2018-03-19T00:07:36Z 2018-03-19T00:07:36Z

Luck Reunion Music Festival 2018 in Spicewood, Texas

Luck Reunion
The Luck Reunion Music Festival 2018 at Willie Nelson's Luck Texas Ranch in Spicewood, Texas on March 15, 2018.

While the chaotic buzz of SXSW raged in downtown Austin, attracting crowds of hundreds of thousands, a smaller group of about 3,000 music lovers gathered for a much more intimate scene, the Luck Reunion, an annual excursion held at Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood, Texas.

For the seventh year, attendees traveled from near and far to be a part of the festival, drawn by its quality performers and laid back vibe. Originally a movie set, the layout of the ranch features rustic saloons and barns that create an authentic old-timey Austin environment.

The festival was produced by Ellee Fletcher, Matt Bizer, Scott Marsh and Nelson's wife Annie, and headlined by Willie Nelson himself. Four stages positioned in close proximity with each other showcased over three dozen artists, assuring there was never a pause in the fun. The diverse lineup featured everything from classic country to bluesy rock, performed by emerging groups intermixed with well-known bands. In addition to great music, festival goers enjoyed a wide array of mouthwatering cuisine and drinks, from authentic Tex-Mex to new-school barbecue and Indian food.

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Luck Reunion 2018 lineup

  • Willie Nelson  
  • Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
  • Kurt Vile  
  • Margo Price
  • Nikki Lane  
  • Waxahatchee  
  • Hiss Golden Messenger  
  • Paul Cook  
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band  
  • Ezra Furman  
  • John Paul White  
  • Paul Cauthen  
  • Aaron Lee Tasjan  
  • Ray Wylie Hubbard  
  • John Doe  
  • Cody Canada  
  • Kelly Willis  
  • The Texas Gentlemen  
  • Particle Kid  
  • Liz Cooper & the Stampede  
  • Blank Range  
  • Alta Mesa  
  • Son Little  
  • David Ramirez  
  • Twain  
  • Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real  
  • Joshua Hedley  
  • Kevin Morby  
  • Devon Gilfillian  
  • Erika Wennerstrom  
  • Lilly Hiatt  
  • Cut Worms  
  • Night Moves  
  • Hop Along  
  • Buck Meek  
  • Kevn Kinney  
  • Caleb Caudle  
  • Sam Lewis  
  • Courtney Marie Andrews  
  • Charley Whitten  
  • Michael Nau  
  • Sunny War
  • Billy Strings
  • Sam Lewis
  • Courtney Marie Andrews
  • Kevn Kinney

Luck Reunion contact
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Photos by Ralph Arvesen
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Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff established himself as a critically celebrated folksy Americana singer/songwriter on 2010's In Memory of Loss, his Rounder Records debut. Though he played in straight-ahead rock & roll bands before then, his independent releases since have been of intimate, poignant, and pensive songs.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Kurt Vile
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer, Kurt Vile is known for his solo work and as the former lead guitarist of rock band The War on Drugs. Influenced by Pavement, Neil Young, Tom Petty, and John Fahey, Vile began his musical career creating lo-fi home recordings with frequent collaborator Adam Granduciel in Philadelphia. Focusing on his solo career, Vile released two albums, Constant Hitmaker (2008) and God Is Saying This to You... (2009), compiling various home recordings dating back to 2003. Vile signed to Matador Records in 2009, and released his third album, Childish Prodigy, that same year.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Margo Price
Margo Price might be something of a throwback, not only styling her country music after the classic sounds of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and Emmylou Harris, but also writing like a classic '70s singer/songwriter. She has an eye for details and a knack for narrative that help keep her brand of traditionalism from seeming like nostalgia on her debut, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, an album recorded at Sun Studios and released on Jack White's Third Man Records in 2016.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real
Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real is an American rock group based in California. The band consists of Lukas Nelson (vocals/guitar), Anthony LoGerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass), and Tato Melgar (percussion). Lukas is a son of country music legend Willie Nelson. The band backed Canadian musician Neil Young on his thirty-sixth studio album, The Monsanto Years, and the tour which followed.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter‘s acclaimed 20-year career as a songwriter and musician reaches new heights with the release of his ninth full-length album, Gathering. Along with his loyal band mates, the Royal City Band, Josh returned to the studio with more songs than he’d ever had before at one time. Re-energized after a recent collaboration with legendary musician Bob Weir (who also contributes vocals and guitar to a song on Gathering) and, at the same time, tired of living in the shadow of his earlier self, Josh felt charged with exploring the possibility of cutting himself loose from his own and others’ expectations. In his words, "I began with an exciting sense of dissatisfaction, and what emerged, as I began to find my voice, was a record full of storms. I still can’t tell what era these stories are from. They feel part roustabout, part psalm to me."

