Magic things transpire in Luck, Texas.
“How the hell am I supposed to do anything at all right after that?” gushed Tami Neilson, a New Zealand singer-songwriter who’d just sung a song onstage with Willie Nelson through the yearly Luck Reunion past month at Nelson’s ranch in Spicewood. Within just months, that song, “Further than the Stars,” was unveiled as Neilson’s new one, complete with a online video she filmed in the course of the festival that captured her distinctive minute onstage with Willie. She was in Luck, in fact.
2022 marked the Reunion’s 10th anniversary, and its creators wanted to mark the situation by expanding routines at the ranch outside of just that after-a-12 months showcase. And so we now have Luck Presents, a fledgling concert marketing corporation run by a handful of music business mavericks with immediate ties to the Nelson relatives and a vision to build a musical oasis that is “Just Outdoors of Austin” — as Willie’s son Lukas Nelson described Luck in a tune bearing that title.
These destinations in Central Texas are not unheard of, of training course. Willie’s pal Waylon Jennings made Luckenbach environment-well known when he recorded a tune identify-checking the tiny Hill Place hamlet in the 1970s, shortly immediately after Jerry Jeff Walker experienced recorded his landmark “Viva Terlingua” are living album there. And a great deal of Austinites have headed an hour south on Interstate 35 to show up at exhibits at the 145-yr-previous Gruene Hall near New Braunfels.
But Luck has a thing different, one thing distinctive. This is Willie Nelson’s house turf, the stays of a movie set developed for his 1980s film “Purple Headed Stranger.” Initially, the established was to be burned in a hearth that was part of the story, but the script was changed when Willie grew connected to the Aged West buildings that provided a saloon, a write-up workplace and a chapel.
Speedy-ahead a couple decades — very long plenty of for Nelson’s grand-niece, Ellee Fletcher Durniak, to be born and then occur of age as a New York trend university graduate turned budding music entrepreneur. Though in New York, she achieved Matt Bizer at a show by limited-lived but influential Austin band the Dedringers.
Prior to very long, she and Bizer have been arranging a South by Southwest working day social gathering in Austin for the Dedringers and other bands. But Durniak — whose father, Freddy Fletcher, is the son of Willie’s late sister and pianist, Bobbie Nelson — had developed up on Willie’s expansive acreage, so it was perhaps only pure that her feelings turned to the Luck Ranch.
How Luck Reunion obtained began
At supper one evening with Willie and his spouse, Annie, they broached the subject. “It was like a pitch shot in the darkish: ‘Would you enable us use the home?’” Durniak recalls. “And they had been like, ‘Yeah, just get a allow.’”
Bizer, who’d lately crafted up a movie-crew resume in Texas on projects such as Turk Pipkin’s Xmas story “When Angels Sing,” did not feel it could perhaps be that easy. “I imagined it was a joke,” he says with a chuckle. “And then a couple of weeks later on, Ellee and I were being chatting, and she was like, ‘How’s it all coming with the setting up?’
“I recognized extremely quickly, that is how they function. If you’re aspect of the family or you’re in that discussion, all of a unexpected you’re accomplishing anything.”
Durniak and Bizer arranged their initially exhibit at Luck Ranch through SXSW 2012. For a couple of decades, it was known as the Heartbreaker Banquet, in conjunction with other partners who finally departed. By 2016, the event had been re-christened the Luck Reunion. Despite a main rainstorm that yr, which halted the tunes for a number of hours, the event was a major achievements, producing excitement that place the Reunion on the map as a sought-soon after SXSW prevent for a lot of prominent performers and growing stars.
Following a 2019 function that bundled the initially Austin-area present for Yola, who’d shortly be nominated for very best new artist at the Grammys, Bizer and Durniak began brainstorming for an 2020 enlargement that would include things like far more displays in the course of SXSW’s 2nd weekend. The pandemic grounded all of that, even though the Luck Presents team managed to pull collectively a makeshift but intriguing livestreamed Reunion that provided digital performances by every person from Neil Youthful and Paul Simon to Orville Peck and Courtney Barnett.
Their plans finally took root this calendar year. After the classic Thursday reunion, Luck booked exhibits with Americana luminaries Jason Isbell on Friday and Shakey Graves on Saturday. A late incorporate was a Sunday general performance by landlord Willie Nelson, who also performed a next exhibit the subsequent weekend.
