My son, now a high school graduate, is doing what all young adults should do after graduating. He’s hitting the road with his three best friends. After weeks of planning, changing their minds a hundred times on where to stay, what to bring, when to leave and where to go, they finally piled in a Toyota mini van early this morning. They’re on their way. An adventure, says my mom, is something all people should experience. Take a chance. Hit the road. Fly to an unexplored destination.
Of course with this road trip, the boys are bringing their highly organized play lists. Jacob pored over his iTunes for just the right songs for the journey south. Unfortunately, it did not include the ultimate road trip song, “On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson. Cue the video:
The boys, being a bit on the nerdy side, made some rules, which included giving the driver the power to veto any song selection he felt unworthy or annoying. The three remaining boys can only veto a song the driver chooses by a 3-vote unanimous agreement. I’m sure there are other rules, but those stuck in my mind as the most important for any road trip with friends.
They’ll make their way from Washington (and enjoy rush-hour traffic on this beautiful Monday morning from Seattle to Portland) to their first overnight stop in Crescent City, CA. The next day will be spent wandering through the mighty Redwoods before the long haul to Southern Cal, where they’ll spend a few days playing at Magic Mountain, Universal’s City Walk, and gawking in Hollywood. Then, a weary journey north, back home.
While planning the trip over the last few weeks, we shoveled shitloads of advice at our son, most of it translated through his ears and into his intelligent brain as: “bla-bla bla bla bla bla-bla bla bla bla…” Yeah, I know he’s a grownup and doesn’t need to hear our advice any longer. But, we feel, as eternal parents, we must give our unsolicited advice to feel better about ourselves! Disclaimers, if you will. We TOLD him not to…so if he does it anyway, we’re off the hook.
We want him to be safe and just have a good time. We want him to experience all the fun and joy of being free on the road, even just for this one week. Just so long as they don’t go so far as Jack Kerouac. It’s hard to let go.
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Concert Season 2013 is winding down. I thought I’d get a head start and list some highlights of the year in music. I still have a few shows I’m hoping to see before the year is up, but my busy schedule might prevent me from posting anything until 2014. I went to a few shows in the spring and summer that I never blogged about but deserve some mention here. There are also a few bands mentioned below that I didn’t get to see this year, but I’m hoping will show up in 2014. Some have new albums out, too. I’ll keep it short and will give you the basic information. It will be up to you, dear reader, to click on the links and look up these terrific bands, explore their music and purchase some CD’s for the gift-giving season. Most importantly, GET OUT THERE AND SEE A SHOW!
Local Seattle-Area Bands: (Mind you, this is an incomplete list of the enormously talented bands in Seattle)
Jackrabbit – One of our favorite little bands in Seattle. We kicked off the year seeing them at The Tractor in January. The threesome kicks ass on stage. Never a disappointment. They add new songs to the setlist quite frequently.
Massy Ferguson – A Seattle Rock-n-Roll/Country Rock Darling. We went to their CD Release Party for Victory and Ruins at The Triple Door. My Plus 1 and I had a fantastic time sitting in the front row for this performance which was also broadcast live for kids struggling with various illnesses in a local hospital. Frontman Ethan Anderson gave his all, as usual. It was the best performance by the band so far, in my opinion, and I’ve seen them play many shows over the years. We also saw them on a rainy summer evening in Duvall at an outdoor performance. They jinxed our perfect rain-free summer! A hearty group of fans braved the showers and were treated with another fine show by the boys. We picked up a cool t-shirt after the show. Massy Ferguson also frequent some of the wineries in Eastern Washington, so check ‘em out in Wenatchee, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla sometime. Here’s a blog I wrote last year for No Depression.
The Swearengens – Their motto is “The Seattle alt-country band your mama warned you about.” We try to see this band as often as possible. I love their big sound. You never know what will happen at one of their shows: dancing, drinking, special guests and lots of friends joining in on the fun. Oh, and never have a whiskey drinkin’ contest with frontman Fredd Luongo. You will lose. Their latest album, Waiting on the Sunrise is a treat. Check out their link and listen or purchase some merch.