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Hiss Golden Messenger & Phil Cook
A vehicle for singer/songwriter Michael Taylor (M.C. Taylor) and multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer Scott Hirsch, Hiss Golden Messenger's fusion of classic rock, folk-pop, and sparse blues in various guises has seen Taylor compared to the likes of lo-fi legends Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Bill Callahan. Born and raised in Southern California, Taylor was inspired to pick up the guitar by his musician father, who had previously played in the Settlers, a pop outfit that once opened for John Denver. His first musical outing was with Scott Hirsch in the hardcore punk band Ex-Ignota. But the influences of the Beatles, the Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield proved too strong to ignore. He began writing his own songs, and in his late teens he moved to San Francisco, where he fronted the country-rock outfit the Court and Spark, who released four critically acclaimed albums before disbanding in 2007.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Particle Kid
Micah Nelson comes from a lineage of musical and cultural pioneers, growing up touring with his father Willie Nelson and his brother Lukas Nelson, he has always been surrounded with vibrant and authentic creative spirits. Both a talented visionary artist and iconoclastic musician, he has performed with various acts at events like FarmAid, Neil Young’s Bridge-School Benefit, Desert Trip festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Coachella, Bonnaroo Festival as well as shows like Conan O'brien, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and more.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Ezra Furman
Chicagoan Ezra Furman’s second solo album ‘Day Of The Dog’ has finally gained him the attention that he deserves. Two BBC 6 Music sessions with Marc Riley and Marc’s enthusiastic support have helped spread the word. Extensive touring with his band the Boy Friends in the UK and Europe in 2014 has built up a dedicated live following and a growing reputation as one of the most exciting live acts around. Ezra’s emotional honesty, howling intensity, frailty and humour combined with the bands honking rock’n’roll have proved irresistible.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Paul Cauthen
Paul Cauthen remembers sitting alone in an Austin house after a weekend-long bender. A life making music seemed to be slipping away. Wide awake with nothing to lose, he fell on his hands and knees right there, bowed his head, and threw down a divine gauntlet. “I dared Him,” Cauthen says, recalling his desperate challenge to God. “I said, ‘Use me. I’ll be a rag doll. Just put me out there, let’s go. I dare you.’” Most people don't plead in the form of a dare. That blend of vulnerability and brash confidence is part of what makes Cauthen and his music, which often hinges on the same paradox, so compelling.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Aaron Lee Tasjan
Aaron Lee Tasjan is a guitarist and songwriter whose solo output blends blues, country-rock, and a '70s influence that recalls singer/songwriters like Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman. As a guitarist, he's played with a wide array of bands, including Alberta Cross and the New York Dolls. The Smile & Nod EP Born and raised in New Albany, Ohio outside of Columbus, Tasjan started playing guitar at the age of 11. Self-taught, he opened for Peter Yarrow and won a guitar competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center by the time he was 16. After graduating from high school, he recorded and released The Smile and Nod E.P. in the fall of 2005 before relocating to Brooklyn.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Hop Along
