AUSTIN — Texas country legend Willie Nelson will perform at an event Sunday for Democrat Beto O'Rourke in Austin, reprising — but scaling down — the concert that brought some 55,000 people to a popular outdoor four years ago in the race for Senate.
Nelson, whose political activism on behalf of Democrats dates back to Jimmy Carter's presidency in the late 1970s, is headlining the event that starts at 2 p.m. CDT at the Moontower Saloon in South Austin. It's billed as the "Vote 'Em Out" rally in O'Rourke's effort to deny Republican Gov. Greg Abbott a third term in the Nov. 8 election.
"Vote 'Em Out" was the title of song Nelson wrote especially for the 2018 event when he performed as part of multi-act concert at Austin's Auditorium Shores as the epic contest between O'Rourke and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was heading into the home stretch.
“If you don’t like who’s in there, vote 'em out," the song's refrain goes. "That’s what election day is all about. And the biggest gun we’ve got is called the ballot box. So if you don’t like who’s in there, vote 'em out.”
O'Rourke, a performing musician in his younger days, joined Nelson on the stage for a rendition of "On the Road Again," of the singer's signature tunes. Earlier in the 2018 campaign, Nelson and O'Rourke teamed up on stage for a performance of "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" and "It's All Going to Pot” before performing a medley of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "I'll Fly Away.”
Sunday's event, which is open to the public at no charge, will like not carry the fanfare of the 2018 nighttime event. O'Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said the 89-year-old singer will perform a "couple of songs" and speak on the candidate's behalf.
O'Rourke will likely speak as well.
On Friday night, O'Rourke and Abbott will share the stage in Edinburg for the campaign's only debate.
Polling shows that, as was the case four years ago, O'Rourke remains an underdog in the state that has not elected a Democratic governor since 1990 and has not elected any Democrat to a statewide office since 1994.
John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Willie Nelson to headline rally for Beto O'Rourke in Austin Sunday