Willie’s comin’ back to town

Willie Nelson returns to the Ironstone Amphitheatre Aug. 18.

Willie Nelson and Family returns to the Ironstone Amphitheatre outside Murphys it was announced early this week. He comes to Calaveras County on Aug. 18 with Kacey Musgraves opening the show.

With a six-decade career and more than 200 albums to his name, Nelson is the creative genius behind the classic songs “Crazy,” “Red Headed Stranger” and “Stardust.” He has earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor and activist.

Nelson continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force and in recent years he has released more than 10 new albums, a Top 10 New York Times’ best-selling book and again headlined Farm Aid, the event he co-founded in 1985. He even received his 5th degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul. Nelson headlined the past three years of the ongoing Luck Reunion food and music festival at his ranch in Luck, Texas, and during South by Southwest, he announced the launch of his own cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve, and graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

In 2015, Nelson’s “It’s a Long Story: My Life” was an unvarnished story of his life. He also created a new studio album with Merle Haggard that was titled “Django and Jimmie,” which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Album Chart and No. 7 on Billboard‘s Top 200 album chart. In November 2015, the Library of Congress honored him with its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song for his contributions to popular music. He is the first country music artist to receive the award.

He began 2016 by turning “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” a collection of 11 newly recorded Gershwin classics, loose on a world that still appreciates his guitar licks and soulful voice. The album debuted at No. 1 on both the Top Current Jazz chart and the Top Traditional Jazz chart, and it earned him a Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Later this month, Nelson releases “God’s Problem Child,” his latest studio album that includes 13 new songs. And he’s recording more new songs for upcoming projects as well as touring throughout North America all year long.

Kacey Musgraves is a Texas native who’s a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. She grew up in Golden, Texas, a small town east of Dallas known as the sweet potato capital of Texas.

She started performing in Texas at the age of 8 singing western swing tunes at opry houses. She wrote her first song, “Notice Me,” when she was just 9 and first learned to play the mandolin and then guitar at the age of 12.

In 2008, Musgraves moved to Nashville, Tenn., where one of her first jobs was dressing up as different characters and performing for children’s birthday parties. Shortly after, she signed her first major record deal.

She released the album “Same Trailer Different Park” in 2013 and “Pageant Material” in 2015. They both debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart and were met with positive critical acclaim and recognition. “Same Trailer Different Park” earned her two Grammy awards for Best Country Song (“Merry Go ’Round”) as well as Best Country Album. She also took home the New Artist of the Year award at the 2013 Country Music Association awards, an Academy of Country Music Award for Album of the Year for “Same Trailer Different Park” and the 2014 CMA Award for Song of the Year for “Follow Your Arrow,” a song that was considered “controversial” for the country music format.

In December, Musgraves released her first holiday album, “A Very Kacey Christmas,” which features Leon Bridges, Willie Nelson and the Quebe Sisters. The album included four original songs co-written by Musgraves in addition to her takes on eight holiday favorites.

Musgraves has sold out venues all over the world, including the famed Royal Albert Hall in London. Last year she received the CMA International Artist Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a United States-based artist who contributes to the awareness and development of country music outside America.

This brings the total number of shows planned for the amphitheater to nine. Also on the bill are Toby Keith and an as yet unannounced special guest on June 9; Boston and Joan Jett on June 10; John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter on June 17; the Moody Blues on the “Days of Future Passed” 50th anniversary tour on June 18; Jason Mraz and his Superband on June 25; Matchbox 20, Counting Crows and Rivers & Rust on July 24; the Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton on Aug. 13; and George Benson and Kenny G come to the county for their “Breezin’ and Breathless” tour on Sept. 9.

Tickets for all of the shows are on sale now at ironstoneamphitheatre.net or call 800-745-3000.

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