Outlaw Festival Powers Through Heat For An Unforgettable Show at Bethel Woods in Bethel, New York on July 6, 2024



Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Festival returned for a four-month run starting in June. This festival version featured names such as Bob Dylan, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and John Mellencamp. On July 6, the festival touched down at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, just feet away from the original Woodstock.

From the moment you arrive at the amphitheater, there is an aura in the air. There is a sense that you’re standing near a historical musical site and that at any given moment, you could witness history. Fans certainly were in for something special as this show was just Nelson’s second show of the tour after missing a few shows with an illness. Anticipation was in the air from the moment the doors opened.

But, before the 91-year-old country legend graced the stage, three other performers greeted the New York crowd. First up was Celisse. At first, I wasn’t so sure what to expect from the trio which also included drummer Aaron Steele and bassist Sam Arnold. By the first song, it was clear just how talented of musicians they were. Celisse – who was on Broadway – announced to the crowd “I’m in New York, I’m playing to MY people!” and the crowd who were still finding their seats cheered.

It’s inspiring to see Celisse’s passion for her music. At one point during “Use Me,” she walked into the crowd and was soloing while taking in the hot and sunny day. As she walked by, fans were in awe and took out their phones to record an intimate moment in a rather larger venue. Celisse and her band were a great beginning act to start the festival. It’s easy to see why she’s on the tour.


Celisse’s touring band is:

Celisse – Guitar/Lead Vocals

Aaron Steele – Drums

Sam Arnold – Bass




1. Get There

2. Mystery to Me

3. Lost

4. Use Me (Bill Withers cover)

5. Crazy


Up next was the wonderful Plant & Krauss. Their mix of rock-infused country styles fit right in with the vibes of the day. Plant, also known as “The Golden God,” confidently strutted out on stage with the band trailing behind. What I loved most about the band’s set is that they did a few Led Zeppelin songs, a few originals and a few Plant & Page tunes. They were really diverse in their material and weren’t afraid of playing different eras.

Plant cited Krauss as a reason why he has a second career and her vocals fit beautifully with Plants. By the group’s fifth song, they dove into “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin but with a small twist. Replacing Jimmy Page’s monstrous guitar solo was a violin solo instead. It was extremely refreshing to hear a new instrument on such a classic tune. Plant’s voice sounded to be in tip-top shape and he sounded to not have missed a beat. His wails and lyrics sent chills up and down my spine.

At one point in the set in between songs, Plant talked about how his manager with one of his groups said to not play at this one particular festival and go to Clevland, Ohio instead. “That festival” ended up being Woodstock and everyone in the audience had a small chuckle. After catching multiple shows at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, it seems like every artist has some form of a story and personal connection to the old festival.

After each song, the band got a massive ovation from the audience. By now, the fans found their seats and were glued to the stage. Fans were all dancing in their seats as timeless songs were played. I strongly suggest catching Plant & Krauss as soon as possible, they were amazing to see live.


Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’ touring band is:

Robert Plant – Lead Vocals

Alison Krauss – Lead Vocals/Violin

JD McPherson – Guitar

Jay Bellerose – Drums

Dennis Crouch – Bass

Stuart Duncan – Strings

Viktor Krauss – Keys/Guitars




1. Rich Woman (Li’l Millet and His Creoles cover)

2. Fortune Teller (Benny Spellman cover)

3. Can’t Let Go (Randy Weeks cover)

4. The Price of Love (The Everly Brothers cover)

5. Rock and Roll

6. Please Read the Letter

7. High and Lonesome

8. Trouble With My Lover (Allen Toussaint and Leo Nocentelli cover)

9. In the Mood/Matty Groves/Gallows Pole

10. The Battle of Evermore

11. When the Levee Breaks

12. Gone Gone Gone (The Everly Brothers cover)


The thunderous ovation gave way to a minor stage change. Out rolled a piano and a drum kit and the legendary Bob Dylan strolled out onto the stage. Throughout the set, Dylan stood perched comfortably behind his piano but fans didn’t mind. At the beginning of each song, fans cheered as they recognized some of the songs in the set.

