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Outlaw Music Festival 2024: Cheers to the Old Gods and the New.

We’re witnessing the musical changing of the guard and it could not be a more excitingly bittersweet time to love music.

The 2024 line-up for the Outlaw Music Festival was nothing short of legendary rolling into Raleigh’s Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek; Celisse, Alisson Krause & Robert Plant, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson all taking the stage.

But as best laid plans are apt to do, the line up fell through.

The danger, you see, is in relying on octo- and nonagenarians for your entertainment is the general precarity of old age.

Friday, June 21st Willie Nelson’s team released a statement announcing the country singer’s departure from four of the ensuing tour dates due to medical concerns.

In his place, son Lukas Nelson and the Nelson Family Band stepped in with an abridged tribute set.

But it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing to let the younger Nelson take the stage in his father’s wake.

If anything, it reaffirmed what we already knew about Willie’s songs — they’re timeless country-western staples for a reason.

And more importantly, Lukas Nelson is far too talented to stay in his father’s shadow.

Freed from the albatross of an elderly father, Nelson’s voice quite literally soared through the shortened tribute set – simply put, he sounded like his father for a new age.

Waffling between original compositions and Willie-standards, Nelson was able to effortlessly bridge the divide between new fans and old, bouncing between the soulful growl present on Promise of The Real track “Find Yourself” to his father’s signature warble on songs like “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain.”

Speaking of soul, I would be remiss not to mention one of the freshest faces amongst the lineup: Celisse.

The Oakland born singer and guitarist easily won over unsure and unfamiliar audiences with more than just sweet talk and charm, she won them over with her sound.

Bombastic in every sense of the word, her belt and her shred equally silenced the normally rowdy “lawnies” of Coastal Credit Union – her cover of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” met with earthshaking applause and shouts.

For a woman who has been making music for well over a decade, touring as supporting acts for some of the biggest acts in folk and easy listening rock both old and new – Brandi Carlisle and Joni Mitchell, to name a few – I have a sneaking suspicion that Outlaw Music Festival is only the beginning of her just desserts.

So yes, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant were once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list artists to see, but perhaps more importantly, I walked away with not just hope, but a feverish excitement to see what the next wave of Americana, Soul and whatever-the-hell-else-you-want-to-call-it will be.

Long story short, it is sad to see the old god’s fade away, but my god, I cannot wait to see the nebulous eruptions of the new.

– Bodhi

By Bodhi

Human Dewey Decimal System for all things music and movies, purveyor of useless knowledge.