Outlaw Music Festival Tour 2024 Kicks Off in Alpharetta, GA & from Wildwood, NJ, a Barefoot Country Music Fest 2024 Recap, A Weekend of Music, Fun, and Patriotic Flair

The 2024 Outlaw Music Festival Tour launched with a bang on Friday night (June 21) in Alpharetta, Georgia, featuring electrifying performances from Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Celisse.

Although Willie Nelson was slated to perform, he was unable to attend due to health concerns. Instead, his son Lukas Nelson and the Family Band took the stage, delivering a powerful set that included a special guest appearance by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.

Plant and Krauss captivated the audience with many of their classic selections, including Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” “The Battle of Evermore,” and their recent release, “When the Levee Breaks.”

In contrast, Dylan surprised fans with a setlist full of unexpected gems, including a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie,” “Under the Red Sky” (performed for the first time in over a decade), and several tracks from his 2012 album, Tempest.

Earlier on Friday, an announcement was made regarding Willie Nelson’s absence from the opening night. The official statement read, “We regret to inform you that Willie Nelson is not feeling well and, per doctor’s orders, has been advised to rest for the next four days. He is expected to make a quick recovery and join the Outlaw Music Festival tour next week. In the meantime, Lukas Nelson and the Family Band, along with a few guests, will perform a special set including Willie’s classics and other songs. Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Celisse will continue to perform as scheduled.”

In a prior press release, Nelson expressed his excitement for the tour: “This year’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour promises to be the biggest and best yet with this lineup of legendary artists. I am thrilled to get back on the road again with my family and friends, playing the music we love for the fans we love.”

The 2024 tour will also feature performances by Brittney Spencer, Southern Avenue, Billy Strings, and John Mellencamp, concluding on September 17 in Buffalo, New York.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Outlaw Festival, Alpharetta, Georgia, 6/21/24, Set List 
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” (Led Zeppelin cover)
6. “Please Read the Letter” (Jimmy Page and Robert Plant cover)
7. “High and Lonesome”
8. “In the Mood” / “Matty Groves” / “Gallows Pole”
9. “The Battle of Evermore” (Led Zeppelin cover)
10. “When the Levee Breaks” (Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy cover)
11. “Gone Gone Gone” (The Everly Brothers cover)

Bob Dylan, Outlaw Festival, Alpharetta, Georgia, 6/21/24, Set List 
1. “My Babe” (Willie Dixon cover)
2. “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”
3. “Simple Twist of Fate”
4. “Little Queenie” (Chuck Berry cover)
5. “Mr. Blue” (The Fleetwoods cover)
6. “Pay in Blood”
7. “Cold, Cold Heart” (Hank Williams With His Drifting Cowboys cover)
8. “Early Roman Kings”
9. “Under the Red Sky” (first performance since 2013)
10. “Things Have Changed”
11. “The Fool” (Sanford Clark cover)
12. “Scarlet Town”
13. “Long and Wasted Years”

Barefoot Country Music Fest 2024: A Weekend of Music, Fun, and Patriotic Flair

This past weekend, a vibrant crowd of 35,000 country music enthusiasts from South Jersey, Philadelphia, and beyond flocked to Wildwood for the fourth edition of the expansive Barefoot Country Music Fest. Since its inception in 2021, this festival has taken over the beach each summer, becoming a must-attend event for country music fans.

The four-day celebration kicked off on Thursday night, but the festival truly came alive on Friday with its first all-day lineup headlined by the Australian star Keith Urban. Country heavyweights Kane Brown and Luke Bryan headlined Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Friday was also “red, white, and blue” day, the festival’s most popular fashion theme. Each day featured a different dress code, and a sea of patriotic fans in American flag hats, shirts, overalls, dresses, socks, boots, sunglasses, capes, and stick-on tattoos, along with generous amounts of glitter, moved across the sandy Wildwood beach. The towering Ferris wheel overlooking the festival was, naturally, decked out in matching colors.

