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Luck Ranch, Willie Nelson’s Place, to Host 10-Day Lucktoberfest, With Everything from an Orville Peck Costume Ball to ‘Black Opry’ Night (EXCLUSIVE)

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Music fans or just aficionados of unusual cultural events who can get themselves to Willie Nelson’s ranch in late October and early November are destined to get lucky. For a stretching lasting from Oct. 28 through Nov. 6, his Luck Ranch outside of Austin will play host to a first-time festival, Lucktoberfest. The gathering will have a different theme for each of its 10 nights and days — ranging from a costume ball with Orville Peck to a Day of the Dead celebration with Los Lobos to a Fantastic Negrito-led “Black Opry Revue” showcase.

The musical offerings will not all be country, by any means, but genre buffs will take a special interest in the penultimate night, dubbed “Sweethearts and a Rodeo,” which will combine an all-female lineup with Tanya Tucker, Sierra Ferrell and Nikki Lane and combine it with the first actual rodeo to ever be held at Luck Ranch.

Non-musical highlights will range from a family-oriented trick-or-treating night on Halloween to a “queer Southern glamour” fashion show.

It will all go down at Luck Ranch, which is a 30-40 minute drive from Austin (with shuttle buses available from the city), with a budget-friendly cost of $100 for a full 10-day pass or $35 for any individual night. Lucktoberfest organizers see it as a more accessible and diverse complement to the Luck Family Reunion music festivals that they produce at the ranch adjacent to SXSW every spring, which are costlier and more exclusive.

Lucktoberfest lineup
Courtesy Luck Presents

“It’s a separate thing,” Luck Presents founder Matt Bizer tells Variety, for anyone further curious about how this differs from their signature springtime event. “The Luck Reunions really are our our homecoming for the Luck family and the artists and this community we’ve built over the years. But we really just felt like we wanted to host an event that was more open to the (Texas) community. You know, the Reunion sells out before we even announce the lineup every year. And we wanted to open Luck up to a larger group of people who maybe miss out on that opportunity. It’s a little more informal; you don’t have to feel like, ‘Oh man, I gotta get tickets today or I’m not gonna get to go’ or ‘it’s VIP-only and it doesn’t include me.’ It’s still a small, intimate experience, but it’s a lot going on, from the full carnival happening at the midway to your classic Octoberfest beer hall happening all week, to the outdoor main stage.”

Bizer spotlights the diversity of programming over the week and a half, pointing out “everything from our Western masquerade ball -with Orville Peck to a Bavarian night that’s gonna have a really fun, traditional Octoberfest feel. We’ve had some great groups and artists come together for Dia de los Muertos, where we’re gonna have everything from a procession and experience to the music [by Los Lobos and traditional Mexican artists] being incredible. We’re doing our first-ever fashion show out at Luck that’s being curated to celebrate a big group of queer artists from the Texas area that are creating their own experiences. We’re be having a true rodeo our first true rodeo at the ranch the second Saturday, and the last Sunday, we’re having a golf tournament,” he says.

“We felt we needed to open the doors to different community curators, different organizations, different groups to sort of show us what Texas is, versus us saying what we know what it is. And I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do over the last six, nine months, is to talk to different groups and organizations to have them take over and curate days and create special pop-ups and experiences. We want it to be a place where everyone can kind of come and feel at home. Luck is this sort of neutral ground, and I think under our landlord, Willie Nelson, and the way he sees the world, we just wanted to embody that and really throw an event that just felt like it could be for anyone and everyone if they want to come out, whether it’s bringing the family or coming solo to one of the shows in the evening.”

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Luck Ranch
Courtesy Luck Presents

The Luck Ranch area takes up about a third of Nelson’s property in Texas. “We like to call it ‘just outside of Austin, which is a little nod to Lucas (Nelson, Willie’s son) and his song about it.” Bizer explains the origins of the town… or “town”… of Luck.

“It’s kind of a mystical Western town, in that it was built for Willie’s 1985 movie ‘The Redheaded Stranger.’ And the town was saved by Willie, in that in the original script, it was written to be burned down. and Willie said, ‘I’ve always dreamed of having a Western town since I was a little kid,’ and so he kept it. It became this sort of playground for adults, for him to have his own space and have a wild Western town in his backyard. But it sat for quite a few years, until about 10 years ago we started opening it back up to the public for the Luck Reunion. Since then, we’ve been maintaining it and trying to preserve the Western facades and keep the town alive and give it a face for the new generation where people can experience it and visit.