Davidson Hart Kingsbery – His self-titled new album is getting some positive, nation-wide press. We saw part of his show in January, and dug it.
The Rainieros – Another tight country band with a Western swing kicker. Their latest album, Last Call received critical acclaim and was one of the top Americana albums of 2012. We saw them open for Big Sandy in August.
The Ganges River Band – We saw them for the first time at The Sunset this summer. They opened for Shinyribs and blasted through a clean set of country. Country Dave Harmonson helped out on pedal steel and electric guitar. Always a treat.
Ole Tinder – Ole timey country. We saw them open for Massy Ferguson at Barboza and at The Tractor with Jackrabbit. Mike Giacolino also has a solo project while Nils Peterson plays in another band called Rose Windows. JB Kardong also sits in with other bands including Jackrabbit and Sera Cahoone.
The Dusty 45’s – I’ll try to finish up a blog I started of this energetic show. Billy Joe Huels is THE Frontman. No one can light a trumpet ablaze, stand on a bass and blow the way he can! We went to a benefit concert supporting the DESC and were thoroughly entertained.
Star Anna – Opened solo for The Dusty 45’s. We’ve seen her shows several times. Her voice will grab your heart and rip it out. She has a new album out right now called Go To Hell, so pick it up and prepare to be mesmerized by her haunting vocals.
The Gourds – If Tom Petty is my musical Jesus, then The Gourds are my Church. Always a religious experience. My soul runneth over at every show, including the latest in August at The Tractor. One of my Best Weekends Ever.
Shinyribs – Kevin Russell’s solo project. He has so much creative energy that one band (The Gourds) isn’t enough for him. If you’re lucky, he’ll open for The Gourds and you’ll get double the fun. Check out his bandcamp site for a little booty shakin’ music. We saw him again just two weeks after his stint at The Tractor. He came back and played at The Sunset!
The Wild Feathers – This big band opened for Willie Nelson at Marymoor and we fell in love with them. Besides their original tunes, they managed to cover Tom Petty’s “Listen To Her Heart” with my approval.
Big Sandy – Roots rock, rockabilly and Western swing. Big Sandy’s a ball of energy and the king of smooth. He plays in Southern Cal most of the year, but tours around the country and Europe, too. If he shows up with Los Straitjackets (see below), it’s a Must-See show. We saw him in August at The Tractor.
Los Straitjackets – Eddie Angel’s lucha libre mask-wearing band of psycho surf musicians and one of Marshall Chapman’s (see Marshall below) favorite bands. Angel was actually the guitarist in Marshall’s band back in the 80’s. They’re known world-wide for their onstage antics and surf guitar mastery. I had the pleasure of meeting them at a local show a couple of years ago. They’re currently touring the East Coast. Hoping to see them again in 2014.
Greg Townson – Solo artist, Hi-Riser (Meet the Hi-Risers Here!) and Gregorio El Grande of Los Straitjackets. He can sing a swoon-worthy love song (buy his latest album, On Your Side) or perform a face-melting guitar solo. Check him out in Rochester, NY or on the current Los Straitjackets tour. He also joins the bands overseas to Italy, Spain and other countries.
Marshall Chapman – A Nashville treasure and my musical hero. Rodney Crowell calls her “The Goddess of Tall”. The first time I saw her was in 2011 at The Station Inn , a Nashville mecca for singer/songwriters of country, Americana and bluegrass. All my preconceived notions of Nashville flew out the window that night. She was REAL. She was CANDID. She had bare feet. And she wore basketball shorts to the performance. I liked her before she ever sang a note. Here is my blog of that show (scroll down a bit to find the Nashville section). She has a new album and a couple of books that are Must-Reads for music lovers. Check her website for more info and purchase some merch!