Next up is a Friday live performance by Pacific Northwest indie-rock band Modest Mouse, an sign that Luck Offers is extra than prepared to operate over and above the outlaw nation/Americana borders most usually associated with the Nelson household. And they not too long ago introduced an Oct. 1 overall look by theatrical rockers Flaming Lips.
But there’s also nonetheless space for things that is right down the centre of the strike zone. That is why Willie, who turns 89 on April 29, is set to observe up Friday-Saturday demonstrates with George Strait at Austin’s new Moody Centre by using part in a Sunday birthday tribute at Luck Ranch that will also feature performances by Margo Cost, Nathaniel Rateliff, Robert Earl Keen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Vincent Neil Emerson and host Bruce Robison.
There is much more to appear. In addition to the Flaming Lips live performance, Durniak and Bizer are scheduling a series of reveals this drop that they’ve tentatively dubbed Lucktoberfest. Performers have not however been declared, but Luck Presents’ keep track of document to date virtually assures a slate of top quality bookings.
What can make Luck specific
Durniak says that this year’s routine most likely will quantity to around a dozen reveals overall. That number could be better up coming yr, but she and Bizer never appear to be to have a specific target in head. “We choose the men and women we want,” Durniak states. “It’s acts that we really want to have out there.”
Part of what has built the Reunion these a achievements is a willingness to just take chances on up-and-coming acts. The lone frequent is Willie, who headlines the demonstrate with his Loved ones band significantly like he does with his half-century-aged Fourth of July Picnic. But whilst the Picnic tends to concentration on set up functions and longtime Willie compadres, the Reunion is much more in the spirit of audio discovery.
This year’s model was a prime illustration. Sure, there had been a couple of Picnic-styled bookings: Isbell was a specific visitor at the Reunion in addition to actively playing his individual Luck present the subsequent night time, and the 1970s-era Missing Gonzo Band presented a connection to Willie’s outlaw nation glory a long time. But the Reunion’s most unforgettable moments came from increasing stars this kind of as Allison Russell and Japanese Breakfast — both of whom scored “Austin City Limits” Television set tapings this spring — and Danielle Ponder, who would seem poised for a breakout similar to Yola’s 2019 minute.
Luck’s capacity to scout and existing this kind of expertise is mostly a subject of “making certain to glance every area, and holding that doorway open,” Bizer suggests. “We like to just attempt to raise up what ever we can out below. … Japanese Breakfast was of course not the very first (act) you’d imagine of actively playing Luck, But for us, it is really really exciting to expose people to (artists) like that.”
There is a precedent for such tries at setting up bridges in between audiences in the environment of Willie. “What most people talks about all the time in Austin is like, ‘Oh, he united the hippies and the cowboys,” Bizer suggests. “But we don’t feel consciously (about that). The new music, and the variety of people who are attracted to that audio, is what creates it. We make a space exactly where every person is recognized, and you just overlook about it when you’re there.”
And so, even with much more concerts getting extra on the residence that do not involve Willie’s onstage participation, his spirit operates via all the things that transpires at Luck Ranch. Certainly, what can make this put most distinctive is merely that it is Nelson’s property turf, and that he’s prepared to share it.
“There’s just a joy that surrounds his sets when he is out there,” Durniak claims. “I imagine it actually is a sense of satisfaction. He pulls up in his pickup truck, appropriate up to the backstage, and just struts on. I are not able to communicate for him, but I consider he has the time of his everyday living. I’ve noticed a million Willie exhibits, but there is certainly a thing different about him onstage at Luck.”
If you go to Luck Ranch
Friday: Modest Mouse with the Cribs, 7 p.m. (doors at 5:30 p.m.), $55 common admission ($125 VIP), $40 ranch parking pass
Sunday: Willie Nelson birthday celebration with host Bruce Robison plus Margo Rate, Nathaniel Rateliff, Robert Earl Eager, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Vincent Neil Emerson, 7 p.m. (5:30 p.m. doorways), $35 common admission ($150 VIP), $40 ranch parking move, $50 shuttle from Austin’s Arlyn Studios
Oct. 1: Flaming Lips, 7 p.m. (doorways at 5:30 p.m.), $47.50 typical admission ($125 VIP)
Parking/shuttles: $40 parking at ranch $50 shuttle from Austin’s Arlyn Studios
Handle: 1100 Bee Creek Highway in Spicewood
Additional information and facts: luckpresents.com