Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show and Dawes headline
The Columbus stop on this touring show didn't manage to snag Robert Plant, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Earle, Hayes Carll or Colter Wall, who are hitting up other cities. Still, the Columbus lineup of Outlaw Fest isn't too shabby. Alison Krauss is a national treasure, Old Crow Medicine Show will please the bluegrass crowd, and Dawes will please people who like harmonies but also find Wilco too adventurous.
I lost interest in the Avett Brothers around the time Rick Rubin got involved, but if you've got a hankerin' for stompy folk-rock made for arenas instead of barns, I'd opt for the Avetts over Mumford any day. But there's really only one artist on this bill who can accurately claim the “outlaw” moniker, and that's Willie Nelson. After all, this is the guy who, alongside Waylon Jennings and others, made the 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws.
“I guess you could say I'm a loner/A cowboy outlaw, tough and proud,” Nelson sings on “It's Hard to Be Humble” off new album Ride Me Back Home, which comes out two days before this show and also includes a heartbreaking version of Guy Clark's “My Favorite Picture of You.” I fell for Willie's music the day I heard his 1975 album Red-Headed Stranger, a sparse concept album that puts Nelson's trademark Lonestar-nasal vocals and underrated nylon-string guitar work nice and high in the mix.
It's also not far-fetched to think this may be the last opportunity to catch this country music legend in Columbus (Nelson turned 86 in April). Nelson, though, seems to take aging in stride on Ride Me back Home track “Come on Time”: “I say come on time, I've beat you before.” (Don't miss it)