My husband, who travels to the Nashville area often, had a chance to see her play again this year at The Bluebird Cafe, another very famous yet tiny Nashville hangout. Will Kimbrough (see below) accompanied her on guitar once again to promote her new album, Blaze of Glory, which is getting rave reviews. I was so jealous that my husband attended the show without me, but I knew he would return with her signed CD. What I missed most were the stories that accompanied the songs. My husband recounted a few stories to me when he returned. She also told the audience that this album is meant to be shared with the one you love. Play it in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and the lights low. By the fifth song, you should be ripping each other’s clothes off.
My sweet husband did bring home a signed copy of Marshall’s CD. Throughout the album, the instruments stay firmly put in the background, allowing Marshall’s vocals and lyrics to shine. Occasionally, Mr. Mike Utley, one of Jimmy Buffet’s cohorts and co-producer of this album, drops in for a visit with an organ accompaniment. The first two songs offer some good ol’ rock and roll, and one includes The Reverend Todd Snider on vocals. After that, she pulls in for a sexy slow dance. A new genre is born, says Marshall: “Torch-song Americana”. Hear some tunes here.
Will Kimbrough – Another Nashville hero whom I found through Jimmy Buffett. We’ve seen him perform several times in various locations solo, with Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Todd Snider and with Marshall Chapman in Nashville. He just released a solo album, Sideshow Love, and will perform in the Seattle-Bellingham area in early January 2014! More info soon!! A MUST-SEE EVENT!!!
Willie Sugarcapps – An Americana supergroup starring Will Kimbrough- also with new album out this year. They are getting outstanding press and are currently enjoying a Gulf Shores Shrimp Fest weekend in Alabama.
Todd Snider – Now, The Reverend Todd Snider. He received his license to officiate in support of gay marriage. Part folk/Americana, part country, and part rock-n-roll. He can make a political statement in a song before you know what hit you. His live shows are a stand-up comedy act with some music thrown in. He makes you think, laugh and generally just have fun. He said he isn’t trying to preach to you, either. He tells these stories because they rhyme. We also saw him at The Triple Door last year, and I wrote a review for Randomvile. We saw him at The Zoo this summer on a perfect Sunday evening. He brought along Hayes Carll, whom I coined Todd Jr. by the end of his set. He was also a storyteller, and had funny songs that accompanied the backstories. His voice was a little more country than Todd’s, more akin to Jack Ingraham. Carll also had some inappropriate songs that he couldn’t sing because of “the children” in attendance. On his website, he had a ton of videos. Shawn Mullins, , of the notorious talk-sing “Rockabye” song, was a very pleasant surprise. His guitar playing was superb, and his other songs rich and interesting. Sarah Jarosz opened Todd’s show. I really enjoyed her clear folk vocals accompanied by a fiddler and a cellist, who plucked his instrument like a bass. She did a Bob Dylan cover of “Ring Them Bells” and it was wonderful. She only played about a half-hour set, but kept the audience’s attention the entire time.
Tommy Womack – Another favorite Nashville/Kentucky solo artist, a Daddy with Will Kimbrough, and collaborator with many others including Todd Snider. He has an album out (several, actually), and plays regularly at The Station Inn with Will and Marshall. He also wrote a humorous and heartbreaking tell-all about his life in the band Government Cheese called Cheese Chronicles. A very entertaining read. Visit with him on YouTube every Monday Morning for a cup of coffee (see his website or FB for more info) and pick up your own coffee mug on his website. “Don’t let the bastards get you down!” I have yet to meet Tommy, but P got to meet him at The Station Inn last year. I’m hoping to make it back to Nashville in 2014.