Philadelphia's Hop Along meld the captivating, idiosyncratic vocals of singer/songwriter/guitarist Frances Quinlan with heavy doses of sincerity and explosiveness to form a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants indie rock. The group metamorphosed from Quinlan's quirky, lo-fi indie folk solo project called Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, which released one album, Freshman Year, in 2005. Her brother Mark Quinlan joined her on drums in 2008, Tyler Long was added on bass in 2009, the name was shortened to Hop Along, and the band was born. After releasing the EPs Wretches and Is Something Wrong? in 2009, their first band full-length, Get Disowned, was recorded piecemeal over a two-year period at Headroom Studios in Philadelphia, and released in 2012 to a warm reception by the indie music press. Joe Reinhart joined the lineup on guitar, and in the fall of 2014, Hop Along signed to Saddle Creek Records. Their sophomore album, the musically and lyrically raw Painted Shut, followed in 2015.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Son Little
Son Little, the singer and songwriter born Aaron Livingston, is the easygoing musical alchemist of our time. He is a conjurer, and much like those of his heroes Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, his songs are deconstructions of the diaspora of American R&B. Since releasing his debut EP, Things I Forgot, as well as his 2015 debut self-titled album, Son Little has amassed nearly 10 million online streams and toured the world with the likes of Leon Bridges, Mumford & Sons, Kelis, and Shakey Graves. Beyond his own music, Son Little is also a Grammy-winning producer, earning a 2016 Best Roots Performance award for his work on Mavis Staples’ “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Devon Gilfillian
Devon Gilfillian fires twin barrels of gospel-blues and southern soul on his debut EP. Fueled by groove, guitar, and the powerful punch of Gilfillian's voice, the songs shine a light on a young songwriters who grew up outside of Philadelphia, absorbing everything from the R&B swagger of Al Green and Ray Charles to the rock & roll heroics of Jimi Hendrix. Now based in Nashville, Gilfillian puts a personalized stamp on those childhood influences, rolling them into five original songs that showcase not only his songwriting and singing, but also his talent as an instrumentalist.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Cut Worms
Borrowing a term from a William Blake poem, indie singer/songwriter Max Clarke began working under the name Cut Worms while studying illustration at Chicago's Columbia College. Clarke's relaxed style has its roots in the tuneful work of '50s and '60s artists like Harry Nilsson and the Everly Brothers. Inspired by an overly prolific musical roommate, he challenged himself to write and record two new songs each month on a digital eight-track, which he uploaded without any real expectations to his BandCamp site. In late 2015, Clarke relocated to New York and began building up his reputation as a performer while his charming lo-fi demos made the rounds. He eventually landed a deal with Jagjaguwar Records, which collated six of his best Chicago-era demos into Cut Worms' debut EP, Alien Sunset, in October 2017.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

