Wille, contemplating the paradox of Independance Day.
It's easy to take things for granted - even things you love dearly. So a big Willie Nelson show might not make your ears perk up. If you love the red-and-gray-headed stranger, you have probably caught him in the act more than once. Plus, this is his annual Fourth of July hoedown, which is a mixed blessing - yeah, there are a lot of good supporting acts, but this is Texas, outdoors ... in July ... we're talking about.

I have five words for your been-there, done-that attitude: Neil Young and freaking Crazy Horze. I'm sorry, that's six words. Now, I've been to the big Picnic before, and I remember a lot of good-timing drunks yee-hawing to honky-tonk music - and it just might be worth the sunburn to see the jaws drop when Neil and company open a can of feedback on that crowd.

With The Dead (7/4),
Neil Young (7/5)
Friday, July
Saturday, July 5
$49 one-day pass
$80 two-day pass
1-888-597-STAR or
Two River Canyon Amphitheater
11750 Hwy. 71 West, Spicewood
It should be noted that this year's picnic is a two-day affair, and that the other day is co-headlined by that famous jam-band whose leader died. Didn't they once say that they weren't going to keep going after his death? Did they run out of marijuana money that quickly? Regardless, it's an affront to country music lovers that a reincarnated but truncated Grateful Dead should get top billing over Merle Haggard. 'Nuff said.

If Neil and Merle aren't enough to help prospective picnickers decide whether or not to attend, here are a few more names:

July 4: Bells of Joy, Johnny Bush, Geezinslaws, Pat Green, James Hand, Ray Price, Kimmie Rhodes, Leon Russell, South Austin Jug Band, and Toby Keith.

July 5: Cross Canadian Ragweed, Del Castillo, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Jeaf Haney Band, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Los Lonely Boys, Cory Morrow, Paula Nelson, Waylon Payne, Matt Powell, Pauline Reese, Billy Joe Shaver, Billy Bob Thornton, and Titty Bingo. Whew! •

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