“And it really is the Nelsons’ home. One of the beautiful things about it is they only open it up a few times a year, and I think it has that sort of mystical feeling of a special place. You can tell when you come there that it just makes you want to be your better self, in the sense that it truly is like a lucky place. When you pull into town, you pass all of Willie’s rescue horses on the dirt road driving in, and arrive little Western town at the end of the road where there’s a big Hollywood-style sign that says LUCK up on the hillside. And from there on out, you’re in Luck,” he chuckles. “It kind of comes to life and has its own little experience for each person that comes.”

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Luck Ranch

The inclusivity could be seen as a political statement, given that not the entire country is enamored of Texas state policy in the current climate, whereas Austin tends to operate as nearly its own cultural state. But if anything, Bizer says part of the idea of Lucktoberfest is to help erase those lines.

“I think it just goes back to the idea of community in the first place,” the Luck Presents founder says. “Everywhere we look right now, everyone’s focused on the differences, and I think for us, it’s like, let’s unite around the things that we all care about and the things that we do believe in. Let’s try to find a way to reconnect and bond, and truly be a community. It’s kind of crucial in times like this to have a space where people can kind of get together and kind of find ways to reconnect, find ways to realize we’re all people. I think when you get a lot of people in the same room, you start to see those walls tear down a little bit. We’re hoping for is just to continue to do what we’ve always done, which is hold space for people to come together. And I think Willie’s always been famous for that, and we want to represent that in our mantra of how we put on these experiences, creating space for people to be themselves. And so, yeah, I think in a way it’s an answer to the times we live in today, which is to, instead of letting everyone else paint a portrait of Texas, let us paint our own portrait of ourselves through an experience.”

More information on Lucktoberfest can be found here. Following is Luck Presents’ thumbnail descriptions of the daily themes and events:

Friday, October 28th: A Texas-Sized Kickoff Celebration Featuring: Paul Cauthen’s Big Velvet Revue

“The grand introduction to the first-ever Lucktoberfest will kick off our 10-day celebration of Texas culture in a big way with Paul Cauthen’s Big Velvet Revue, featuring special guests as big as The Lonestar State. Did we mention that it’s big?”

Saturday, October 29th: Outlaw Masquerade Ball Featuring: Orville Peck

“Headlined by Orville Peck, this night is a far-west cowboy-themed masquerade ball featuring an eclectic cast of characters from burlesque dancers, saloon acts, and more special experiences; an homage to our unapologetic ancestors who paved the way for modern-day outliers and outsiders continuing the outlaw tradition.”

Sunday, October 30th: Prost, Y’all! “Luck-Oktoberfest” Featuring: Alex Meixner and Friends

“A night of German-influenced entertainment celebrating cherished Bavarian traditions from everything to polka and Maskrugstemmen (beer-stein holding) featuring headliner and world-renowned musician Alex Meixner and special guests.”

Monday, October 31st: LUCK-O-LANTERN Halloween Family Night Featuring: A Special Matthew Logan Vasquez and Friends Spooktacular

“Just outside of neighborhood tradition, a unique and exciting one-stop shop for Halloween trick-or-treating, boos and brews, and something for every member of the family. Headlined by Matthew Logan Vasquez featuring a spooktacular all-star band. Kids under 18 get in free with a parent or guardian.”

Tuesday, November 1st: Día De Los Muertos Experience Featuring: Los Lobos and More

“Headlined by four-time Grammy award winners Los Lobos, this Day of the Dead celebration features curated food, music, a community ofrenda, a formal procession, and so much more.”

Wednesday, November 2nd: The Black Opry Revue Featuring: Fantastic Negrito

“Three-time Grammy award winner Fantastic Negrito headlines this night celebrating the soul at the crux of every genre of music, highlighting the work of Black artists who have always been integral to country; folk; blues; and Americana music. The evening will feature a viewing party for Fantastic Negritos’s film, ‘White Jesus Black Problems,’ and more.”

Thursday, November 3rd: Luck Night Market Featuring: Sasami

“Headlined by Sasami, this night celebrates Texas’ Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community with a festive Night Market including street food from some of the best AAPI chefs from around the state, plus a wide array of vendors and artisans.”

Friday, November 4th: Desert Roses Queer Southern Glamour: A Fashion and Variety Show

“An LGBTQIA+ fete taking the celebration from the runway to the stage, featuring central Texas designers FLAMER; DASHE; Alive By Benjamin; This is Sloane; NICÓ; and curators. In Luck, all ways are welcome.” 