In typical Dylan style, his famous way of singing guided him through a 15-song set that lasted over an hour. But, by now, some of the fans got a little restless. The fans that were standing were yelling at other concertgoers to sit down. Even though there was a minor commotion around me, all the fans remained glued on Dylan.

Even though Dylan did not come out from behind the comfort of his piano, he still had a mesmerizing set. It was my first time catching this legendary musician and he did not disappoint. It felt like I was transported to his golden age and seeing him in an enclosed theater. Dylan has some magic within him to capture the attention of every audience member and make them focused and in the moment.


Bob Dylan’s touring band is:

Bob Dylan – Lead Vocals/Piano/Harmonica

Tony Garnier – Bass

Bob Britt – Guitar

Doug Lancio – Guitar

Jim Keltner – Drums




1. Highway 61 Revisited

2. Shooting Star

3. Love Sick

4. Little Queenie (Chuck Berry cover)

5. Mr. Blue (Fleetwood Mac cover)

6. Early Roman Kings

7. Can’t Wait

8. Under the Red Sky

9. Things Have Changed

10. Stella Blue (Grateful Dead cover)

11. Six Days on the Road (Paul Davis cover)

12. Soon After Midnight

13. Ballad of a Thin Man

14. Simple Twist of Fate

15. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight


By 9:45, the cooler air gave way to more pleasantries between the audience and Nelson took the stage. The country icon played 21 songs during his set and each one was more memorable than the last. Nelson, unlike Dylan and Plant, had a backdrop behind him. Perfectly centered on a massive United States flag, Nelson remained on top of his game, it was like he never missed a show.

After each song concluded, fans jumped up to their feet and gave a massive round of applause. I had never heard more loud cheers after each show. Usually, fans cheer that loud at the very beginning and end. Not Nelson’s fans. Each song’s applause was louder than the one before and I could not help but smile.

Sometimes when an artist gets older, they tend to play a chord or two on the guitar and just sing. Nelson on the other hand was out playing all the other musicians on stage. His guitar skills are unmatched to those in the country genre and he had some of the best guitar skills of the night. Backing Nelson was a fantastic group of musicians who truly brought the best out.

Fans behind were in awe of the overall talent of the group and it’s true. While Nelson is the main attraction, he leaves room for the other musicians to be true musicians. The entire band did a perfect job at headlining and closing out the hot and muggy day.

It’s easy to see why the Outlaw Festival has taken off in recent years. It’s because from the moment the first act goes on until Nelson, the music is at its consistent peak. The packed bill is filled with heavy hitters of music and it makes for an overall great experience. If the tour rolls into your town, you aren’t going to want to miss it.


Willie Nelson’s band is:

Willie Nelson – Lead Vocals/Guitar

Mickey Raphael – Harmonica

Billy English – Drums/Percussion

Kevin Smith – Bass

Micah Nelson – Guitar/Vocals

Waylon Payne – Guitar




1. Whiskey River (Johnny Bush cover)

2. Stay a Little Longer (Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys cover)

3. Still Is Still Moving to Me

4. Bloody Mary Morning

5. I Never Cared for You

6. Texas Flood (Larry Davis cover)

7. Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (Ed Bruce cover)

8. Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground

9. On the Road Again

10. You Were Always On My Mind

11. Just Breathe (Pearl Jam cover)

12. Good Hearted Women (Waylon Jennings cover)

13. Georgia (on My Mind) (Hoagy Carmichael and His Orchestra cover)

14. I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train (Billy Joe Shaver cover)

15. Help Me Make It Through the Night (Kris Kristofferson cover)

16. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die

17. The Border (Rodney Crowell cover)

18. Write Your Own Songs

19. Will the Circle By Unbroken? (William MacEwan cover)

20. Living in the Promiseland

21. I Saw the Light (Hank Williams With His Drifting Cowboys cover)






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