Watch: Willie Nelson Makes Triumphant Return for 4th of July Picnic in Camden, N.J.

July 8, 2024
Watch: Willie Nelson Makes Triumphant Return for 4th of July Picnic in Camden, N.J.

Photo via YouTube

On July 4, fans watched in awe as Willie Nelson returned to the stage for his annual 4th of July Picnic, a beloved holiday tradition spanning five decades. Following a brush with illness in the past few weeks, which forced the country legend to sit out the first nine shows of his touring Outlaw Music Festival, Nelson’s first performance of the summer at Camden, N.J.’s Freedom Mortgage Pavillion made the trademark Independence Day celebration so much sweeter.

For the fourth, Nelson assumed the spotlight as the headliner in an all-star bill of Outlaw collaborators, performing after exceptional entries from Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Maren Morris and Celisse, among other special guests. The 91-year-old icon showed his incomparable chops and inextinguishable spirit with a sprawling 22-track engagement, lined with time-tested setlist staples and glinting with special covers and surprises. Shortly after opening with an exuberant “Whiskey River,” Nelson welcomed his son Lukas to join the Family Band for a treatment of “Texas Flood” in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s memorable hit. Lukas and the Family Band stepped in for Shotgun Willie with a tribute set at the outset of the Outlaw tour, and joined again throughout Willie’s picnic set to support runs through Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” “Living in the Promiseland” and more.

Other highlights from Nelson’s highly-anticipated return included classics like “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “You Were Always on My Mind,” “Georgia (on My Mind),” “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “On the Road Again,” which rang out with particular resonance and recalled the artist’s towering legacy of live performance. Nelson’s set also featured the live debut of “The Border,” the chilling and insightful title track from his recently released 75th solo album of new material. To close out a thrilling show, Nelson and his Family Band joined in an instrumental cover of Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light.” Watch a fan-recorded video from the performance below.

After closing out the first leg of the Outlaw Music Festival last night, July 7, with a set at Hershey, Pa.’s Hersheypark Stadium, Nelson will take a brief intermission before kicking off the next sprint of the tour. Beginning with a showing at Chula Vista, Calif.’s North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 29, the second Outlaw run will add John Mellencamp and Brittney Spencer to the bill alongside co-headliners Bob Dylan and Nelson. For tickets and more information, visit

Read on for the complete setlist from Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic.

Willie Nelson
4th of July Picnic
Freedom Mortgage Pavillion – Camden, N.J.
Set: Whiskey River, Stay All Night, Bloody Mary Morning, I Never Cared for You, Texas Flood, Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, On the Road Again, Always on My Mind, Just Breathe, Good Hearted Woman, Georgia (on My Mind), I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train, Help Me Make It Through the Night, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Still Not Dead, The Border+, Write Your Own Songs, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? / I Saw the Light, Living in the Promiseland
+ Live debut

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