Saturday, November 5th: Sweethearts and a Rodeo With Tanya Tucker, Sierra Ferrell, and Nikki Lane

“Led by two-time Grammy award winner Tanya Tucker, this night will feature an all-star female music lineup straight out of Honky Tonk, USA, celebrating the women of country music. Dust off your hat and shine up your boots for a yee-to-the-haw-filled night featuring a rowdy rodeo, two-steppin’ dancehall experience, and more.” 

Sunday, November 6th: Bloody Mary Morning: A Luck-style Send-off and Brunch Festival with Bob Schneider and Shiny Ribs

“The grand finale to the first-ever Lucktoberfest will bring Bob Schneider and Shiny Ribs to the stage for an all-day fanfare and feast featuring your favorite brunch plates from national and local chefs.”



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YoungBoy Never Broke Again Says He Regrets Violent Lyrics, Plans to Become Mormon

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YoungBoy Never Broke Again — the prolific rapper who released eight albums in the past year alone — has opened up about regretting some of his early music-making decisions.

As part of a Billboard cover story published on Wednesday, the 23-year-old gave a vulnerable look into his life and artistic evolution throughout his rapid rise to fame. He also discussed how his move to Utah has positively impacted his daily life and credited his change of mindset to his budding connection to the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He recalls one specific instance where he was quick to decline a visit from a group of Mormon missionaries who showed up outside his home, but after recognizing that he “wanted help very badly” and “needed a friend,” the artist opened his doors to them.

“It was just cool to see someone with a different mindset that had nothing to do with business or money — just these wonderful souls,” he said. He also told the publication that he hopes to further commit to his new-found spirituality with a baptism ceremony, but he’s waiting until he is no longer on house arrest (YoungBoy has been on house arrest since October for a weapons charge in Louisiana).

Reflecting on his early releases, the Louisana-born rapper said he felt a sense of responsibility for “the shit I put in these people’s ears,” adding that he feels “very wrong about a lot of things…How many kids or people have got in a car or put this shit in their ears and actually went and hurt someone?”

Acknowledging that the damage has been done, YoungBoy expressed his eagerness “to clean whatever I can clean” moving forward, “but it’s gon’ take time.”

YoungBoy is one of the most commercially consistent rappers to have come out of the past few years. Five out of eight of his 2022 full-length releases reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 last year. His latest, “I Rest My Case,” debuted at No. 9 after its arrival in early January, and marked his first studio effort under Motown. “The Last Slimeto,” which peaked at No. 2 on the albums chart, was the rapper’s final obligation to Atlantic Records — his label of five years.



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No Stories, No Surrender: Bruce Springsteen Makes Up for Lost Time With Searing, ‘Letter to You’-Heavy Tampa Tour Kickoff

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Bruce Springsteen might be tired of talking. Between two runs of his narrative-heavy Springsteen on Broadway residency and eight episodes of his Renegades: Born in the USA podcast co-hosted with former president Barack Obama, Springsteen had been doing a lot of gabbing in the six years since he last hit the road with longtime backing outfit The E Street Band. But if Wednesday night’s (Feb. 1) opener to the group’s 2023 Tour is any indication, story time is over: The Boss is back, and he just wants to play.

In fact, for the great majority of the show at Tampa’s Amalie Arena, the only thing Springsteen had to say — outside of the occasional “TAMPA!” holler or stage direction for his 19-piece band — was “one, two, three, four!” as he introduced their next ripper. No mention was made of the relatively long layoff since their last global trek, nor of any of the real-world circumstances that might’ve accounted for a couple of those dormant years, nor even of the fact that this was their first show back; if you’d wandered in from across the street, you’d likely assume they had already been on the road for months already.

But in many ways, that’s just Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They may be rock history’s most successful bar band, but they still have that working man’s approach to the gig — and priority one of Wednesday’s show was demonstrating that they were back in business, and picking right up where they left off. The group was cooking from the opener, Born in the U.S.A. fist-pumping fan-favorite “No Surrender,” and the energy stayed at that level close to throughout the 28-song set. No time for putting on airs; there was six years’ worth of rocking to catch up on.

The setlist also reflected this ethos, with the spirit of the selections being far more side two of The River than side four. (Only one song actually from The River, the boisterous rave-up “Out in the Street,” made the cut; presumably Springsteen figured we got our fill of that double LP the last time out.) Renditions of longtime live staples like “Prove It All Night,” “She’s the One” and “Johnny 99” were positively scorching — and though the show’s setlist was relatively light on major curveballs, longtime fans in attendance were no doubt please to hear the extended shine given to jammier early cuts “The E Street Shuffle” and “Kitty’s Back,” Springsteen even conducting the brass section in individual solos on the latter.

