The Country Throwdown tour,  this year branded as Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown, returns with confirmed acts Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Lee Brice, Craig Campbell and Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real. 4fini Productions, producers of the Warped, Mayhem and Taste Of Chaos tours, will for the second year field the tour.
"We wanted it to have a little bit more of a 'Willie' feel, and in doing so, its like who else do you put out there with Willie?," says 4fini's Sarah Baer, co-producer of the tour with Warped founder Kevin Lyman. "It was a no-brainer to bring Jamey back."
Nelson rarely attaches his name to anything other than his own headlining tours and his legendary 4th of July Picnics; this tour is slated to run "through July 4," and while Baer would not confirm this, it would make sense that the unannounced July 4 date will be a combined Throwdown/Picnic event, and is pretty much guaranteed to be in Texas.
In addition to the seven main artists performing on two stages (a main stage and one side stage), the Bluebird Café Stage will feature six singer-songwriters. These artists will perform intimate "in the round" sets on the Bluebird Café stage throughout the day, as well as nightly performances on a specially designed stage during the main stage set changes. Artists for the Bluebird Café Stage will be announced soon, along with other "lifestyle" concourse attractions.
Unlike last year, Throwdown will not go out as a Live Nation tour and will not play Live Nation sheds. Instead, the tour works with promoters on a market-by-market basis, including AEG Live, Outback Concerts, Higher Ground, Red Mountain Entertainment, Awakening Events, and AC Entertainment, among others, as well as venue buyers.
Several secondary markets are included on the route, and venues are more of the alternative variety for a tour of this type, with variable capacities that can be increased based on ticket sales. "This year we went with venues that wanted us there, that made sense for us to be there, that were a good fit for the tour itself," says Baer. "Markets are booked strategically, looking at traffic and touring smart."
Last year Throwdown averaged better than 8,000 tickets per show in its initial run. Still, four dates were cancelled, a move that attracted attention not so much because they were cancelled (2010 was, after all, a tough year), but because Lyman actually told the truth about why they were cancelled in a Youtube video announcing the scuttled dates: poor ticket sales. "I just figured this was the best ways to reach the fans," Lyman told Billboard at the time. "These people eventually put food on our table, so why don't you tell them what's going on?"
Confirmed sponsors are Harley Davidson and Dickies, with several others in play, and charitable partners in Wounded Warriors, Keep A Breast, and Shirts for a Cure.
CONFIRMED WILLIE NELSON'S COUNTRY THROWDOWN DATES
5/27-Philadelphia, PA @ The MANN
5/28-Gilford, NH @ Meadowbrook US Cellular Pavilion
5/29-Essex Junction, VT @ Champlain Valley Expo
6/3-Nashville, TN @ The Woods at Fontanel
6/4-Little Rock, AR @ North Shore Park at the Arkansas River in North Little Rock
6/11-Sparta, IL @ World Shooting & Recreation Complex
6/16-Roanoke Rapids, NC The Rapids Jam / (Part of the RAPIDS JAM three day festival)*
6/17-Simpsonville, SC @ Charter Ampitheater at Heritage Park
6/18-Waldorf, MD @ Regency Stadium
6/19-Knoxville, TN @ World's Fair Park
6/23-Del Mar, CA @ Grandstand
6/24-Ontario, CA @ Citizens Business Bank Arena
6/25-Pozo, CA @ Pozo Saloon
6/30-McAllen, TX @ Las Palmas Race Park
7/1-Corpus Christi, TX @ Concrete Street Amphitheater
7/2-Eufala, OK @ Eufala Cove Amphitheater