David Ramirez
We’re Not Going Anywhere: At a historical moment of immense political, social, and ecological uncertainty, those four simple words comprise both a promise and a protest, a comforting reassurance of inclusion as well as a hearty cry of defiance. It’s a statement that offers no small sense of hope, in that sense matching the music contained on the album.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Billy Strings
Billy Strings plays hard and he lives hard, picking so fast and intensely that he’s known to break multiple strings per song, and basing the songs he writes on the hard lives he grew up around in the abandoned rural communities of America. His new album, Turmoil & Tinfoil, taps into a deep vein of psychedelia in Americana, referencing everything from the Dead to Sturgill Simpson, but all underlaid by Billy’s undeniable virtuosity and his knowledge of the roots of American music. He’s one of the most beloved young bluegrass guitarists today within the bluegrass community, and his front porch in East Nashville is constantly filled up with Nashville’s best roots musicians just picking up a storm.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

The Texas Gentlemen
A celebrated studio band that took the next step and became performers on-stage, the Texas Gentlemen are a group of musicians who backed some of the biggest names in Lone Star music before striking out on their own. The story of the Texas Gentlemen begins with Beau Patrick Bedford, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer from Dallas who first made his way into the music business playing in Jonathan Tyler's road band, the Northern Lights. After heading out on his own in 2009, Bedford started producing sessions for other artists, beginning with R&B vocalist Larry Gee. As Bedford developed a reputation for his production skills with acts such as Kirby Brown, the Dovetails, the Roomsounds, and Paul Cauthen, he began working with an informal collection of local players who showed exceptional versatility and worked well together, developing a cohesive sound that set them apart from the sterile technique of many studio pickers.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Night Moves
Minneapolis country-leaning indie band Night Moves were formed by three high-school friends in 2010. Guitarist/lead vocalist John Pelant, bassist Mickey Alfano, and multi-instrumentalist Mark Ritsema had all played in various Twin Cities bands like the Battle Royale and Mouthful of Bees before coming together to form Night Moves. Rather than build their chops through frequent live performances, the bandmembers opted instead to practice and write diligently in their beginning phases. They carried this practice over into the recording of their debut album, Colored Emotions, which the band spent months meticulously piecing together before issuing it for free online in the summer of 2011. Responses to the album were great and the band was quickly signed to Domino Records, which issued a remixed, slightly reworked version of the album in October of 2012. Joined by drummer Josh Evert and auxiliary player Jared Isabella, the band toured extensively in support of the album. In March 2016, Night Moves returned with their second album, Pennied Days, which revealed a greater pop feel than the group's debut.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Liz Cooper & The Stampede
“It started with golf clubs and country clubs, but now it’s all rock clubs,” Liz says, giggling. She spent the majority of her life developing her golf skills, only to drop her college scholarship to move to Nashville and pursue music. “Writing songs and playing the guitar came as naturally to me as golf did. But music tickled my brain in a way nothing else ever could.” But, Liz didn’t know a soul in Nashville when she moved. So, she went and got a job at a familiar place: a country club. “Liz may not have known anyone when she moved here,” says the Stampede low-end provider Grant. “But now, I feel like she knows pretty much every person she walks past. She just doesn’t stop smiling, and people don’t stop smiling back.”

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Erika Wennerstrom
There's something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo, especially a band whose latest record was called "effortlessly brilliant" by critics. But, such is the case with Erika Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver her solo debut Sweet Unknown. "It was a really freeing experience," reveals the singer/songwriter/guitarist. "I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet. It's easy to feel comfortable in a band, but it's scary to do it as just yourself. I feel like I've grown a lot creatively and personally."

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Buck Meek
Buck Meek’s songs are for the lost dogs of honest mechanics, good guys born into a life of crime, runaways, snow spirits, the ghosts of Central Park, line cooks, unsung diving board stars, the affection shared through gambling, ancient love, etc. Bred in Texas, more bread in New York City, he spins outlaw ballads and grunge into a yarn, with Adam Brisbin on guitar (Jolie Holland, Sam Evian), Mat Davidson on bass (Twain, The Low Anthem, Spirit Family Reunion), and Austin Vaughn on drums (Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple, Sam Evian).