And the man himself remains a physical marvel. His voice is obviously still mighty, but you might’ve wondered if age and time off would result in Springsteen, now 73, appearing visibly diminished. But he still shows a wiry, near-pugilistic scrappiness onstage — perhaps a little stiffer in movement, but no less authoritative and striking for it. Among his classic rock peers, perhaps only Stevie Nicks can compare in terms of the amount electricity they can summon to this day simply by lifting their arms. (Bruce’s years might show most in his sense of humor, including on-stage banter with sideman Stevie Van Zandt during the ending of “Glory Days” about it being “time for us to go home… it’s way past my normal bedtime.”)

The show also aimed to demonstrate that Springsteen still has it as a songwriter, with a whopping six tracks pulled from his 2020 LP Letter to You. (Last year’s Only the Strong Survive cover set got a quick two-song mini-set, while 2019’s dustier group of originals Western Stars was not represented at all.) The new songs meshed surprisingly well with the old — particularly the anthemic “Ghosts,” which already sounds like it should’ve been a live fixture for decades — with the repetitive “House of a Thousand Guitars” the lone selection where you could feel the energy lag a bit. The evening’s most emotionally charged moment might’ve come with Springsteen’s spellbinding solo acoustic performance of Letter ballad “Last Man Standing,” preceded by his lone preamble of the evening — which explained the song as being inspired by the death of an early bandmate, leaving him the lone living member of his first-ever band. “At 15, it’s all tomorrows… at 73, it’s a whole lot of yesterdays,” he summarized, to roaring audience support. “So you gotta make the most of right now.”

It certainly felt like the band made the most of their time in Tampa — particularly once they started blazing through a show-ending run of classics like “Born to Run,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” and “Dancing in the Dark,” with Springsteen even mimicking his famous dance moves from the latter’s music video. The “Dark” performance also included a rare miscue for the band, as someone came early with the chord changes in the first verse — a foible that came off as more charming than anything, especially with the rest of the group visibly shrugging to themselves and one another, eh whaddya gonna do, it’s opening night, lotta tour still ahead.

The final number was a second Letter to You acoustic rendition, this time of “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” which Springsteen also used to close Springsteen on Broadway in 2021. Dedicating the song to Emily Rose Marcus — the recently deceased daughter of rock critic Greil Marcus — Springsteen’s hushed performance was a thoroughly heartbreaking closer. But as he walked offstage at 10:43 ET, seemingly with time still left for an epic encore (“Thunder Road” perhaps?) the crowd continued buzzing expectantly for a couple minutes — until the house lights came on, confirming that The Boss was indeed checking out. He had said all he needed to say for the night.

Setlist:

No Surrender
Ghosts
Prove It All Night
Letter to You
Promised Land
Out in the Street
Candy’s Room
Kitty’s Back
Brilliant Disguise
Nightshift
Don’t Play That Song
The E Street Shuffle
Johnny 99
Last Man Standing
House of a Thousand Guitars
Backstreets
Because the Night
She’s the One
Wrecking Ball
The Rising
Badlands

Encore:
Burning Train
Born To Run
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
I’ll See You in My Dreams



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Rosalía Parts Ways With Longtime Manager Rebeca León

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Rosalía has “amicably” parted ways with her longtime manager Rebeca León, Variety has confirmed. The news was first reported by Billboard.

León — who also managed J. Balvin as well as Colombian superstar Juanes, with whom she founded Lionfish Entertainment — began managing Rosalía when she was still an unsigned flamenco artist and was in the process of recording (and self-funding) her second studio album “El Mal Querer” in 2018.

Their partnership would help propel Rosalía’s career to a global stage, turning her into one of the world’s biggest Latin artists. She was the first Spanish-language singer to ever be nominated for best new artist at the Grammys in 2020. At this year’s show, her genre-bending “Motomami” album is nominated in the best Latin rock or alternative album category, which she previously won for “El Mal Querer.”

According to reports, the split was an amicable and unanimous decision. No new manager has been revealed yet, and reps for Rosalía did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment. Rosalía is fresh off of a successful 2022 tour run in support of “Motomami,” and already has major festival slots in place for this year. She will be headlining Lollapalooza in Argentina and Chile, along with a main stage appearance at Coachella in April.

León is said to be focused on growing Lionfish Studios, the production company she started with Juanes — who introduced her to Rosalía during a Madrid concert in 2017. The company is currently working in partnership with Sony Music and is working on a series of developing projects, including one with Steven Levinson for HBO. She was also recently credited as a co-producer for the “Father of the Bride” remake starring Andy García. León will also continue working with artists including Latin R&B singer st. pedro, and a partnership with BRESH via her music company, Lionfish Entertainment.



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