Editor’s Be aware: On Friday, occasion organizers mentioned the 10th anniversary present will go on however that headliner Willie Nelson wouldn’t be showing. A visitor artist was being sought to take his place; it is hoped Willie may are available 2021.
Bishop Powell isn’t a lot of an outlaw and, by his personal admission, not fairly a legend.
However Powell, the daddy of Outlaws & Legends Music Competition founder Mark Powell, has had one of the best view of the occasion for the previous 9 years.
Not essentially one of the best seat in the home as a result of he is at all times standing. Bishop performs the fiddle, amongst different devices. You might fiddle round, however you do not sit and fiddle.
However that is not all. With Mark Powell and his spouse, Meredith, now residing in Colorado, it is Bishop who’s the self-described caretaker of the 90-acre Again Porch of Texas, web site of the pageant since 2013. He mows, trims branches (that is a job unto itself, he says) and feeds the critters.
Lately, these embrace longhorns, two feminine buffaloes, zebus, a horse with a reputation (Set off) and two donkeys, Pancho and Lefty.
Bishop is also tasked with telling of us who cease to inquire about RV hookups — an indication is seen from the street — that, properly, no, that is only for the present.
Bishop believes it is likely to be a good suggestion to have a year-round RV web site. The Again Porch is situated virtually on the juncture of U.S. Freeway 83/84 and Interstate 20 in northwest Abilene.
“However that is ol’ dad speaking,” he mentioned.
Abilene was the suitable place in any case
The present, in fact, is likely one of the hottest nation music festivals in Texas. Most likely in this a part of the nation.
Final 12 months, the two-day occasion topped 12,000 followers (12,322 to be actual) for the primary time after going over 10,000 (10,138) in 2018. It has grown in attendance and bodily enhancements annually. There’s now a big steel teepee, house to an after-show jam session.
“I by no means dreamed Abilene can be so supportive of a brand new venue,” Bishop Powell mentioned. He’d seen sufficient reside music occasions flop right here.
“I assumed it was a good suggestion,” he mentioned of staging a two-day music occasion on a single stage. “However Abilene wasn’t the suitable place.”
However the location on main highways proved handy for acts touring the nation.
The occasion brings in nation music legends and even inside the nation music world, an eclectic mixture of expertise. That is the outlaw facet of the present — artists who will be hard-core nation, lean towards a rock sound or fall someplace in between.
Some headliners have been each legend and outlaw. One is due right here Friday.
Following Kris Kristofferson final 12 months, Mark Powell realized a dream by touchdown Willie Nelson. Willie’s identify has been batted round for a number of years, however the 10th anniversary present simply appeared like the suitable time.
“I met him in 2000 on the Grammys,” Mark Powell mentioned. “To me, who else would you need on the Outlaws & Legends 10th anniversary? I am glad it labored out.”
Nelson has carried out in Abilene many occasions, from reveals earlier than 1000’s on the Taylor County Coliseum to a crowd of lower than 1,000 crammed right into a former dance membership.
However the accolades proceed to roll in for the 86-year-old Texan (his birthday is April 29 … and April 30), who within the 1970s mashed the music of hippies and rednecks to create outlaw nation.
Willie will be a part of an Outlaws & Legends corridor of fame that features Kristofferson, the late Merle Haggard, the inimitable late Leon Russell, Charlie Daniels and plenty of extra.
And as at all times, Mark Powell and Lariat play.
Bishop Powell is proud to see what his son has created.
“It is seldom individuals get to make a residing doing what they like to do” he mentioned. “Merle Haggard carried out on the stage we painted … it is an incredible factor.
“I can not consider how laborious he works. I by no means had that a lot power.”
Bishop Powell paved the way in which
If not for Bishop Powell, the Outlaws & Legends Music Competition wouldn’t be.
In fact, Mary Powell, Bishop’s spouse, performed her half.
That is the organic reality.
However dad was a musician, and that drew sons Mark and John into the enterprise.
Bishop is a West Texas boy from Ballinger, who went to Angelo State College.
There, he discovered work within the second era of the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers, a San Angelo group led by J. Frank Wilson, recorded the track “Final Kiss” and in 1964 spent eight weeks within the Prime 10. It peaked on the Billboard charts at No. 2.
Among the best story songs ever, Bishop mentioned.
“Tales of misplaced love, misplaced life … misplaced vehicles,” he mentioned, laughing.
Within the 1970s, the Cavaliers had been nonetheless round and singing “Final Kiss,” however their gigs had been trending towards nation.
