TJ WEST: Storming Through SXSW

Press passs
By Kim Grant

Apparently, I’ve been going to SXSW for over 10 years, as my music-loving friend, Rob McCann reminded me when he celebrated his 10th year at the music conference recently.  This doesn’t hold a candle to the many years the industry vets I know have accumulated, but still, ten years is long time.

This was the 4th year that Julie Richmond (Carolina Chickadee Presents) and I have co-hosted a free/no-wristband needed day party at Maria’s Taco Xpress on S. Lamar.  I usually invite 3-4 artists or bands that I am working with at KG Music Press and Julie and her intrepid booking skills take care of the rest.  Julie also booked a party at Dogwood Tavern this year for the first time and between the two-day parties I saw so much great music I didn’t need to run around trying to fit in an impossible to keep schedule (Full list below). And yes, Hayes Carll did just drop by to hang and watch John Evans’ set.

This year marked my first year going to Willie Nelson’s party held at his ranch in Luck, Texas, called The Luck Reunion it was held Friday, March 18th and was an all day into the night event.  It boasted 35 bands on 3 stages, vendors, pop-up shops, food trucks and free booze!

Mainstage lineup list
Luck Ranch 2
Weed sign
General Store
Third Man Records booth
I attended the event alongside two pals, Todd Kivi and Kelley Martin. Todd and I chose to shuttle it up to the ranch, and were planning on being there by noon, but due to unfortunate shuttle organization we didn’t arrive until 2:30pm.  We had just enough time to get the lay of the land, grab a Tito’s vodka and catch a set by Aaron Lee Tasjan with Brian Wright and a set by John Fullbright before a freak storm threatened the event.

aaron Lee Tasjan with Brian Wright
Inside Tito's vodka

Luck Fire Marshalls made everyone take shelter in the structures of the ranch before deciding they weren’t safe and they needed everyone to get to their cars or onto the shuttle bus.  Even though we shuttled, Todd and I joined Kelly at the golf course (Willie Nelson’s Cut-N-Putt) where they had parking for those who drove up.  We waited out the crazy lightning storm in the lot for awhile trying to catch word on the concert—“Would they or wouldn’t they re-open the doors?”

This is where I learned of Poodies. Hilltop Roadhouse. Poodies, named after Poodie Locke, who was the longtime stage manager for Willie Nelson, is located just down the road from the ranch in Spicewood, TX (25 miles west of Austin).  With music held nightly, it sounded like the perfect place to wait out the storm.

Word on the street was that the musicians from the show were going to come on down to Poodies and take over the stage.  “It’s been known to happen,” said the woman taking our $10 cover. We were delighted to find out that the musical guest that evening was none other than the great Dale Watson (a performer I interviewed for TJ West when he came through L.A.)  We were still waiting on the word that the ranch would re-open its doors and we’d be let back in, but we were happy to be settling in at Poodies where it was warm, dry and we could have a cocktail while we waited on Dale Watson to start his set.

It was in the bathroom of Poodies that I met a girl named, Lissie.  “Did you come from Luck Reunion?” she asked, “It was so crazy!  They asked me to do an acoustic set in the tent, with no electricity!”  Apparently, Lissie entertained the crowd that had to wait on the grounds to be shuttled away and the set was so good Paste Magazine named it one of the top 20 shows of SXSW.

Back at the bar, I spot Billy Joe Shaver near the door.  “Kelley!  It’s Billy Joe Shaver!” Just as she also spots him, he heads out the door.  I’ve never seen anyone move so fast—quick as the lightning happening outside—Kelley ran outdoors and chases him down.  She actually stood in front of his white van waving her arms so that the driver had to stop.  “Billy Joe Shaver,” she asked him, “What’s the word on the concert?”  “I sure don’t know, darling,” was his response, “but I’ve been called back up there.  I’d be just as happy to be waiting down here with you.”

Back inside, Dale Watson took the stage and with no word on the Luck Reunion, we decided to settle in and watch the show.  The Dale Watson set was great, we met some really nice Texans (one, Uncle Freddy, didn’t believe the San Gabriel Mountains that I live near could actually reach 10,064 ft), and we got to see some real Texas two-stepping.  I have a mother from Lubbock, Texas who loved to dance, and taught me how to two-step many moons ago, but no one asked me to dance.

We got word the next day that the Luck Reunion had continued on, and although they moved from the Main stage to the Revival stage, the show was stellar.

John fullbright 2

Just my “luck.”


Dogwood Days Afternoon party*
Wednesday 3/16 at Dogwood Tavern on West 6th and presented by Ideal Productions and Carolina Chickadee Presents.

Ted Russell Kamp//Oh Whitney//Caleb Caudle//Scott Davis//The Band of Heathens//Jon Dee Graham & William Harries Graham//Mike Stinson//Brian Whelan//Kevin Gordon

Jaimee Harris//Bonnie Whitmore//Jon Byrd//John Evans//The Statesboro Revue//Jeff Crosby//Flatland Cavalry//James Hand

Grand Ole Austin Afternoon party
Thursday 3/17 at Maria’s Taco Xpress and presented by KG Music Press and Carolina Chickadee Presents.

Jeff Crosby//Beth Lee and The Breakups//Caleb Caudle//Courtney Patton & Jason Eady//The Surreal McCoys//Statesboro Review//Mike Stinson//Brian Whelan//Corb Lund//Oh Whitney//Jason James

Willie Nelson Luck Reunion
Heavens Jail//Rob Baird//The Black Lilllies//Andrew Combs//Indianola//Ray Wylie Hubbard//Daniel Romano//Lily Meola//Shelly Colvin//Matthew Logan Vasquez//Horse Thief//Lissie//Jonny Burke//T Hardy Morris//Holly Macve//Jaimie Lin Wilson//Ciaran Lavery//Erika Wennerstrom//Amasa Hines//Sam Outlaw//Jonny Fritz//Dylan Leblanc//Aaron Lee Tasjan//Margo Price//Robert Ellis//John Fullbright//Jack Ingram//Parker Millsap//Joe Pug//Alberta Crosss//Insects vs Robots//Doyle Bramhall II//John Moreland//Billy Joe Shaver//Blistzen Trapper//Lucius//Jenny Lewis//Willie Nelson and Family



Kim Grant is a music publicist and Americana music enthusiast who created the Los Angeles live show, The Grand Ole Echo. You can find her at


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