Willie Nelson, Randy Travis Headline July 4th Fests

A variety of country-music stars to gather in Chicago and Austin, Texas.

NASHVILLE — Lineups for Willie Nelson's July Fourth picnic in Austin, Texas, and the 10th annual Chicago Country Music Festival, held July 1–2, celebrate Independence Day with stellar lineups covering a variety of country styles.

Some 40 acts will jam with Nelson at his newfound venue, Southpark Meadows, in South Austin. Nelson was forced to seek an alternate site when officials in Hays County, outside Austin, refused to grant him a permit to hold the affair in Dripping Springs, where the first Picnic was held, in 1972. Southpark Meadows is a new amphitheater developed by the House of Blues.

Shelby Lynne, whose recent recordings include "Leavin' " (RealAudio excerpt), will join Jonny Lang, Joe Ely, Susan Tedeschi, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allen Coe and other artists who blur country, blues, rock and folk musical genre lines. Western-swing veterans Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Price and Leon Russell will also appear at the all-day event, which begins at 10 a.m.

More than 250,000 fans are expected when Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, Montgomery Gentry and Ty Herndon congregate at the 10th annual Chicago Country Music Festival, at Grant Park downtown, held in conjunction with the Taste of Chicago downtown festival.

"Chicago has quite a history of country music with the influence of the original 'WLS Barn Dance' [which ran from 1924–1960] and the hotbed of country talent found here," festival coordinator Erin Molloy said.

The two-day free concert also features a tribute to western-swing. The music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys will be honored, with performances by the Texas Players II, which includes original members of the Playboys, plus Leon Rausch, who replaced Tommy Duncan as the group's lead singer for a while. Also on hand will be traditional Texas singer Wayne "The Train" Hancock, Chicago alt-country label Bloodshot Records' Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonaut, plus Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, Hot Club of Cowtown and others.