The Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation presents the fourth annual Tribute to Townes Van Zandt from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, March 6 at The Forge Bar & Grill in historic downtown Ben Wheeler.
The late Townes Van Zandt is often referred to as the most influential Texas songwriter of the 20th century. Musician Steve Earle says he was “the best songwriter in the world.”
Performers honor the legend in song-swap style during the tribute event. They include Chase Glover, Kevin Tinney, Nate Kipp, Presley Haile, Nick Brumley, and Cole Allen. Other musicians are invited to bring instruments and continue the music in an open jam session after the show.
A variety of recordings are available on the Van Zandt family website www.townesvanzandt.com.
The Van Zandt family — former wife and literary executor Jeanene, and children J.T., Will, and Katie Bell — continue to illuminate his songwriting process and evolution.
“Townes always said that he did not measure his success by the charts, but by how many learning institutions will be studying his work 100 years from now,” Jeanene says. “My job is to make sure that all the material is there.”
Townes Van Zandt died January 1, 1997, at the age of 52 from cardiac arrhythmia while recovering from hip surgery. He is buried in the Van Zandt family plot in Dido Cemetery near Fort Worth. He came from a long line of Texas nobility. His three times great grandfather, Isaac Van Zandt, was a prominent leader of the Republic of Texas and the namesake of Van Zandt County in the Upper East Side of Texas. His great, great uncle Khleber Miller Van Zandt was one of the founders of Fort Worth.
Although he was born into an affluent family, he endured poverty and often sang of folks living on the edge. He was a poet and songwriter beloved by his many fans and peers. Don Williams and Emmylou Harris had hits with his song “If I Needed You.” Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard reached No. 1 with their versions of his song “Pancho and Lefty.”
His influence on Americana music is immense and continues today. Artists who cite Van Zandt as a source of inspiration include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lyle Lovett, Norah Jones, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Garth Brooks to name a few.
For more information on the Tribute to Townes Van Zandt on go to www.theforgebenwheeler.com or call (903) 833-5970.
To learn more about the Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation, go to www.vanzandtacd.com.