Oh, Willie! A look at last night’s Willie Nelson performance in Carmel

Commentary by Tom Killin

I bought my first tickets for a Willie Nelson concert more than 30 years ago.  Grandstand, State Fair.  Found our seats and settled back for an evening with Willie.

Fifteen minutes before the show an announcement was made that Willie was in the hospital in Hawaii with a collapsed lung and we were going to see Barbara Mandrell instead.  Strike 1.

A few years later I had front-row seats for Willie at the same venue.  My eldest daughter went to marine biology camp at Wallops Island, Va., and I had to go pick her up on the day of the concert.  Strike 2.

A few years ago, Willie had a show at The Vogue in Broad Ripple.  The day of the show, my youngest daughter was admitted to the hospital.  Strike 3.

Last year my son-in-law got tickets for us to see Willie at the Palladium.  I told him we would not see the show because I was jinxed.  Sure enough the show was cancelled.  Strike 4?

He got tickets again this year for the Willie concert in August.  And, yes, it got postponed.  I told him we would never see Willie.  Last night, September 15, 2014, it was “Strike 5” as I  “struck” an event off my bucket list.

At 7:30 p.m., the man, Willie Nelson, walked out on the stage at the Palladium.   What? No opening act?  I couldn’t believe it.  They started with Whiskey River and 10 minutes later, he and his amazing group of musicians, finally took time for Willie to wipe his brow.  We were treated to Crazy, Georgia, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Momma Don’t Let Your Boys Grow Up To Be Cowboys, Blue Eyes Cryin’ in The Rain, a cover of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” and many more numbers.

The old man still has it.  I was surprised that his guitar didn’t burst into flames. I’m talking hot licks! The pianist and harmonica player were also standouts. I think if you listened closely, their instruments actually were talking.  For me, the concert was way too short (a man can’t have too much Willie), but when you think about an 81-year-old man doing an hour and a half non-stop show, it was great!

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