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MUSIC REVIEW: Willie Nelson

Party's all over before it begins


Party's all over before it begins

I was feeling a country vibe as I saddled up the boys and headed out to CMAC on Saturday for the Willie Nelson show. After a bad winter, it finally seemed like a perfect night for an outdoor event. Concertgoers packed the venue and my sweet seat under the shell made me wonder if I could catch a contact buzz from the nearby stage.

Opening act Kacey Musgraves and her band got things going quickly. Musgraves is the new kid in town, a spunky Texan who is best known for hit single, "Merry Go 'Round." Her group's set-closer, an a cappella cover of the Dale Evans and Roy Rogers standard "Happy Trails" was a classy send-off after an impressive performance.

Alison Krauss and Union Station were up next and delighted the packed house with an acoustic set that made me feel like I was at The Grand Ole Opry. Krauss' pristine soprano could melt butter and her cover of The Foundations' "Baby, Now That I've Found You" along with co-lead vocalist Dan Tyminski's rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow" showcased both ends of the group's continuum.

But, of course, this night was all about Willie Nelson and Family. Performing in front of a giant Texas flag, Nelson and company played to an adoring crowd that hung on to every word, every note. The Red Headed Stranger wore a red bandanna, dug into his extensive outlaw country catalogue and delivered numerous original hits, including "On The Road Again," as well as covers like Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe" as a duet with his guitarist son Lukas. Considering his age (81), Nelson looked and sounded well, proving that he hasn't let the years slow him down too much; his seven-piece band played it loose despite being among the tightest in country music. Tunes like "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" and "Beer For My Horses" appeared to get the most response as many in the audience shouted out the choruses.

By the time Nelson rolled into his Hank Williams medley, some of the folks standing across the aisle were swaying like palm trees. The all-too-short set concluded with members of both opening bands joining Willie Nelson and Family for a grand finale. When the performers launched into gospel number "I Saw The Light," it was time to close out the evening.