Barefoot has earned its reputation as the Northeast’s biggest summer country party, drawing top acts like Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, and Dan + Shay over the years. Fans were ready to party, with Miller Lite tallboys (the festival’s main sponsor) flowing and long lines for the alcoholic slushie trucks (the frozen Blue Hawaiian was particularly popular).

While past years have seen thunderstorms, Friday was all sun, breezes, and a full strawberry moon as Urban took the Miller Lite main stage for a 90-minute set. Clad in a red flannel, torn blue jeans, and the most peculiar pair of chunky, white platform shoes — which drew some amusing comments from the crowd, “What are those shoes, Keith?!” — Urban, 56, was in high spirits, leading singalongs to hits like “Kiss a Girl,” “Somebody Like You,” and “You’ll Think of Me.”

Urban’s performance was marked by his musicality, frequently showcasing his impressive (if occasionally flashy) guitar skills with piercing solos and energizing ad-libs, adding depth to the sound from his six-piece band. His opening song, a vibrant new track called “Straight Line,” featured one such solo, quickly establishing that Urban was a cut above the strum-happy openers from earlier in the day.

Thankfully, the set didn’t turn into “the Keith Urban guitar recital.” Urban included some fun covers, notably an extended version of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” during which he ventured into the crowd, signing a fan’s hat while continuing to sing. He also added Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” to his own “Kiss a Girl,” Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” to “Somebody Like You,” and Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” to “You’ll Think of Me,” the latter performed solo acoustic in the middle of the crowd, ending with him signing his guitar and giving it away.

During “Long Hot Summer,” which featured some improvised lyrics, Urban approached the show’s sign-language interpreter, Stephanie, and humorously apologized: “I must be giving you a hell of a time.”

Urban didn’t say much else of note to the crowd — just the usual exhortations to have fun and let the music wash away their troubles — but he did share a childhood memory before playing the lively “Wild Hearts”: “The first concert I ever saw, when I was seven years old, was Johnny Cash,” he recalled. “And when you’re seven, that stuff goes deep, man. When he walked out on stage, it just struck me, that was what I wanted to do.”

That’s all well and good, but Johnny Cash would’ve likely thrown those shoes into the Mississippi River.

Just before Urban, Florida star Jake Owen took the main stage with his blend of stadium-country and infectious smiles. Owen, 42, was equally engaging, signing hats, dancing with the interpreter, and rolling a weathered beer cooler down the stage’s center ramp, tossing cold ones to fans. His set was a festival standard, featuring hits like the twangy “Down to the Honky Tonk,” the fitting “Beachin’,” and his biggest radio hit, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” Jersey fans especially enjoyed the Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead or Alive” intro leading into “Best Thing Since Back Roads.”

As the sun set behind Adventure Pier, ‘80s hair metal icon Bret Michaels delivered a high-energy, hour-long set mixing Poison hits with rock and country-adjacent covers: “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” and Sublime’s “What I Got.” Michaels, who has somehow become an honorary party-country leader, roamed the stage, leading singalongs to “Talk Dirty to Me” and “Nothing But a Good Time,” the latter featuring a line of Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders for some lively choreography. Michaels, 61, who grew up in Pennsylvania, made sure to mention his connection to Wildwood: “My entire childhood was spent on that boardwalk and under that boardwalk as I made some less than reputable decisions.”

Earlier in the evening, Nashville singer-songwriter Niko Moon delivered a spirited set, closing with his party anthem “GOOD TIME” and a message for fans: “Yeah, music, yeah, community, but we are out here celebrating life tonight.”

Simply put, the Barefoot Country Music Fest was, once again, a joyous gathering of family and friends dancing on the beach, laughing, snapping selfies, riding a mechanical bull, and heading back to their motel rooms to do it all again the next day. While it’s easy to dismiss this type of music as overly shallow, anything that brings 35,000 people together to forget their troubles (besides a hangover) for a few days can’t be all bad. And as Barefoot continues to establish itself as a well-organized purveyor of warm summer memories, it seems poised to remain New Jersey’s premier country event for years to come.