“I turned a fiddle participant for a rock band,” Bishop mentioned.
Nowhere was that pattern shifting quicker than in Austin. The music world quickly would get a dose of Willie, Waylon, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Gary P. Nunn, Jerry Walker … all them boys.
Hubbard, Nunn and Walker have performed Outlaws & Legends, as has Shooter Jennings, Waylon’s son, who was on stage final spring. Mark Powell famous final 12 months that he virtually corralled all of the fabled Highwaymen, lacking solely Johnny Money.
One other alternative for Bishop Powell was touchdown a gig with Brent Scott. Scott was a singer, guitarist and an impersonator. His shtick was impersonating a well-known particular person, resembling John Wayne, singing a preferred track, resembling “Child Face.”
Nixon sang. So did Paul Lynde (by no means belief him making an attempt to dam in “Hollywood Squares”).
“Crowds liked it,” Bishop mentioned. They’d additionally do bluegrass, patriotic songs and even a number of mildly related to church, resembling “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Bishop met and in 1976 married Mary McCaleb, the sister of the person who change into mayor of Abilene, Gary McCaleb. They met as academics at Madison Center Faculty.
They’d transfer briefly to Ballinger after which to Anson earlier than returning to Abilene within the late 1980s.
A member of the Church of Christ, Mary Powell nixed instrumental music on Sundays. His enjoying slacked off, although he by no means stopped. He performed some gigs, and there was music in the home when the boys got here alongside, They picked up their father’s skills.
Again in Abilene in 1991, the stage model of “Grease” was being carried out at Albany Excessive Faculty they usually wanted musicians. Bishop Powell signed on to play the electrical bass. He may play something with strings.
That gig began a protracted relationship with Randall Palmore, a metal participant. The 2 musicians turned sidemen for rent, providing a steel-fiddle mixture for bands needing a rustic sound or touring artists needing to rent gamers for a present. They performed a number of ranch dances within the space, and even with the late Abilenian Lane Frizzell.
Mark and Bishop in 1993 landed musical gigs in “Cotton Patch Gospel,” a musical on the Paramount Theatre. Mark was changing into adept on guitar and, like his dad, different string devices.
Quickly sufficient, the boys had been in highschool, enjoying baseball and music on their very own.
It was Palmore who sized up the state of affairs, noting there was a singer who may play the guitar (Mark), a bassist (John), a metal participant (Palmore) and a fiddler (Bishop).
“We obtained a band,” Palmore introduced. Little did he know. Ronnie McHan can be the drummer.
When it got here time for a reputation, Bishop Powell mentioned they selected Lariat. That was the identify of a band led by Dan Harrell (of TV’s Cowboy Dan fame). The band as soon as performed in Anson, when the Powells had been there. They wanted a fiddle participant, and employed Bishop. He was wit the group when Lariat superior to the ultimate of a nationwide expertise contest, received that 12 months by Sweethearts of the Rodeo.
When that Lariat referred to as it quits, Bishop Powell took the identify to honor his pal.
Who’s this younger gun?
What was cool about Mark Powell and Lariat is that dancers liked listening to this younger child sing the traditional nation dance tunes.
“Outdated individuals like that,” Bishop Powell mentioned, including that nowadays, that is him.
Bishop mentioned their first present as Lariat with all three Powell boys was in 1997 in San Angelo.
“They’d dance to the whole lot we performed for 4 hours,” he mentioned.
And never solely did Lariat play within the space, the band was booked on cruises that provided quite a lot of music for company.
“We did very properly at that,” Bishop mentioned.
After which Mark obtained married and he and his bride moved to Collierville, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis. He was working with music label Common as a author and in different capacities.
Meredith Powell was coming into into the pharmaceutical subject, and her job is what led the couple to relocate three years in the past to Parker, Colorado, which is 20 miles south of Denver.
In the meantime, again in Texas, Lariat obtained by with out Mark Powell out entrance.
“Then he noticed the sunshine of purpose and got here again to Texas,” dad mentioned, laughing.
One among Mark Powell’s non-music jobs was banking. That monetary background, together with industrial lending, has come in useful when he cooked up the thought to stage a music pageant.
“Completely,” he mentioned.
Finally, the couple moved to Abilene, the place their second and third youngsters had been born. His of us had been right here and hers in Dallas.
He rejoined Lariat, and the band elevated in recognition.
“We made a number of street miles,” Bishop Powell mentioned.