Have I missed anyone here? I’m sure I have. It’s been a tough year to find time to get out there, so we’ve been very picky about our show dates. We try to see our regulars first and foremost. Once in a blue moon we see a new band or enjoy an opening set; it’s always a nice surprise to add one to our “favorite band” list,
The Holy Trinity: Roots Rock with Big Sandy, Country with Willie Nelson and Americana with The Gourds. Two glorious, consecutive nights of live music rank in my Top 5 Best Weekends of All Time. I’m not sure where they rank in the Top 5; I am sure I’ll post it when I figure that out.
On Thursday the 22nd I came home from a hot and brutal workout, and P was grilling two beautiful salmon tails along with bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden. YUM. We ate leisurely at the table, and then P asked me a very important question. Did I want to go to Big Sandy tonight? DID I want to go to Big Sandy?? WELL! I’d been thinking about that show all week. I knew we were going to Willie Nelson on Friday, but we purposely took Friday off to relax and not feel rushed to get to the show. Thursday evening would be optional for relaxing or going out. I did not take long to decide; I got ready in record time.
We arrived at The Tractor early enough to get our favorite table (really, we should have our names etched in brass and attached to that little table), right up front, Stage Right. I recognized some of my FB musician buddies wandering around, but I felt shy. I wasn’t planning to write an official review this time, so it was hard for me to approach them without a business card or direct questions about the upcoming show. Then I recognized a woman named Gaby in the audience. She happens to work at our local grocery store. I mentioned to her that I have a pic of her from last year’s show and that I wrote a blog. She then went on to say she is also in a country/western band and gave me her card. Not only that, but she is German, and we then had more to talk about because our boy was on an exchange trip in Hamburg at that moment. I enjoyed getting to know her “other self” beyond her job at the grocery store. I love to learn about people’s passions. We’ll be sure to check out their show sometime, too.
Before the show began, I worked my way over to Big S to say hello, and see if he remembered my writing about his show last year (check out the link for a more detailed review of his show!). He said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, thank you for spreading the word about us!” Or something like that. I had a feeling he really didn’t remember me or my review. That was ok, I was just happy to be there again, because I knew he would tear it up on stage.
The Rainieros (check out their link for a taste of their awesome honky tonk sound!) opened the show and played a nice set of Country/Western Swing, and the crowd filled in. They left a semi-circle of dance space where a handful of two-steppers twirled around. We enjoyed their country twang fronted by Liam Fitzgerald and tight sound with Nick Streeter on guitar. I was so glad I decided to go and that P offered in the first place. My place is in the audience. My soul is only satisfied there, looking up at that stage.
Big Sandy was on next and the crowd once again crushed in around us. I only wished I had my good camera, but knew it was in our boy’s capable hands as he toured as an exchange student in Germany this month. My old camera worked, but the pics were grainy and blurry, unless I took flash pics; I hated to do that too often.
Big Sandy had new Fly-Rite Boys along for the ride. He had his left-hand man Ashley Kingman on guitar, a 20-yr vet, but the drummer and bass player, Kevin Stewart were new to us. Big Sandy brings such a keyed-up set of in-your-face roots rock. I just love it. His smooth voice never falters. I was in heaven! I love the energy on the stage and in the crowd. We share the yin and the yang. In electrical terms, think of it as completing a circuit–the electrons flow in a circular motion (stage to audience, back to stage, etc.) until the circuit is broken (the music stops and the fans disperse).
Just as I remembered from last year, Big Sandy and his band poured their souls into each song. Some songs started out with a quieter tone, showcasing Big Sandy’s buttery voice; but then he’d raise a hand, snap his arm out, and the rest of the band would jump in and explode on the chorus. My favorite song of the night was one I remembered from last year called “Jumping From Six to Six” which just rocked in that old Bill Haley style.
He has a new album out now, celebrating 25 years of Big Sandy and Co. called What A Dream It’s Been, an all-acoustic record. The album includes remixes, remakes and original tunes. He’s currently touring the Northeast, and will make his way down the East Coast. Check out his tour dates on his website and go, go, go!