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Blank Range
"It's a snapshot of transition, of worldview formation, of deciding which questions to try to answer, and which ones to leave alone." That's Grant Gustafson (guitar/vocals), theorizing about the genesis of Blank Range's new EP, Vista Bent. Blank Range was born in Nashville in 2012, by accident. Jonathon Childers (guitar/vocals) and Matt Novotny (drums/vocals) were touring the Southeast with their college band, and through an acquaintance, stayed at Grant's on their way through Nashville. The last stop on the tour after Nashville was a Memphis house show that was canceled, leaving Childers and Novotny in Nashville for a few more days than originally planned. The seeds of the band-to-be were planted during those days and within six months, Childers and Novotny moved to Nashville. Blank Range was formed shortly thereafter as two separate creative conversations fused into a conversation between two front men and two songwriters.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Altamesa
Altamesa is a Cosmic Americana and Rock & Roll band from Austin, Texas that mixes the production values of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Big Star with the songwriting sensibilities of Neil Young and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Founded as a solo project in 2015 by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Evan Charles, the band has solidified it’s lineup to include as a permanent member Happen-Ins frontman, guitarist, and songwriter Sean Faires. After receiving 4 stars in the Austin Chronicle for the debut solo record The Long Ride Home, Charles and Faires have reshaped the Altamesa sound for their next, unreleased record, Idol Frontier, which will place heavier emphasis on vocal harmonies and guitar interplay while still maintaining the high standard of songwriting that was at the core of the first record’s local critical success.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Thomas Csorba
Thomas Csorba is an Americana artist from Houston, TX who grew up listening to artists like Townes Van Zandt, Buddy Holly, and Woodie Guthrie. Soon after immersing himself in these artists' work, he felt compelled to start making music of his own. He released his debut EP, "Kentucky", in the spring of 2014. With this release, he secures his place among the storied voices of folk and Americana music. Melancholy and nostalgic, this songs are written for old souls. Csorba's songs -- rustic, honest, and as mournful as they are sweet -- recall the best of the artists he admired as a kid. "Kentucky", in that great tradition, is the offering of a man both weary and hopeful, a traveller on a long journey home. With the release of his sophomore album "Hard Truths and Noble Lies" the following year, Csorba continues to show his skills both lyrically and vocally.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Lilly Hiatt
Rootsy singer/songwriter Lilly Hiatt had a lot to live up to when she chose to make music her career -- her father is John Hiatt, one of America's leading songwriters since the '70s. Lilly was born in early 1984 at a chaotic time in her family's life -- only a few months after she was born, her father checked himself into rehab to deal with a long-standing addiction to alcohol, and not long after he emerged clean and sober, Lilly's mother (who was estranged from John) took her own life. The Hiatts moved to Nashville as John set out to put his life back together, and Lilly grew up as her father began enjoying a new level of success as a musician and songwriter, as well as a new stability in his personal life. Lilly attended high school in Nashville, and later studied in Colorado at the University of Denver, where she decided she wanted to go professional as a musician. She made her recording debut in 2008, singing backing vocals on her father's album Same Old Man, and she began playing out with her own band. In 2011, Lilly Hiatt & the Dropped Ponies struck a deal with Normaltown Records, a subsidiary of New West Records, and the following year they released their debut album, Let Down. After plenty of touring (including several dates opening for her father), Lilly returned in 2015 with her second album, Royal Blue. After Hiatt herself beat a troublesome drinking problem, her experiences formed the basis of her third album, 2017's Trinity Lane.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Kevn Kinney
Kevn Kinney was the lead singer of the Atlanta rock band Drivin' n' Cryin', but since the band's 1986 inception he's released some spare acoustic records on his own, often collaborating with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. MacDougal Blues for Island in 1990 announced the rocker's arrival on the folk scene with the engaging title cut and nine more acoustic tracks produced by Buck and mostly played by his bandmates from Drivin' n' Cryin'.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Caleb Caudle
Equally inspired by American indie, classic rock, and roots rock, singer/songwriter Caleb Caudle carved out a cult following with his 2010s albums Carolina Ghost and Crushed Coins. At its core, his songcraft is indebted to the Americana of the 21st century -- it has echoes of Ryan Adams and Jason Isbell -- but his records blend elements of the burnished country-rock of the '70s with spooky modern rock, creating a distinctive roots sound.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Courtney Marie Andrews
Courtney Marie Andrews spent over nine months of 2017 on the road, with multiple trips across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. That’s nothing new for Andrews, though. She’s been touring relentlessly since leaving her Arizona hometown at 16. It’s a life that inspired much of her 2016 breakthrough album, Honest Life. While that album’s themes spoke to the isolation and rootlessness inherent in a life on the road, most of its songs were actually written during an intentional, extended break. The success that followed its release, however, didn’t afford her the same break to write the material for her new album.

Luck Reunion Music Festival

Sam Lewis
Like many before him, Sam Lewis came to Nashville to make music. But unlike the majority, Lewis managed to hop on one of the most successful tours that country music has seen as of late. He’s collaborated with everyone from John Prine and Kacey Musgraves to The Wood Brothers. Chris Stapleton dubbed him “a modern Townes Van Zandt”. And while he’s often labeled with some form of the word ‘soulful’ (some have even compared his voice to molasses), Lewis’ style meets at a juncture of many different genres. There’s something about Sam Lewis that is indescribably different -- and with his newest project, he’s discovered what most musicians spend lifetimes working for -- the place where feel-good music meets vital social commentary.

Luck Reunion Music Festival


Additional photos from the Luck Reunion

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