That journey, Mark Powell, mentioned was a “God-thing, clearly. This pageant … I did not plan on it.”
Alongside got here 2010, and planning started for the primary Outlaws & Legends.
And at first …
The inaugural music pageant was at a small leisure venue at barbecuer Joe Allen’s unfold southeast of Abilene. There had been live shows at Allen’s Lytle Bend Ranch, together with one by rising nation music singer Tim McGraw.
However that was when it was hotter.
Staged earlier in winter-turns-to-spring time of 12 months, the climate didn’t precisely cooperate this time round. It was chilly and windy the primary week of March.
“It blew over the Jumbotron,” Bishop Powell recalled.
Nonetheless, about 6,100 attended a present headlined by David Allan Coe and together with Powell’s band, Bleu Edmondson, Stoney LaRue, Matt Martindale, Gary P. Nunn, Tommy Alverson and Larry Joe Taylor.
Jerrod Medulla, too. In addition to Lariat he is the one different 10-year pageant performer.
Did Mark Powell get up at some point to determine to get into the live performance occasion enterprise?
No. The story goes that a musical occasion was being deliberate and Mark Powell was requested to assist. He referred to as in favors, he mentioned, to get singer-songwriters to return.
The occasion by no means occurred.
Mark Powell needed to name his music buddies again to cancel.
“I felt actually dangerous. And fame is an enormous factor for me,” he mentioned. In his considering, his was about to take a success.
As a substitute, the response he obtained again was, let’s do it anyway. We’ll make it work and have enjoyable, he was instructed.
Powell urged to his music friends to return early they usually’d “write just a little.” Make it value their whereas.
Backporch Productions was shaped and with the assistance of Kevin Darby, who was employed within the wind power enterprise, and Ty Tyson, Lariat’s band supervisor who got here up with the outlaws and legends occasion identify, a pageant with a theme was born.
“Everybody needed it to occur,” Mark Powell mentioned.
There was area for possibly 50 RVs, and about 38 had been stuffed. This 12 months’s present already has 435 booked.
“It was so natural,” Mark Powell mentioned. “It was not deliberate in any respect. We did one of the best we may.”
Taylor, who has had a long-running music occasion himself, marveled at how the primary Outlaws & Legends turned out.
“He instructed me, ‘I did not have this many individuals on the 13th 12 months of my pageant,'” Mark Powell mentioned.
The second present was at Abilene Speedway, with the legendary Marshall Tucker Band the headliner. Mark Powell mentioned the positioning was not conducive to a music occasion, but it surely went off properly sufficient to think about a 3rd present.
The Powells by no means had bought land but it surely was time “for a set location,” he mentioned. “We had one thing” with the pageant, he believed.
Certainly. Presents already had been coming in to maneuver the present. To Clyde. To Waco. To Colorado.
“It wasn’t even an annual but,” Mark Powell mentioned, laughing. Cities had been providing cash. Good cash. Avon, Colorado, needed a present, and that really occurred. The same occasion there that featured Robert Earl Eager did OK. However OK wasn’t adequate.
As a substitute, Outlaws stayed put in West Texas.
Some “junk property” was acquired simply exterior the Abilene loop and it turned the Again Porch of Texas.
There have been constructions on the property, together with an space the place a stage may go. The precise stage used on the first present (however not on the second) was introduced in and positioned dealing with west.
“I assumed that may be cool,” Mark Powell mentioned of conserving the stage, which has been upgraded in recent times.
He purchased used synthetic turf from LSU to put in entrance of the stage.
Heavy tools was rented they usually realized to function it.
That was simply a part of the work that wanted to be performed over a six-month interval.
“That third 12 months was survival. It was unbelievably laborious,” Mark Powell mentioned. Additionally they needed to deal with moist climate, which cleared by showtime.
There was portray to do, and Bishop Powell mentioned he by no means noticed two individuals, Mark and Meredith, “work as laborious” getting the place prepared for a present.
“There was not a waking second we weren’t out right here,” Mark Powell mentioned.
However that is what it took, he mentioned.
“Meredith and I, we’re actual drivers,” he mentioned. “It is all about constructing a legacy. That is what we inform the youngsters.”
What cash isn’t donated to Ben Richey Boys Ranch —$1.6 million to this point — “has been reinvested into the place,” Mark Powell mentioned, pausing. With a broad smile, he added his spouse has urged the yearly “house enchancment” tasks, such seat containers become VIP nests, cease.