We were starving by the time the show ended, so we drove to Dick’s for a late-night burger. Always a mistake; I came home with a gut-bomb in the belly and had a rough time getting to sleep. P wanted to stay up and watch a Seahawks football game, too; so when we finally went out, it was after 2:30. Ugh. At six am, the cats were up. I finally crawled out about 8:00, not being able to fall back to sleep.
At least we had most of Friday to recover. I stayed horizontal most of the day and just tried to relax. We had to get ready around 4 or so for Willie Nelson and make sure we had time to eat before the big show.
We got to Marymoor about 6:00, found our seats (4th Row, Stage Right!), dropped off our sweatshirt bag and headed back to the food trucks. We settled on the “Off the Rez” food truck for tacos and frybread. The tacos were so delicious, made with a frybread base. The seasoned meat, light sauce and cabbage rested on it like a tostada. The frybread dessert included a cinnamon/sugar topping. That hit the SPOT.
We saw our Bellingham friend L and her family atop the grassy knoll, with blankets, lawn chairs and lots of goodies. It was great to see her again. Her high energy and love for living every moment to its fullest is infectious.
I read that Marymoor can accommodate up to 5,000 people. The venue filled up quickly as we finished the tacos and drinks. I was glad we paid extra for seats so close to the stage; I wanted to absorb the band’s energy and soak in Willie’s vibe.
The opener was The Wild Feathers, a Nashville quintuplet. Their country music rocked with three electric guitars, bass and drums. The four guitarists lined up across the stage and nailed beautiful harmonies, akin to the old country boy bands, only with much more rock. They seemed honored to open for Willie, too, and thanked him many times during their performance. Pat purchased their debut album after the show, and we listened to it the rest of the week. Their clear harmonies shone throughout the CD. A cool marketing tool they used was to perforate the CD jacket and duplicate the CD on the other side. The song list and liner notes were the same on each side, except at the top left, it said “To Keep”, and on the top right, “To Share”. After I got home, I carefully tore the jacket in half and shared the other CD with my friend.
After a relatively short break, the canned music stopped abruptly; I knew Willie Nelson was about to come out. He walked on stage from a back curtain and I jumped up. “Willie’s here!” I yelled. He was joined by his “little sister”, 82-year-old Bobbie on piano, his buddy Paul on drums, Paul’s brother helping on other percussion, a bass player and the same harmonica player he had when Mom and I saw him at Puyallup Fair a few years ago, named Mickey Raphael.
I cannot believe I was lucky enough to see Willie for the 3rd time in the last 6 years. Although his vocals were more of a low, sing/talk style (I’m guessing he is preserving his vocal chords from the constant touring), his guitar playing was pure brilliance. He played ninety solid minutes, non-stop, except to let his sister Bobbie play one song on piano. Willie still stayed on stage during her song, and gently strummed his guitar after getting a sip of water. He switched out his bandannas throughout the show and threw the sweaty ones into the audience. I was just two rows back from catching a bandanna and a fan’s hat that Willie wore during one song near the end. He played his classics: “Georgia”, “Crazy”, “On The Road Again”, a Hank song, “Of All The Girls…”, “Angel Falling Too Close to the Ground”, and a few newer ones—a funny one about not being Superman anymore, and his latest “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”. He finished the night with some gospel numbers and brought The Wild Feathers back along with his daughter to round out the chorus.
Throughout the night, he pointed and smiled directly at people in the audience, blew a kiss (my way, but I think it was meant for the girl in front of me recording a song on her phone), waved, pointed to the sky, and just connected with us. The man still has it. I’m afraid if he ever stops touring, he’ll die. Keep touring, Willie! What a night. Gene Stout, Seattle Times music journalist, had nothing but love to share about Willie: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/soundposts/2013/08/24/willie-nelson-still-showing-brilliance-late-in-career/
BUT, the night was still young. Pat wanted to leave a little early to beat the horrendous traffic out of the Marymoor parking lot, but I insisted we stay to the very end. Who knows if I’d see Willie again, and I wanted to remember him walking off the stage for the last time.
