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Fifth Annual Tribute to Townes Van Zandt Scheduled in Van Zandt County

BEN WHEELER — The fifth annual Tribute to Townes Van Zandt takes place from 2-4 p.m. March 5 at The Forge Bar & Grill in Ben Wheeler. Presented by the Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation, performers pay tribute to the most influential Texas songwriter of the 20th century.

This year’s show includes several local singer-songwriters who will sing Townes Van Zandt songs and some of their own that he inspired. Performers include CM Talkington, Erin York, Tin Travis, Guthrie Kennard, Lucas Kelm, Joshua Wallace, and Jeff Hewitt.

New this year on stage are poets reciting their Townes Van Zandt-inspired poems. Featured are Cadence Musick, Victoria Phillips, and Tom Geddie.

Other poets and singer-songwriters are invited to bring instruments and continue the music in a campfire open jam session after the show.

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. 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 go to or call (903) 833-5970.

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