He counted on individuals who had been all in with the occasion. If not, the hassle went on anyway.
The youngsters, too, had been all in. They performed on the web site whereas their dad and mom labored.
The visitor artist in 2013 was Merle Haggard, and upon reflection, which may be Bishop Powell’s favourite of the 9 reveals to this point. His son and daughter-in-law created an occasion venue at which a rustic music legend carried out.
Who ever would’ve guessed what extra was to return.
RVs motor, and matter
Laborious work, sure. Nice leisure lineup, sure.
However Bishop Powell mentioned the important thing to success was tapping into the RV crowd.
Even on the first present, they’d dozens of RVs.
“It was full. We simply put them in a subject,” he mentioned.
The sunshine bulb went on.
“Individuals with RVs had been simply ready for issues like this to occur,” he mentioned. “It provides them an excuse to check out their RVs and evaluate. There’s extra socializing that goes on there than on the present.”
The 2-day occasion is value their time to take pleasure in themselves, Bishop mentioned. He is undecided some truly go to the live performance, preferring to relax, see who has what and pay attention from afar.
The situation of the Again Porch close to two main highways is ideal. The one-way entry is sweet, as is the shortage of site visitors on the frontage street.
This 12 months, most if not all RV slots had been taken by the point the leisure was introduced. Tailgate areas are gone, too, main Mark Powell to think about a crowd nearer to 14,000 this 12 months.
There have been challenges, together with the shortage of metropolis of Abilene providers resembling utilities and trash pickup. When it rained, and it has, soaked areas needed to be sopped up with hay or full of dust.
“Miracles like that occurred,” Bishop Powell mentioned of changes proper as much as showtime.
There have been dry years, too, when d was kicked up.
However 12 months by 12 months, Bishop Powell mentioned, the problems have been conquered, a technique or one other.
Lining up the musical lineups
The record of entertainers is lengthy and true to the occasion identify.
Bishop Powell mentioned his son has a knack for pulling collectively quite a lot of entertainers.
If Mark Powell had been to go to this sort of present, who would he need to listen to? And would the artist contemplate his or her look a “house run?”
He mentioned he’s not impressed by Spotify or Instagram numbers. He likes what he likes.
Western swing grasp Bush has performed the fest.
Progressive nation star Joe Ely, too. Beloved Texas storyteller Eager. The Burrito Brothers. Ray Wylie Hubbard..
“These are the fellows I went for,” Mark Powell mentioned. For the 10th present, he requested himself, “Who’d be cool this 12 months?”
Artists whose work he respects, even “individuals I do not know as properly.” That is who. He is longing for Charley Crockett and Mike & the Moonpies look this 12 months, although, he mentioned, he does not get to pay attention in as a lot as he’d like.
Finally, the present’s fame and his connections rose to the extent of getting extra nationally identified entertainers resembling Dwight Yoakam and Charlie Daniels.
And now, Willie.
There have not been as many feminine artists, however some. This 12 months’s lineup options the return of Deana Carter. Lee Ann Womack headlined one 12 months.
Final 12 months, the rising band Midland was on stage.
Bishop Powell mentioned his son tried to duplicate this sort of present in Colorado however, he lamented, they only do not get it like we do in Texas.
“They are not as massive on Purple Dust,” he mentioned of the music style that blends many types, together with Mexican influences and honky-tonk.
Taking part in within the band
Bishop Powell mentioned his son enjoys bringing within the legends and his rising friendships with different artists, a few of whom have been virtually regulars, resembling Hubbardm Nunn and Dean Dillon.
His dad, alternatively, enjoys assembly the musicians within the bands. He was thrilled two years again to speak to Augie Meyers, of Sir Douglas Quintet fame.
And pop’s OK with Mark Powell’s extra rockin’ nation sound, although he prefers old-school nation. Fiddle songs, notably.
“I requested Mark, ‘Why do not you play some songs individuals know, like “One Idiot on a Stool,”‘ Bishop Powell mentioned. “He mentioned, ‘Dad, you aren’t getting anyplace doing different individuals’s songs.'”
Like Mary tailored to her husband’s love of performing and now to son John and grandson Luke enjoying within the Highland Church of Christ worship band, Bishop has rolled along with his son, who has confirmed his approach will be profitable.
He mentioned “Church Marquee,” based mostly on an indication seen passing via Winters, is his favourite Mark Powell track.
“You see one thing for a second but it surely makes an enduring impression,” he mentioned.
