Concert Sutra Girls Want To Join Willie Nelson’s Family

Written by terri sapp

Photographed by Leah Yetter, Photographer

© Concert Sutra 2006, All Rights Reserved

Willie Nelson

click photos for photo gallery

            For me, the only thing missing from the Willie Nelson show on July 19, 2006 at the City Auditorium in Macon, Georgia was my Daddy!  The crowd at this concert was probably the most diverse I have ever seen.  There were children, teens, young adults, middle agers, and even grandfolk, of all shapes, colors, and sizes, all relishing in the beautiful music playing throughout the night!  We saw one lady dancing down the aisle that could have been rescued from the Titanic!  Even the mix of musicians on the stage spanned a wide range.  The opening act, Willie’s sons Lukas and Micha’s band, Harmonic Tribe, featured one of the most inviting dready boys, Marty Dread, with a fine voice, and smooth moves.  The Harmonic Tribe has three guitars, a bass, drums, congas, and the cute dready boy, Marty Dread, shaking things, along with his ass.  The main attraction, even here, though came when they were joined by Willie Nelson for a few numbers.  The standout collaboration during the Harmonic Tribe’s set was “What Happened to Peace on Earth.”  Lukas Nelson is no doubt his father’s son, and did not fall far from the tree.  His voice has a similar quality to his Dad, and his picking skills are polished and well-groomed.  Lukas’s organic talent really shines on a very bluesy “Sky Is Crying.”  Surprisingly enough, if one was expecting a “Country show” going to a Willie Nelson concert, they would be sorely disappointed, because throughout the night, I kept thinking how the music was deeply rooted in the blues and rock and roll.  Willie even threw in a little bit of gospel music! 

            When Willie finally came out, with the Texas flag hanging in the back, he waved at Leah (photographer) and smiled and winked at me!  That was so exciting.  We were the only ones, other than the local news paper that were representing in the “press pit.”  He looked as if he enjoyed the cutie pie ladies taking his picture!  He is SO cute, and has a smile that could melt the heart of any lady!  He opened the show with “Whiskey River,” and then went straight into a wonderfully bluegrassy version of “Still is Still Moving.”  “And it’s hard to explain how I feel it won’t go in words but I know that it’s real.  I can be moving or I can be still.  But still is still moving me still is still moving to me.”  Willie’s son, Lukas, also played one of the guitars in Willie’s band, hotly sporting a killer Ramones T-Shirt.  They work so well together!  It is no surprise that Willie raised this kid, because he is a bad ass!  Another of Willie’s sons (obviously the younger of the two), Micha Nelson, also played in the band with his Dad and brother.  Leah and I noticed him before Willie Nelson & soneven realizing that he was of the loins of master Nelson.  All we could say was, “Damn, that is a good looking stage!!”  I have decided that Willie Nelson has just as good of DNA as the MAN, Bob Marley himself.  I would suggest that the Marley boys get together for the loveliest collaboration ever!  For a bit of classic country, Willie gives up a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” which is a perfect choice for someone like me who normally would not think to attend a “country music” concert.  Nelson then flows directly into “Night Life,” which supports my theory that Willie Nelson is a Texan Blues man.  “Listen to the blues that they’re playin’.  Listen what the blues are sayin’.”  Toward the end of this rendition of “Night Life,” they throw in a reggae beat, and back to business.  I am assuming that this comes from the fact that this year, Nelson put out (along with a ridiculous amount of other new cds) his first Reggae album called Country Man.  I can’t wait to hear it!  I do not think he played any songs from it at this show, but I WILL be checking it out asap.

            To add to the family vibe, Willie had his sister, Bobby on the piano.  She had her own solo, and played on most (if not all) of the songs during Willie’s set.  Jody Payne steps up to the mic for the “Workin’ Man Blues,” which is a mix between country and the blues.  The guitar work here, though, is pure rock’n’roll.  To slow things down a bit, Willie almost had me in tears with his sweet “Help Me Make it Through the Night.”  His lullaby voice gets me every time.  “Let the devil take tomorrow cause tonight I need a friend.  Yesterday is dead and gone and tomorrow’s out of sight.  And Willie Nelsonit’s sad to be alone help me make it through the night.”  On a lighter note, Janis Joplin cover “Me and Bobby McGee,” Texas style.  Hearing this song in this capacity gave me a new appreciation for covering songs across genres.  I feel like more artists should embrace it!  Not that Janis didn’t have a bit of twang about her, but the versions were so different, it was like two separate songs. 

