Willie Nelson

Written by on January 26, 2012 in January 26, 2012, Live Reviews - Comments Off on Willie Nelson

Rings in the New Year with Family and Friends

Photographs by Scott Moore/Limelight Imaging

Willie NelsonCountry music legend and hometown hero, Willie Nelson, chose to bid farewell to 2011 and usher in 2012 in grand style with back-to-back sold out shows featuring some of his family and friends at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on December 30th and 31st. The two shows featured some familiar acts but were totally different at the same time.

On Friday, December 30, Ray Price was the first to take the stage. The 85 yr old Texas-born Country Music Hall of Fame member may have slowed down a bit, but the crowd stilled loved his silky vocals, just the same.

After Price, the folk/pop sounds of Folk Uke entertained the audience. The duo is comprised of two young women who just happen to be the daughters of some American music greats. Amy Nelson is the daughter of Willie Nelson and Cathy Guthrie is the daughter of Arlo Guthrie and granddaughter of the legendary folk musician and American storyteller, Woody Guthrie.

Next up on the night was the great Willie Nelson. Willie got his set rolling in familiar style with “Whiskey River” and then proceeded to entertain the crowd with many of his great hits including “Crazy,” “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain,” and “Momma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Willie’s sister, Bobbie, once again rocked the piano keys as part of the Family Band. Unfortunately, the Family lost one of its members at the beginning of December when Dan “Bee” Spears, Willie’s longtime friend and bass player, unexpectedly passed away at his home near Nashville. Spears had been the heartbeat of the Family Band for more than 40 years.

Willie NelsonClosing out the night was Willie’s son, Lukas Nelson. Those audience members who had the presence of mind to stick around until the conclusion of the show, were treated to an awesome, energetic set by Lukas and his band, Promise of the Real. Although the younger Nelson’s band is definitely American rock and roll, a subtle hint of Willie’s voice can still be heard in him. Lukas and Promise of the Real were joined by another of Willie’s sons, Micah, bringing his interpretive art performance to the stage. Also joining Lukas on stage this night was Grammy Award nominated country music artist, Jamey Johnson.

On Saturday evening, New Years Eve 2011, the audience at the ACL Live venue was treated to a real Texas-sized party as Willie and Family took the stage for a second night of epic performances. Making this show unique was the fact that it was broadcast live on Willie’s Roadhouse, Willie’s Sirius XM radio station.

Willie NelsonFirst up again was Ray Price, whose friendship with Willie goes back to 1960, when Willie joined Price’s band as his bassist. Price entertained the crowd with some of his classic hits including “San Antonio Rose.”

Next up was Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real whose members include Anthony LoGerfo on drums, Tato Melgar on percussion, Corey McCormick on bass, and John Avila on bass, with Micah Nelson presenting interpretive art.

After Promise of the Real, Folk Uke, with Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, took the stage for a short set before the star of the night, Mr. Willie Nelson, got the party started with “Whiskey River,” performed in front of a giant Lone Star State Flag.

Despite being 78 years old, Nelson’s voice is still as pure and strong as ever. This was evident as he thrilled the crowd with many of his classics including “Always on My Mind,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Angels Flying too Close to the Ground,” and covers of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Move it on Over.” Willie was joined on stage by son Lukas for a sizzling version of the Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood.” One of the highlights of the night came from Willie’s powerful trio of gospel songs “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “I’ll Fly Away,” and “I Saw the Light.” While these songs were presented with all of the reverence they were due, Willie also introduced his new “gospel” song to the audience. In true Willie style, the new song is titled, “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die.”

Willie NelsonWillie NelsonWillie NelsonTo ring in the New Year, at midnight, Willie was joined by Father Time, who was lowered for the countdown to midnight in a replica of a longhorn head, Baby New Year and a colorful balloon drop. The party and music continued after the traditional midnight festivities with ZZ Top front man, Billy Gibbons, joining Willie on stage.

Closing out the night for Willie was another Austin favorite, the alternative country band, The Gourds. The Gourds were joined on stage by actor and Texas native, Dennis Quaid, who played a mean guitar.