On Saturday we went to the Backyard to hear Willie Nelson. I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve always wanted to see Willie play and now I am complete. Watching a show under the big oak trees at the Backyard is always a great experience and Saturday night was no exception. Despite a forecast for rain, the weather was quite nice: cool and overcast but not too humid.
Willie opened with “Whiskey River,” a perfect set opener if ever there was one. He spent most of the evening playing familiar classics including “All of Me,” “On the Road Again,” “Still is Still Moving to Me,” and my personal favorites “Me and Paul” and “Pancho and Lefty.” With as much material as he has, he probably could have played until dawn, but I’m glad he stuck with the classics. He’s Willie. He doesn’t have to impress anyone.
His band was low-key and mellow, which is about what I expected from Willie, who is now 73. They didn’t really sound like a typical country band. Instead they noodled in out of folksy jam rock, almost jazz, and western swing. Sometimes they sounded country, but they really sounded like they were a bunch of old friends (which they are) just kind of jamming together as they segued from one song to the next often without pause, just drifting like a bunch of people who just enjoy getting together to play a few tunes on the front porch. Perhaps it’s this semi-sloppy, thoroughly endearing aspect of Willie’s music that I love so much. He’s an incredible singer and a talented guitarist, but he’s really just there to enjoy himself and we get to come along for the ride, joining that band of gypsies as they go down the highway.
Check out Lenwood for a rundown of Willie’s Friday night show.