Well, I felt badly when we finally found the car and had to sit there parked for almost a half hour before people finally started moving out toward the road. What a mess. There are only two exits out, so the cars just pile up. I apologized profusely to P, who absolutely hates sitting in traffic, especially since we wanted to try to make The Gourds show at The Tractor.
Once we got on the road, though, the traffic cleared out. We made it across the bridge and to Ballard in less than ½ hour. It was now about 10:45, and I knew The Gourds were on stage. We found easy parking and quickly walked to the Tractor, after changing from flip-flops to cowboy boots and putting on my new Willie “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” T-shirt. I threw my arms up in triumph when we reached the ticket table and The Gourds were playing their hearts out on stage. We did it! Two shows in one night!! Pat quickly withdrew some more cash while I told our story to the ticket guy who was very impressed that we got to see Willie and THEN came to The Gourds show. I felt more accomplished than after finishing a triathlon, I swear! The triathlon of music! Three shows in two days! The Holy Trinity of Roots Rock, Country, and Americana!
We tried to move to our little table next to the stage, but alas, it was taken. We got the evil eye from a girl (my double for the evening) when I tried to stay grounded near the table. We gave up and worked our way to the other side of the stage by the brick wall. They added a new sturdy bench along the wall, so we were able to stand on that and look over the crowd. No one complained, so we stayed put. We had a great view of the whole band, but my camera just could not capture the view that far away. Blurry. The flash did not reach that far, either. That was ok, I just decided to enjoy the music.
Mr. Kevin Russell and Mr. Jimmy Smith played lots of covers and new stuff from their latest album, Old Mad Joy, but also played their greatest hits, including “Mr. Betty”, “Ants on The Melon”, “Shake the Chandelier”, “Burn the Honeysuckle” and finished the night with “Gin and Juice” on crazy mandolin while Max made the rosin fly off his fiddle. Their accordion player Claude played a few, too, including lead vocals and keys for “Werewolves of London” during the encore. Every Gourds show is a frenzied, religious experience. Even though we couldn’t be up front with the sweat and glory, we still felt those musical electrons flow through us.
After the show we got to meet the drummer Keith for the first time. Keith was very nice and personable. I told him they sounded fantastic, but he said they were sloppy. Of course, that’s what I like about them. They’re REAL. They’re only sloppy because they are so caught up in the moment, improvising, picking, shouting, gyrating, and spilling their souls all over that stage. Minimally processed. All Natural. Organic. Their latest album is entitled Old Mad Joy and their music is exactly that. Keith also told us about opening a couple of times for Willie Nelson, and how Willie told him a story of Paul and a drumming incident. Keith already knew the story, but he felt honored to hear it from Willie himself. We then briefly spoke with Kevin while P took a pic. Kev’s such a sweetheart, although the pic of us scared my mom. They have a busy touring schedule ahead of them. They were headed to Oregon the next day for a festival in Helix.
Here’s The Gourds setlist, reprinted from D Three Gourds’ FB Page:
01. Trampled by the Sun
02. I Want it so Bad
03. Mister Betty
04. Right in the Head
05. Jesus Christ with Signs Following
07. Honduras >
08. Ringing Dark & True
09. Shake the Chandelier
10. Illegal Oyster
11. County Orange
12. Everybody’s Missing the Sun (Nils Lofgren)
13. Ants on the Melon
14. I Like Drinking > Lady (Little River Band) > ILD
15. Grievin’ & Smokin’ > When the Saints Go Marching In (trad.) > If 6 was 9 (Jimi Hendrix) > I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink (Merle Haggard)
16. “Smoke a little dope, do a little laundry” (???) > LGO
17. Burn the Honeysuckle > Black Water (Doobie Bros)
18. Gin & Juice (Snoop/Dre) > Cupid (Sam Cooke) > Surrender (Cheap Trick) > Up on Cripple Creek (The Band)
19. All the Labor tease
20. Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon)
21. All the Labor > You ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Kevin Shinyribs Russell will be playing a solo show with Keith supporting on drums Sept. 5 for $10 at The Sunset, so we’re GOING. We’re taking the 6th off to recover. Check out the Shinyribs Bandcamp site here: http://shinyribs.bandcamp.com/ to listen to both albums and make a purchase or two. [Since this writing, we DID go to the Shinyribs show! I will blog about that show asap. Another fantastic night!]
