Written by Dave Clements

My wife and I were invited by Mark Powell, organizer of the Outlaws and Legends Music Festival to come up as his guests and enjoy the festival. This festival is held annually in Abilene Texas, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth and about a five hour drive from the Houston area.

We decided to drive up this past Saturday and get there in time to see Texan Trent Willmon take the stage just as afternoon was turning into evening. Trent is a terrific entertainer who lives in Nashville and wears a variety of other hats in the country music scene. He has even been on the big screen in the move Palo Pinto Gold starring Roy Clark and Mel Tillis.  I had seen Trent at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands some years ago and I thought he was really good.   Come to find out if you put him in front of 11,000 people in beautiful weather with a great sound system he can become a real rock star.  What a treat!  Nicely done Trent!

Next up was Shooter Jennings, son of the famous Country Outlaw Waylon Jennings. Some of my most disappointing ‘misses’ as a photographer was to miss photographing Dan Fogelberg. Harry Chapin and yes Waylon Jennings. And then too you might as well throw in Johnny Cash, George Jones and I’d be lying if I didn’t add Elvis. But easy enough to move on regarding my ‘disappointments’ when I had this opportunity to watch Shooter kick some Texas butt. No disappointment there!

Shooter started on his keyboard for a couple of tunes and then was up on his feet, guitar strapped on, to show what he’s really all about. I was impressed with his passion and the way he just put it all out there.  And he did exactly that for the entire one hour set.+

Kevin Flower was next to perform and he did exactly what Kevin Fowler does and that is incite the crowd to get off their asses and stand up, pop another beer and get the party started in a totally Texan sort of way. He shared that his mother thought his song ‘Don’t Touch My Willie’ was nasty and he was reluctant to play it when she was around. ’Can you all say the word NASTY?!!!’ he asked his fans. To the delight of the crowd Fowler announced that Mamma Fowler was no place near. The crowd erupted with so much enthusiasm when he starting singing ’She showed up at my house half past nine a low cut dress and a bottle of wine’, Kevin’s voice temporarily got lost in the cheers!  Fowler is just a natural beer drinking crazy fun loving ‘non crooner who can be one’.  And besides that he is fun to photograph, a really good guy, and three years ago agreed to be in Volume One of my book Raising A Hand sight unseen.  He is a generous performer and the real deal.  Thanks Kevin for ‘raising a hand’ for the girls with Rett syndrome.

Next up was the festival organizer Mark Powell who wears a lot of hats and wears them well. He performed a terrific show on stage, equal to or greater than the amazing feat of pulling together this very successful large scale music festival!  If you haven’t see this Country Singer you owe it to yourself to do so.  This guy has major energy on stage and a voice to match. Plus having been to a few music festivals over the years he does ‘festivals’ very well. Go to your calendar and hold March 27th & 28th for 2020.  Take a road trip to Abilene and we will see you there. You can camp on the grounds or stay nearby in one of the many reasonably priced hotels.

And if you are staying in Abilene after either night of great music you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving as Mark has both Uber and Lyft available with their own entrance for a fast trip back to wherever you’re staying…safely!

The ‘Legend’ headliner this year was Kris Kristofferson, an amazingly talented human being with a long history of singing, acting, serving his country, being a Rhodes Scholar but most importantly an incredible prolific songwriter.  His song credits are too numerous to list here however there are not many better in this reviewers opinion. And if I haven’t already mentioned he brought The Strangers to back him up.  The Strangers are the late great Merle Haggard’s band that includes two of Hag’s sons…Ben and Noel. Both of them were given the opportunity to play their Dad’s hits, Okie From Muskogee, Sing Me Back Home and The Fightin’ Side Of Me.  I must share that it was hard seeing the Strangers again with NO MERLE at the front mic however if Kris steps in for good friend Hag, how can one complain?!.

Thanks Mark for inviting us to your top of the line, terrific festival. A huge thanks also for agreeing to be in Volume Two of Raising A Hand along with Trent, Shooter, Benny and Noel…you guys rock!

Until next time please go see a live show so we can continue to have them around for our kids to enjoy too!