where country singer-songwriters often participate in guitar pulls. Passing around the gitfiddle at Willie’s picnic will be Adam Hood, Caitlyn Smith, Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Dani Flowers, and Erin Enderlin. Among picnic headliners so far are Willie, Ray Price, and David Allan Coe. Others will be determined later.
You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?
In line with previous spleen-o-grams I’ve written over the years on the subject at hand, Willie’s picnics have never been cheerful of local talent. That there is enough quality Fort Worth bands and artists in keeping with the picnic’s folky/rock-y/countrified style is indisputable ––The Orbans, Telegraph Canyon, The Will Callers, Chatterton, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Tommy Alverson, Charla Corn, Scott Copeland, Ginny Mac, Jody Jones, Brad Hines, Stephen Pointer, Clay Wilson, Phil Pritchett, Joey Green, PrinceRodriguez, Randy Brown, Manning-Dickson, Left-Arm Tan, Terry Rasor, Paul Nunn, and former Fort Worthians Collin Herring, Jason Eady, and Kyle Bennett would fit just nicely.
Willie, ever the shrewd businessman, should understand that he would be doing himself –– and good ol’ “Cowtown” –– a great service by featuring some of them prominently. He’d get cheap draws. The bands would get good exposure. Rounding out the picnic with some homegrown talent –– and “homegrown” means “Tarrant County,” not “Dallas” or “Denton” –– makes so much sense it hurts.
By not tipping his bandana in the direction of our musically inclined friends and family members, Willie is A.) smearing his image as that of a blue-collar man of the people, and B.) he’s, well, he’s kind of thumbing his nose at us. How’d you feel if someone was throwing a party in your house, but you weren’t allowed to speak to any of the guests, imbibe, or generally have fun? Not too great, I bet. Not too great.
Unlike the Vans Warped Tour or Lollapalooza, Willie’s picnic is a one-shot deal. At least Edgefest, another one-shot deal, lets local bands battle for an opening spot, which is a left-handed compliment, totally, but still: The Edge is at least, no doubt with a great many sighs, acknowledging its constituency. Willie, apparently, could care less.