After the show, we went to Hatties Hat next door. It was ten till one, and we begged for food. We quickly ordered the best BLT I’ve ever had, with buttered, toasted bread, fresh lettuce and tomato, thick-cut bacon and avocado. We scarfed it down with some water and headed home. In bed by 2:00.
Willie Nelson & Family
Puyallup Fair, Puyallup, WA
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Willie still has it. He played a sold-out show at the Puyallup Fair with a stripped-down band and new bobbed hairdo. I took my mom, who wasn’t quite sure if she and/or 77-year-old Willie would still be living by the time the concert arrived! I purchased the tickets (her 73rd birthday gift) back in March, so there was the possibility that one or both wouldn’t make it.
After a two-hour commute in rain, we made it to The Fair with an hour to spare. We got lucky with parking; I think the rain kept the crowd away. Mom held up pretty well as we slowly strolled to the Gold Gate. We were starving and grabbed grilled chicken sandwiches outside the grandstand. I’m not really sure it was chicken; there was absolutely no resemblance to chicken flesh. Looked more like pressed and grilled styrofoam. I took three bites, threw up a little in my mouth, and tossed it. Ugh. Fair food. You’d think with the promotion of the best cattle, hogs, chickens, fruit and vegetables, that you would actually receive food from the local farms that participate in the fair!! But I digress…
Our seats were in Section A, Row 4. Sounds great, but not really. We were pushed way over to the side, diagonal from the stage. We did have a view of all of the musicians, and were probably about 30 feet from Willie. We sat on the outside end of the aisle, which was convenient for us, because the seats were squished together. The poor man next to us was very tall, and he had to remove himself from the aisle every time someone needed out; so I would have to get out, too. Mom would turn sideways into the aisle, so at least she didn’t have to stand up and move every time.
By the time we got settled in our seats, we had about 15 minutes before the big show. On time. Although traffic was terrible, we still managed to plan ahead and get to our seats. On time. Apparently, many other people did not plan ahead, or didn’t bother getting to their seats until about 1/2 hour into the show. We spent that first half hour watching not Willie, but the tardy idiots trying to count seats to the middle, only to figure out they were in the wrong section to begin with. The security people were trying to help, but also became annoyingly in the way of our view.
Ok, enough bitching. On with the main reason we drove two hours, put up with tardy people, and sat in drizzle: Willie! The house lights went dim, the announcer/DJ from KMPS entered the stage to announce Willie Nelson and Family would be coming out in mere seconds.
Willie, his “little sister” Bobbie, a bass player, harmonica player, and snare drummer entered the stage. The sold-out audience cheered and hooted. I looked at Mom and said, “We made it! HE made it, too!” I felt relieved. Willie sported his new gray bob and a black cowboy hat, t-shirt and jeans. He had his trademark red, white and blue guitar strap and that little ol’ beat-to-shit guitar tuned and ready to play.
And play he did! One and a half hours, nonstop. Song after song he played with energy and style; a few words of greetings to the crowd, a short rest to tune up and get a drink while sister Bobbie banged away on the piano, and then on to the next tune. He didn’t talk to the audience very often, but he certainly interacted with them. He waved and nodded directly at them, recognized their carefully painted signs, and threw at least four bandanas into the audience, after sweating through each one! Willie sweat! Sweet!
