The Genesee Theater presents… Willie Nelson
Growing up, my mother used to listen to Nelson all the time. While she was never much into country music, for some reason Willie Nelson was her favorite. Thinking back how her and her friend would go down to the state fair to see Willie play makes me laugh, as now I cover bands and have my favorites I love to see. As a child, you rebel against your parent’s music but something about Willie always made me listen and seeing his movie, Honeysuckle Rose made me like him more. Over time, I moved on to other genre of music but never forgot.
When my mother passed away two years ago, I promised myself that I would one day see a Willie Nelson show since I never went before and was so glad I did. Opening the show was Sonia Leigh, who came out to warm up the crowd with her gritty vocals and down to earth charm. She and her band played for little over a half hour which included their hit song, My Name is Money. While the crowd was here to see Willie, Leigh gave a nice performance and is worth checking out. You can find all the latest news on Leigh at http://www.sonialeigh.com as well as at Summerfest on July 5th when she opens for the Zach Brown Band.
After a brief intermission, it was time for Willie Nelson to come out, as his band walked out with long-time band members, Paul English, Mickey Raphael, Billy English and Willie’s sister, Bobbie Nelson. When Willie walked out, the crowd exploded and the theater became more of a J
uke Joint with the fans shouting out to Willie and dancing in their chairs, playing songs like, Funny How Time Slips Away, Crazy, Whiskey River, Still is Still Moving to Me. When Beer for My Horses was played, the crowd sang along.
Playing his trademark guitar, “Trigger,” it’s amazing how beautiful this guitar sounds. Some of the top guitar players have guitars that are as famous as the players and played as if they are connected as one soul. Willie’s guitar playing is breathtaking even after having surgery a few years back when he played the Django Reinhardt cover Nuages, he made the guitar sing. The first half of the show, Willie did not talk much and let his music do the talking, showing off his still vocal prowess and so smooth, like age-old whiskey. The second half of the show they played, Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, On the Road, You Were Always on My Mind, Hey Good Lookin, and a touching version of Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, along with several more hits.
They closed out the night with Willie bringing out his beautiful daughter to sing with him, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, where Mickey killed it on the harmonica. Willie’s daughter seems shy onstage but slowly worked into the songs as they finished up with I’ll Fly Away, his new song Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, off his new album, Heroes, and ended with I Saw the Light. As the band kept playing, Willie came up front and shook everyone’s hands and signed autographs for a good 10 minutes before he walked off stage.
As I now reflect back on this show, I am glad I had a chance to see Willie Nelson and see what a great artist he is, as well as an American icon and Hero. The magic of music is the fact it can cross generation, gender and race and Willie Nelson has created this magic.
Review & Photos dedicated to Nancy Lizano