Off and on for 41 years now, Willie Nelson has been hosting a yearly Fourth of July Picnic. Starring himself and his friends, the inaugural 1973 event brought the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings, John Prine, and Doug Sahm to a ranch in Dripping Springs, while the following year's shindig saw Townes Van Zandt, Jimmy Buffett, and Kinky Friedman serenading the Aggies in College Station. (That may have been the show in which Van Zandt walked out on stage and told the crowd, "I understand you people don't want to be called Aggies anymore, so hello, all you Agro-Americans.")
Through the decades the Picnic has played a vital role in spotlighting progressive country, and though it's been held in Fort Worth the past three years, and will again this year, the show helped cement Austin's place as an American music mecca back in the 1980s.
As usual, there is a little something for every variant of twang aficionado. For the traditionalists, there are Johnny Bush, Charlie Pride, and Nelson himself. If you like your country slick there's Dierks Bentley, and if you like it ornery as a warthog there's David Allan Coe. All that plus neo-trad stars Ryan Bingham and Jamey Johnson, sly old Ray Wylie Hubbard, and rising red-dirt Texas music stars Josh Abbott Band.