Along with Lukas and his band, Lee Brice, Craig Campbell, Drake White, Erin Enderlin, and some of the Bluebird Café stage artists were on hand for the Tex-Mex-tinged kickoff event, which was supposed to be held on the rooftop of BMI’s Music Row headquarters, but was moved inside due to the threat of impending bad weather. The cicadas currently swarming throughout Nashville (as they do every 13 years) are supposedly attracted to loud noises, so they were also a factor in moving the show indoors. The dive-bombing locusts missed quite a treat as Lukas and his smoking band (drummer Anthony LoGerfo, percussionist Tato Melgar, and bassist Corey McCormick) took the stage for a half-hour set featuring some tunes from his current self-titled CD.
Lee, Craig, and the rest of the crowd stood enraptured as Lukas ripped through a smoldering set of songs that highlighted both his extraordinary guitar skills and a soulful voice that more than once brought to mind his legendary dad. Singing has always been a family affair for Willie, and Lukas proudly carries on the tradition, as he invited his sister Amy and his niece Raylynn up onstage to join him on the vibey, aching ballad, ‘Sound of Your Memory.’ While that and other ballads, such as ‘Don’t Lose Your Mind,’ are reminiscent of the simplistic beauty of classic Willie tunes, Lukas’ uptempo tunes call up the ghost of one of his other heroes, Stevie Ray Vaughan. By the time his axe hit his mouth (he plays guitar with his teeth during his show), the crowd was clapping and cheering for more.
The Throwdown tour kicks off this Friday, May 27 in Philadelphia, and runs through July 4 in Fort Worth, where Willie will combine his annual picnic with the final Throwdown show at Billy Bob’s. Along with main stage and side stage performers, the tour will also include the smaller Bluebird Café stage featuring in-the-round sets from up-and-coming singer-songwriters.