Willie Nelson and Family, Japanese Breakfast, Allison Russell, Weyes Blood, Adia Victoria, Delta Spirit, Charlie Crockett and Chuck Prophet & Mission Express lead the lineup for the 10th anniversary edition of Luck Reunion, to be held March 17 on Nelson’s 500-acre ranch about 30 miles north of Austin. With a capacity of 3,500, the Southwest Airlines-sponsored event is already sold out, but a handful of tickets are traditionally made available closer to the date.
Luck Reunion takes place in and around structures first built on the property in 1985 as sets for the Nelson-starring movie “Red Headed Stranger,” making it one of the most unique festival experiences in the United States amid a concert industry dominated by large corporations. Performances are held adjacent to horse pastures in such settings as an old saloon and a tiny chapel, where Bill Murray once climbed through a back door during a set by Jenny Lewis and Lucius.
The area is also pictured on the cover of Nelson’s forthcoming album, “A Beautiful Time,” due from Legacy Recordings on April 29, the same day as his 89th birthday. Before Luck, Nelson will return to the road beginning March 13 in New Orleans.
One of Luck’s co-founders, Ellee Fletcher Durniak, is Nelson’s sister/bandmate Bobbi’s granddaughter and Nelson’s great-niece. Growing up around the corner from the ranch, she used to drive a gas-powered golf cart there every weekend to play with her cousins, Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah. “At the time, the property was not up to code by any means,” she tells Variety with a laugh. “We’d get nails in our feet. There were fake rocks and weird things from all those old movie sets. But it has been a really special experience being able to invite people to witness this amazing property, because it has never really been open to the public.”
This year’s Luck lineup is arguably its most diverse, featuring artists representing Americana, rock, alternative and country. The bill is rounded out by Neal Francis, Lucero, Black Lips, Sunflower Bean, Seratones, Steve Gunn, Bendigo Fletcher, Danielle Ponder, Leslie Mendelson and Ida Mae, among many others.
“We want Luck to be a place of discovery and really celebrate artists that are following their own path,” Durniak says. “We’re drawn to people that aren’t adhering to industry standards and are just doing their own thing. This lineup is really representative of that.”
Beyond his headlining performance at Luck Reunion on the 17th, Nelson will also perform the night before at the annual Potluck fundraiser, a seated dinner featuring acclaimed chefs from Austin and beyond. Proceeds benefit Farm Aid, Wholesome Wave and the Texas Food and Wine Alliance.
Following two years of virtual gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Durniak and Luck partner Matt Bizer are making good on long-standing plans to utilize the ranch for more than just Luck Reunion with its new Luck Presents’ Spring Concert Series, featuring Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (March 18), Shakey Graves and Friends (March 19) and Modest Mouse (April 29). Additional participants will be announced soon. “We’re trying to give people more of an opportunity to enjoy both the ranch and great music, outside of the Reunion itself,” Durniak says.
“Luck is the kind of place where you just never know what is going to happen,” adds Bizer. “We have greeted Jimmy Kimmel and friends at 2 a.m. at the gates asking where the party went, watched unnamed artists do their entire set on acid and have even had to talk a sheriff or two out of unplugging our headliners. Luck has a way of sending everyone home with a story, and we couldn’t be more proud to be entrusted with holding space for it.”