By Anna Marie Bolet, Rock At Night Jacksonville
Luck Reunion Live Stream, March 19, 2020
This year’s Luck Reunion wasn’t going to be held back over social distancing, instead the self-described ‘Anti-Festival’ went virtual and graced the homes of 100,000 viewers last night, proving once again that music never dies.
Very few things can replace the feeling we get from listening to live music at our favorite venue. Even when the crowds are thick at a festival, and you’re hot and sweaty and wishing the person next to you would stop stepping on your feet, once that first note is played, we all become united in a big and wonderful way.
Coronavirus may have put a kink in our live music schedule, but last night these talented and generous artists united us in spite of it. We’ll get through this.
Thursday’s production was offered for free and in real time and also featured a digital tip jar that encouraged viewers to ‘pass the boot’ via Venmo donations (@Luck-Reunion) where proceeds will benefit several charities, among them Farm Aid.
While some artists chose to pre-record their act, others streamed live from their phones or laptops, giving us a peak into their living rooms, bedrooms, studios and adding a certain level of humanity that was truly touching. Newcomer, Tré Burt, who’s record, “Caught it from the Rye”, debut’s today was simply endearing as he worried about whether or not his phone was on. Tré… your phone was on and you most likely won over 100,000 more fans as you played your sweet songs on that 12 string.
And speaking of winning over new fans, artists the likes of Willie Nelson, Jewel and Nathanial Rateliff came together to deliver messages of hope – “stay safe, we’re all in this together” – while Paul Cauthen sipped East Texas Moonshine in between songs, Lucius’s cat made an appearance during their 2nd song and Jeremy Ivy had to move their baby monitor aside to be able to get to the piano. While it’s only been a few days of Social Distancing, watching artists making the same adjustments we are all having to make as we face this thing together made me scream for joy while I FaceTime’d my friends to say ‘Did you just see that?’
Here are some highlights of last night’s performances –
Belting it out like an opera singer, Tami Neilson and her big beautiful beehive gave us a touching rendition of “Keep On”, invoking her daddy. It’s been said that ‘no one forgets the first time they hear Tami Neilson’ and last night, singing from what looked like a record store, I’ll certainly never forget. Her album, Chickaboom! dropped early February.
Lucinda Williams out of East Nashville gave us “Bad News Blues” from her upcoming album, David Ramirez crooned songs of love and loss and reminded us that “Easy Does It” will get us through while newcomer, Tré Burt, serenading from Sacramento, delivered a sound that was much like listening to Bob Dylan.
Wife-husband duo, Margo Price and Jeremy Ivey started their set with “1-800 Jesus”, singing from the just tidied up corner of their living room in Nashville. Early James put on a production from the studio offering up their brand of folk rock sprinkled with some fun, psychedelic music video transitions.
Jewel, like a Goddess, graced us from her candlelit bedroom with words of wisdom, reminding us to be kind to ourselves and to each other as lyrics “We are Never Broken” surely took on a new meaning for many of us. Paul Simon took a step out of retirement with singer-songwriter wife Edie Brickell and surprise cameo from Woody Harrelson to perform The Everly Brothers’ beloved tune, “All I do is Dream”. Earlier on Nathanial Ratecliff, visibly moved by our common circumstances, preformed songs from his new solo album, “And it’s Still Alright”, choking up as he said “… we’ll find a better way to understand ourselves and each other.”
A barefoot Neil Young, singing that “Good times are coming” from his track “Vampire Blues” took us all by surprise as he ushered in the final act, Willie Nelson and his sons Lukas and Micah. What a delight it was to watch as these incredibly talented musicians faced their challenge with technology with a grin and a lyric that told us to “Turn off the news / I just wanna love you while I can”. Starting off their set with our childhood favorite, “On the Road Again”, it was lovely to watch this family performing together songs like “Whiskey River” and “Just Outside of Austin”.
Like a phoenix from the ashes, Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion rose to deliver a show for all of us starving to get back into the Live Music scene. We got to listen to some incredibly unique acts, budding artists and well known singer-songwriters all lending their time for the love of music. As Willie Nelson thanked the audience for watching, we all thanked him for the keeping the torch burning.