Aplscruf's Music Blog

Willie Nelson at the Puyallup Fair Sept. 16, 2010

Willie Nelson & Family

Willie Nelson 9.16.10

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 and Sister Bobbie on piano

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!

Throwing Headband

I’m dying to see a setlist, but here are the songs I remember:

Whiskey River

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]:

Willie Nelson review and set list.

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.

Willie's Bus

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Concert Season 2010, Music, The Puyallup Fair, Willie Nelson | , , , , | 1 Comment