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Best Virtual Event: Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic

Best Virtual Event: Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic

(Sponsored by Weird Homes Tour)

Luck Presents, the production company of Matt Bizar and Willie Nelson's grandniece Ellee Fletcher Durniak, offered a path forward as one of the first organizations to reset to the new livestream reality for live music. The crew quickly adjusted with the March cancellation of their SXSW-adjacent Luck Reunion to present the virtual event 'Til Further Notice and April's Come & Toke It. The pinnacle followed when they ensured Willie's annual Fourth of July Picnic continued in a time of artistic and basic need.

Hosted hilariously haphazardly by Nelson scions Lukas and Micah from the Luck clubhouse at the family's Spicewood movie-set town, the event combined live performances with a Charlie Sexton-led backing band before a two-hour recorded finale of superstars and the Family Band closing out from the Pedernales Studio. Production leaned into the meta-moment, with Robert Earl Keen fronting the band virtually on a TV, creating a screen of a screen ... of a screen, while stage footlights reflected on the television as if it were all happening in real time.

Not without its glitches, the stream provided crucial continuity of tradition, with a homespun and creative twist that added a new element to Nelson's hallowed show for fans. – Doug Freeman

RUNNERS-UP: A Night for Austin, Black Everythang Matters, Blues on the Screen and HOME Cookin' for the Holidays
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