The eighth annual Luck Reunion was supposed to attract round 4,000 individuals to Willie Nelson’s Texas ranch this week, with a lineup that included Nelson, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, and extra. Those plans, after all, went out the window on account of COVID-19.
Instead of canceling altogether, the small Luck Team — headed up by founders Matt Bizer and Ellee Fletcher — determined to get artistic, reviving the pageant as a livestream live performance, with performers broadcasting from their properties for charity. The outcome was extra impactful than any conventional pageant may have been. With Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson internet hosting from Austin’s Arlyn Studios, artists checked in from round the world: Tami Nelson belted a fiery set from a file retailer in New Zealand; Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, and their daughter Lulu harmonized the Everly Brothers’ “Dream” with Woody Harrelson in Hawaii. The format was endearingly unfastened — the good reminder that we’re all on this collectively.
Artists carried out from their properties, with minimal manufacturing. Williams performed a sparse, electrifying set from her house, below a portray of Jesus with an electrical guitar. It was unclear if she knew she was being filmed between songs, however her banter together with her band — likening the coronavirus to roaches (“There’s an old saying back home in Louisiana: You can live in a mansion or a shack, you’re still going to have roaches”) — felt like the beginnings of a tune. Margo Price and husband Jeremy Ivey tried out some attractive new songs at their house piano, with a child monitor shut by. (They gave a window into their household dynamic; after Ivey made some dad jokes, Price rolled her eyes. “He hasn’t even had any weed,” she mentioned.) Price additionally shouted out Fiona Prine, who was initially presupposed to be at Luck with husband John, however is now at house in Nashville recovering from the virus. Tre Burt fingerpicked a strong set of ballads regardless of a grainy digital camera connection. Nikki Lane apologized to viewers that she hadn’t turned in the music video she’d put collectively for the broadcast in time, after which filmed it enjoying from her laptop together with her iPhone. It didn’t matter; it was nonetheless nice.
How did they pull it off? “We set up a mini TV studio, pulled together by friends,” founder Bizer explains. “Essentially, I screened people that called in on their Skypes, etc., and then pushed them over to an engineer with multiple feeds, and he switched between them all. Sort of a tiny team effort.” Bizer had a name with Paul Simon the day earlier than, who wanted to pre-tape his efficiency on account of a shaky web connection. (“They were all so sweet,” Bizer says.) That was when Simon determined to ask his neighbor Harrelson over at the final minute. “He was like, ‘I’m gonna go next door and invite Woody,’” Bizer says.
“Catastrophes seem to favor us,” says Fletcher, recalling a vicious storm that threatened the pageant just a few years in the past. “We thought the crazy storm year of Luck in 2016 ended up being the most memorable and special of them all, but weirdly the year of no Luck is pretty up there for us. It was just really special to see our team rallying around this superfast idea, our fans coming to the plate to donate to artists, and our creative community coming together to just try to create a bright spot in this weird-ass time.”
Some artists known as in for shock performances. Neil Young carried out a stunning hearth model of 1974’s “Vampire Blues,” one in every of the few instances he’s carried out it acoustically. But the spotlight was Willie, Lukas, and Micah Nelson. Sitting in the Texas lounge the place they grew up enjoying music collectively, they launched into Willie’s most important dwell opener, “Whiskey River.” WiIlie’s voice was robust, and he regarded thrilled to be at work once more. (“Dad would never have [taken time off], and we would have never had this time if we had not been forced to,” Lukas told RS.)
“Stay safe and stay sober,” Willie advised his viewers earlier than cracking up. Next, his sons performed their very own originals: Micah performed “Everything Is Bullshit”; and Lukas performed his transferring ballads, “Set Me Down on a Cloud” and “Just Outside of Austin.” (“That’s a good song,” his father advised him.) Lukas wrapped with “Turn Off the News (And Build a Garden),” which incorporates the line: “I just want to love you while I can/All these other thoughts have me confused/I don’t need to try and understand/Maybe I’ll get up, turn off the news.”
“Watching the broadcast go so well last night really gave me hope that the musical world will be able to be a major healing force and remind us not to lose our humanity during this time,” says Lukas. “As soon as this is over and it’s safe, I’m going to run out and hug friends, kiss them, and be more grateful for the physical act of love than I ever have. I hope to see many pictures like the famous kiss at the end of WWII.”
The Luck Reunion remains to be out there to stream on Twitch. Venmo donations went to the artists and their favourite charities; at press time, they raised greater than $190,000.