I’m dying to see a setlist, but here are the songs I remember:
On The Road Again
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground (My absolute fave)
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys
Me and Bobby McGee
Always On My Mind
To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before
Good Hearted Woman
[Update: Here's a post from the Tacoma News Tribune by Ernest Jasmin]:
He also did a couple of Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings songs, some beautiful Gospel numbers, and a couple new songs: “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” and one he wrote after his doctor told him to “Shut up and go home!”
Willie mixed up some classic songs with different tempos, fancy guitar licks, and at times, lower vocals. The songs were always recognizable, and he never missed a beat. I believe some of the low notes were due to his not being able to hit those high, clear ones in the cool, moist air. We could see his breath in steamy puffs at times.
His guitar playing, at times very raw and honest, is so interesting to me. I love watching him move up the frets in “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” among others. Sometimes he plays the blues, other times it sounds very jazzy. Country jazz? I guess. I love it. I said this before: I think they should hang his guitar, strap, and braids (or locks of his bobbed hair) and bandanna in the Smithsonian.
Willie Nelson is an American Icon. And my mom rocks for hanging in there till the house lights went on. Willie’s lively performance and Mom’s multiple words of gratitude made for a very special night.
4th of July 2007 at the Gorge-Willie Nelson and Friends: The Old 97’s, Drive-By Truckers, Son Volt, Amos Lee
The next big gig was at the Gorge in George. Not only were we pumped because Willie Nelson was playing, but also because he was bringing along his “friends”, 4 other bands! And we were also going to go to the Oregon Coast after that!
We first drove to Wenatchee on the 3rd and spent the night with family. The kids had fun in the pool, and the dogs hung out together. The next morning, we left the boy and dog with Aunt and Uncle and drove through the desert over to the Gorge, about 45 minutes from Wenatchee. It was 98 degrees that day.
We found a pretty nice parking spot to camp, but the shuttle van had broken down. That meant hiking at least a half mile in the heat to get to the amphitheatre. Great. We decided to stay at the truck as long as possible. We set up a makeshift shelter with a rain fly from our tent. We brought lots of food and water, and just lay low for a while.
We thought we could probably hear the music once it started, but we were wrong! We were too far away. We missed Amos Lee completely, and only heard part of Drive-By Truckers. That was ok, though, because it was too hot to sit on those metal seats on black top. We stayed as cool as we could, and then finally made our way down to the seats around 4:00.
We fell in love with the Old 97’s. We downloaded some of their live music a few days before, and really liked their Texas rockabilly sound. They really delivered in the heat of the Gorge. Son Volt was ok, but not too exciting. Their music is kind of a downer. We couldn’t wait to see Willie Nelson. He’s truly an American icon.
Willie came on just as the sun was going down. Beautiful. Gray braids, red, white and blue guitar strap, old beat up acoustic guitar with a hole in it….Willie. I was in tears through many songs, including my favorite, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground. I later learned to play it on my own guitar: On the Road Again was a big hit. He played all his old favorites. At the end he played a song about finding a peaceful solution to the wars. It was touching.
We headed back to Wenatchee the next morning and picked up the boy. We headed down 97 to Cascade Locks, just West of Hood River. Stayed overnight, then trekked on to Newport and Seaside. We had a nice trip, but not much relaxation! Lots of driving. The beach was a cool 60 degrees, too. Quite a change from the 100 degree weather we were in the day before.
What a bizarre week. Two concerts, months apart, yet I purchased tickets for both within 24 hours. I am broke. Baby needed a new pair of shoes. Too bad, Baby. We’re going to Tom Petty in June at the Gorge. I’m taking my mom to see Willie Nelson in September at the Puyallup Fair. That is, if both Mom and Willie are still alive by then (sez Mom). We are also geared up to see North Twin tomorrow night for their swan song of a show. Very sad about that, but I believe Tony is starting a new project, so we will be there to support him in his next venture fer sure!
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