Saturday, January 30, 2010

We Finally Saw Willie Nelson

What forces conspire against a band and its fans?

Some of you who know me know that I wanted to see Willie. Got cursed once, and we drove all the way from Chicago to Ft. Wayne, Indiana with sweet tickets in hand, only to find the show was canceled.

Well, we got to see Willie in Rome, Georgia last night at The Forum!
Bad weather ,Willie's hand, and the law threatened to continue the curse, but our luck was all good. They canceled the show before ours, but they made it to Rome and played.
We drove through the rain. The bleacher seats we found to be inhumane:

The tickets I bought said "Bleacher Section," but I didn't realize they were literally bleacher seats, the kind you can collapse into the wall. These seats would only be comfortable for elementary school students, but here they were selling them to Willie's older, larger fans. You can't even sit straight in the seat without your knees pressing into the person's back in front of you. And it was like something out of a movie, the guy in front of us was a 300-pound biker type with a Harley Davidson t-shirt and a long braid. Didn't seem like a good idea to knee him in the back!

So we retreated to the nosebleeds, where we could max and relax in the relative luxury of the bucket seats, shoes off.

Willie Nelson sounded great. He can still sing and play clear as a bell, even coming out of a cold January rain.

The band was small, no full drum set, only a snare with brushes. Willie's vocal phrasing was like a snake in a bag. The backup band had to duck or jump a few times to catch a verse. He sang all the hits, including "Me and Paul," one of my favorite songs. We enjoyed a moment during his beautiful rendition of "You Were Always On My Mind," and for that moment it felt as if the circle would be unbroken, by and by.

A review of the forces that conspired to spook the horses:

The hand:
Lucas Nelson (Willie's son) opened the show. He was sort of like Young Willie mixed with Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was actually pretty damn good.

On the day of the show, the Rome News-Tribune "printed" an article entitled, "Forum manager: Despite band's legal trouble, Willie Nelson show still on." The Rome News-Tribune points us to the Jacksonville News site, reporting that on Thursday, January 28, members of Willie's tour band were busted in Jacksonville, North Carolina for moonshine and marijuana.

On the day of the show, following these news reports about the band bust, Lucas Nelson posted a message on that focused instead on Willie's hand:
"We have just cancelled tonight’s performance in Kenansville, NC. Dad’s hand ( the one he had the carpel tunnel operation on) was in pain, too much to play his guitar Trigger. Doctors say to just give it a rest. He is going to try and finish the tour ( tomorrow night Rome, Georgia and then Asheville, NC) before taking it on home to Texas for ten days."

I will tell you that they made it to the stage in Rome! Both Lucas and Willie's hands were in sterling shape as they rang out notes to the rafters. Fate smiled.

The law:
Here is the bust according to the Jacksonville News:
"N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement agents from Wilmington confiscated moonshine and small amounts of marijuana from members of the band who were in a van outside the events center. Band members were cited with a misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession, said District Attorney Dewey Hudson, who was at the concert."

At the merchandise table in Rome, bandanas were $15 and t-shirts were $35. One t-shirt featured a large marijuana leaf and the insignia "WILLIE NELSON: FIRST AID".

The bad weather: Rome News-Tribune reported warnings: "Rome and Floyd County public safety officials and road crews were watching the skies nervously late Friday night as a winter weather system was making its way across the state."

They were watching the skies nervously.

As soon as they said that I pictured an old line drawing of some Nervous Norvus type with shake-lines radiating off of his shoulders. I wonder how these public safety officials would feel about being called "nervous."

In any case, the worst of the Winter storm held off for all of Friday night, and we, Willie, and the many minions went our merry ways.


  1. you did it. finally. nice job. i'm glad you didn't lose your life (due to weather) or your marriage (due to bleacher seats)in dealing with getting to see Willie.