            In addition to all of the oldie goldie classics from Willie’s catalogue, we also heard some of his many many new songs from all of these new albums he has recently put out!  Willie even let Lukas take the mic for “It’s Flooding Down in Texas.”  The crowd loves him, and went wild every time he stepped up to sing or play.  One day, he will be a household name just like his father.  I can tell this kid grew up listening to and emulating masters like Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and even Jimi Hendrix.  His style flows from him with ease, like he came out of the womb strummin.’  Literally, he doesn’t look old enough to be such an amazing musician.  Lukas must be some kind of prodigy, or something!  What would a night with Willie Nelson be without “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys?”  “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.  They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone.  Even with someone they love.”  Willie Nelson had me, personally, on an emotional rollercoaster with his set.  Immediately after having a grand old time with his words of wisdom for all you mothers out there, he gracefully led us to experience first hand an “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”  Now, he REALLY had me weeping!  DAMMIT!  “Fly on, fly on, past the speed of sound.  I’d rather see you up than see you down.  So, leave me if you need to.  I will still remember angel flying too close to the ground.” 

            Luckily for me, Willie Nelson knows how to please, because I was not sad for long, as he immediately began to reminisce being “On The Road Again.”  I couldn’t help wanting to grab my Daddy’s hand and dance a Sapp jig during this number.  I was afraid this meant we were about to loose Willie for him jumping back on the road.  Fortunately for Willie Nelsonthis satisfied audience, he was just warming us up still.  Apparently, Willie was going to miss us, too, because he serenaded us with “Always On My Mind.”  Such a touching love (or love lost) song!  “Tell me tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died.  And give me give me one more chance to keep you satisfied I’ll keep you satisfied.  Little things I should have said and done…You were always on my mind you were always on my mind.”  So sweet! 
            Toward the end of the show, Willie pulls the Harmonic Tribe back on stage for a bit of gospel.  Willie must have known he was in the “bible belt,” because the crowd was never as animated until they were singing along to their favorite hymns from church.  “May the Circle Be Unbroken” started it off.  Even I was moved to sing along when he busted out my grandma’s old favorite hymn, “I’ll Fly Away.”  I am always happy to hear musicians play this one, no matter who it is.  The gospel actually went on for a minute, with all of Nelson’s band, AND all of the hot and sexies from the Harmonic Tribe.  I was Mos Def “feeling the spirit” with all of this excitement going down!  We even got a taste of Cajun from these boys!

            Leave it to Willie to hand out a cover of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin.’”  Much to my surprise, this, coupled with “Move it on Over,” was the twangiest moment in the whole night!  Another moment when the crowd went wild was, of course, Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind.”  His voice is so perfect for this song, one could believe he may have written it himself.  Everyone knows that Ray Charles appreciated the country music!  Apparently, Willie was off of the road for one reason or another at one point, and wrote a song after my heart…“Too much pain pills, too much pot…trying to be something that I’m not…Superman.”  Just when we thought we had gotten all the Willie’s famous hits, he plays “City of New Orleans,” and “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before.”  I much prefer this adaptation (with Willie and Lukas harmonizing) to the original Nelson played with Julio Iglesias!  I figured for sure that hearing the opening song, “Whiskey River,” again meant we were about to loose Mr. Nelson.  However, he was not done with the gospel bit, because “I Saw The Light” Rang out before the encore even.  Nelson’s sister, Bobby’s, piano playing really shines through on this one.

            With little to no effort, the swarm of fans were able to persuade Willie out for one more song before stealing off to the tour bus and leaving us with just our precious memories of this lovely night with the Nelson family.  I was not expecting to get so much diversity at the Willie Nelson concert, and will never forget it!

            If you want to catch the best part of our experience with Willie, please be sure to visit this month’s photo gallery, photographed (and, as always, hosted) by the fabulous Leah Yetter, located at:  http://www.leahyetter.com/cswillie0706/.  Keep a lookout for all the hot “fresh meat” on the music circuit (a.k.a. the Nelson boys)…

            For more information on Willie Nelson’s tour schedule, fan club, and wonderful array of music, visit Willie’s website at http://www.willienelson.com/.  You can also check out Lukas and Micha Nelson’s band, Harmonic Tribe, at www.myspace.com/harmonictribe.