It’s fair to say it’s been one of the worst-kept secrets in Master Musicians Festival history.
Now, however, it can be proclaimed: Willie Nelson is coming to town.
“Oh my gosh,” exclaimed Tiffany Bourne on Thursday. “We want to scream it from the rooftops.”
Nelson, the iconic country music star with a career spanning six decades, is the cherry on top of the 2013 Master Musicians Festival line-up — a special one, since it marks the 20th edition of the weekend-long outdoor music extravaganza being held here in town.
Given the landmark, festival organizers knew they had to get a big-name guest. Once the final “i” was dotted and “t” crossed on Thursday, they had their man.
“It’s taken this long to get Willie confirmed,” said Bourne, president of the Master Musicians Festival (MMF) board, who noted that it had been in the works for about six months. “We’re ready to tell the world. A lot of our fans who come from out of town have no idea.”
The ones closer to Somerset? They may have had it already figured it out. Last Thursday, the official MMF 2013 line-up announcement was made at the Harbor Restaurant.
One problem: Even though the board felt like it had Nelson mostly in-pocket, the details weren’t completely figured out yet. So organizers had to tease a big-name guest on the way ... without dropping that big name.
“I didn’t drop the hint; the audience dropped it for us,” said Bourne with a laugh. “I didn’t confirm or deny what a lot of people were shouting out.”
Nelson is unquestionably a huge get for a town like Somerset, being the type of artist who’s been playing cavernous venues in major cities for longer than Bourne has even been alive. At 79, Nelson — the man behind hits like “On the Road Again,” “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” and a particularly memorable take on “Always on My Mind” — has racked up 10 Grammy Awards (out of 37 total music awards), turned out 67 studio albums (among others), appeared in movies, written books, engaged in political activism, and done just about everything a star of his stature could accomplish.