Dad thought of not enjoying this 12 months, however Mark insisted. Bishop Powell admitted that at 67, his fingerplay is slowing.
“Once you play the fiddle,” he mentioned, “it’s a must to be quick.”
Mark introduced to the band it will cowl Daniels’ “Satan Went Right down to Georiga,” a track Bishop by no means has performed.
You’ve got time to apply, son instructed dad.
He remembers Haggard utilizing a teleprompter when he was on the Again Porch.
“For songs he’d sung for 1,000 years,” Bishop Powell mentioned. “I assumed, ‘Nicely, that is what I’ve to look ahead to.'”
Mark Powell mentioned he by no means has taken with no consideration that he and his dad share the stage.
“That’s approach cool,” he mentioned. His dad “feels misplaced on the large stage, however I need him there.
“Individuals imply lots to me, and this helps me bear in mind the place I got here from. This is sort of a massive household. We’re doing issues the suitable approach.
“We’re constructing one thing particular right here. Haggard mentioned that. That is coming from a individuals I actually respect.”
Lariat, which has added guitar whiz Dave Hobbs and drummer Chris Sanchez to the lineup that features bass participant Galen Hester, would be the second-to-last act once more, however this 12 months on the primary evening, acting at 7:30 p.m.
Simply forward of Willie.
The right ending
That introduced up two tales from Bishop Powell, who mentioned bringing Texas’ personal legend “is the best factor since sliced bread. I am thrilled.”
One is that a cousin married Joe Gracey, who helped launch Armadillo World Headquarters, a former Nationwide Guard armory that was refurbished as a venue in 1970. It introduced artists to Texas who in any other case by no means would’ve come.
Gracey got here throughout a nation singer-songwriter residing in Nashville however a local Texan, who appeared to have extra to supply. That was Willie Nelson, whose look on the Armadillo in 1972 is claimed to be the birthdate of outlaw/progressive nation.
“They gave him a platform, and he made himself slot in,” Bishop Powell mentioned of blending hippie and nation music.
Virtually 50 years later, that style nonetheless is rockin’ and its godfather is coming to Abilene.
Bishop Powell tells one other story, a few red-headed stranger on a bicycle stopping to assist youngsters at Zilker Park in Austin get a kite into the sky. As he pedaled away, a dad got here as much as the boys and requested, “Are you aware who THAT was!”
No, they shrugged. Simply helped us fly our kite.
Outlaw and legend, Willie is the proper headliner for the 10th anniversary of the Outlaws & Legends Music Competition.
Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-Information. If you happen to respect domestically pushed information, you possibly can assist native journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
Essentially the most needed record
Listed here are a number of the major points of interest at every Outlaws & Legends Music Fest. Two acts have carried out in any respect 9 occasions — founder Mark Powell and his band Lariat, and Jerrod Medulla.
2019 – Kris Kristofferson and the band Midland
2018 – Dwight Yoakam and the band Reckless Kelly.
2017 – Lee Ann Womack, Mark Chesnutt and Cooder Graw
2016 – Jerry Jeff Walker, Pat Inexperienced and Deanna Carter
2015 – Charlie Daniels and Jamey Johnson
2014 – Leon Russell, Robert Earl Eager and Billy Joe Shaver
2013 – Lee Roy Parnell, Cody Johnson and Gary P. Nunn
2012 – Marshall Tucker Band, Lee Roy Parnell and the band Whiskey Myers
2011 – David Allan Coe
This 12 months’s lineup
2 p.m. – The Hamiltons
three:15 p.m. – Cooder Graw
four:30 p.m. – Charley Crockett
6 p.m. – Deana Carter
7:30 p.m. – Mark Powell
9:30 p.m. – TBD
11:45 a.m. – Jerrod Medulla
12:45 p.m. – Curtis Grimes
2 p.m. – Jamie Richards
three:15 p.m. – Mike & the Moonpies
four:30 p.m. – The Nice Divide
6 p.m. – Lee Roy Parnell (changing Radney Foster)
7:30 p.m. – Kevin Fowler
9:30 p.m. – Randy Houser
Particulars: Normal admission gate opens at 1 p.m. Friday and closes at 10 p.m.; normal admission gate opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Occasion is rain or shine
Tickets: Normal admission is $70 (plus $four.49 price) prematurely via 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Good all weekend. Go to outlawsandlegends.com.
Parking: $5, good all weekend (sticker given driver)
Coolers: $20 any measurement, good all weekend (cooler bands supplied)