At his annual 4th of July Picnic near Austin earlier this summer, Willie Nelson welcomed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke onstage to join him on guitar for set-closing renditions of “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” There’s a good chance that the country icon and galvanizing Democratic politician will re-create the moment later this month when Nelson headlines a concert and rally for O’Rourke in Austin.
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While Nelson has performed for politicians in the past — most famously for President Jimmy Carter on the South Lawn of the White House on September 13th, 1980 — the O’Rourke rally will mark his first-ever free, public performance on behalf of a political candidate. The concert, featuring guests Joe Ely, Carrie Rodriguez, Tameca Jones, and Nelson’s sons Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, is set for September 29th at Auditorium Shores.
The 45-year-old O’Rourke, who once performed in the punk band Foss with At the Drive-In’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala, has drawn comparisons to Barack Obama for his grassroots campaign and candid, energetic town halls. In July, he completed a 34-day road trip across Texas, visiting all 254 counties of the state. Current polls put him only four points behind Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.
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“My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson said in a statement. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
O’Rourke is expected to speak to the crowd at the rally, which is open to the public via online registration at O’Rourke’s campaign website.
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Editor’s Note: The subheadline of this story was changed to reflect that Nelson’s upcoming show is the first time he has played a free, public concert on behalf of a politician. In the past, Nelson has played private benefit shows in support of individual politicians.”