Dwight Yoakam and Robert Earl Keen play before Willie Nelson & Family Show Rained out in KC Saturday

June 19th, 2017

photo:  Susan Pfannmuller

by:  Bill Brownlee

A severe storm forced a dream triple bill of Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam and Robert Earl Keen at Starlight Theatre on Saturday to remain an elusive fantasy. The deluge that followed sets by Yoakam and Keen led to the cancellation of the country legend’s headlining appearance.

While many in the audience of almost 8,000 received a thorough soaking before Nelson’s portion of the concert was called off, the venue was almost full for appearances by Yoakam and Keen.

Yoakam still wears the skintight jeans and cowboy hat that turned heads when his debut release “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” topped the country albums chart in 1986, but the California-based artist was more committed to paying homage to his heroes than in assuming the role of a sex symbol. Yoakam has always been a dedicated revivalist — his first hit was a cover of the 1956 Johnny Horton song “Honky Tonk Man” — but Saturday’s outing was more like a tribute show than a showcase for his original material.

Supported his outstanding four-piece band, Yoakam opened with a muscular cover of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie.” He paid homage to Elvis Presley with his hit version of the 1961 single “Little Sister” and dedicated “Streets of Bakersfield” to the late country star Buck Owens.

Heartfelt renditions of four Merle Haggard songs formed the core of the 50-minute set. A gentle translation of “Silver Wings” elicited appreciative sighs while plaintive pedal steel guitar solos bolstered “”Swinging Doors” and “Mama Tried.” Yoakam spoke at length about “Okie From Muskogee” before playing the controversial song. Recalling that Haggard had told him the hit was intended to be “tongue in cheek,” Yoakam implied that the societal rifts that made the song resonate in 1969 are just as prevalent today.

An ongoing flurry of anxious activity on the fringes of the stage repeatedly distracted Yoakam. A cover of Nelson’s “Me and Paul” was cut short when Yoakam said that someone backstage was displeased with the selection. The misconstrued signals of a stagehand also contributed to a couple false starts.

Keen and his six-piece backing band spent an hour re-creating his beloved Texas roadhouse songs like “The Road Goes On Forever” and “Gringo Honeymoon” with the admirable efficiency of jukebox. The raggedness of Keen’s unvarnished bray was offset by stellar fiddle and mandolin accents. While the rainout of Nelson was disappointing, Keen’s fans took it stride. They know that the motto of Keen’s signature song applies to the career of the octogenarian country legend: “the road goes on forever and the party never ends.”

Dwight Yoakam set list: Little Queenie; Please, Please Baby; Little Sister; Streets of Bakersfield; Silver Wings; Swinging Doors; Mama Tried; Okie From Muskogee; Me and Paul; It Won’t Hurt; I’ll Be Gone; Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose; Honky Tonk Man; A Thousand Miles From Nowhere; Guitars, Cadillacs.

Robert Earl Keen set list: I’ll Go On Downtown; What I Really Mean; Feelin’ Good Again; Gringo Honeymoon; Shades of Gray; Ride; I Gotta Go; Dreadful Selfish Crime; I Know You Rider; I’m Comin’ Home; The Road Goes On Forever.

June 18th, 2017

Happy Father’s Day Willie Nelson

June 18th, 2017


June 18th, 2017

Farm Aid 2017 (Burgettstown, PA) (September 16, 2017)

June 18th, 2017


Pittsburgh area: Who’s ready for Farm Aid 2017? The annual food and music festival will take place at the KeyBank Pavilion this September with all-star headliners including John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, Sheryl Crow plus more!

Sep 16 | KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown, PA

Club Luck Presale tickets and Premium Packages went on sale Thursday, 6/15 at 10am ET! http://livemu.sc/2tmNhut

Not a Club Luck member? Join today at http://bit.ly/2f0TWG6 to get access to great tickets before the general public!  Premium Packages include a great seat for the show plus exclusive Willie Nelson merchandise!

#FarmAid2017 #Road2FarmAid

Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg, “My Medicine”

June 18th, 2017

“We’re all the same” — Willie Nelson

June 18th, 2017

Top Country Albums of 2017 (So Far) Willie Nelson: “God’s Problem Child”

June 18th, 2017


by: Jake Harris

It’s almost the end of June, which means we’re halfway through 2017. And as time continues apace, so does the release of country music records. There have been a lot of releases so far this year, but since we’re nearing 2017’s midpoint, it’s time to take stock of what country music has brought us.

I started this tradition last year, with a power ranking of the best country albums of the first six months of 2016, continuing the list at the end of the year with more conclusive thoughts.

This year, I started off with a list of the albums I was looking forward to the most in 2017. Most of the albums on that list are below. Some didn’t live up to the hype.

However, all of the albums below are proof that good country music does still exist. You’re just not likely to find it on the radio.

As with last year, keep in mind that this list isn’t conclusive and only includes albums I’ve actually listened to. If you think I missed anything, let me know here, through email at jharris@statesman.com, or on Twitter @jakeharris4.




#4. “God’s Problem Child,” Willie Nelson

Willie’s 84 years old, but that don’t mean s—. He can still play with the best of them, and his songwriting skills on display here are the best they’ve ever been.

“God’s Problem Child” finds him contemplating his own mortality, in ways both youthful (“Still Not Dead”) and wise (“Old Timer”). From start to finish, it’s fantastic.

Read our review: Willie Nelson’s new album proves how musically sharp he remains at 84

Favorite Song: “Still Not Dead” cribs Mark Twain’s quip about exaggerated rumors of demise and faces all of those Internet hoaxes about his age head-on.

(Read about all his top ten picks here.)


1. Little House On The Hill (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. Old Timer (Donnie Fritz / Lenny LeBlanc)
3. True Love (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
4. Delete And Fast Forward (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
5. A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid / Sam Hunter)
6. Your Memory Has A Mind Of Its Own (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
7. Butterfly (Sonny Throckmorton / Mark Sherrill)
8. Still Not Dead (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
9. God’s Problem Child (Jamey Johnson / Tony Joe White)
10. It Gets Easier (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
11. Lady Luck (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
12. I Made A Mistake (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
13. He Won’t Ever Be Gone (Gary Nicholson)


Willie Nelson & Family at Ravinia Festival (June 17, 2017)

June 18th, 2017


photo and story by Dan Garcia


Willie Nelson was on the road again last night, as the legendary country singer brought his band and family to the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL, just 20 miles north of Chicago. Supported by his son, Lukas Nelson as his band, Promise of the Real, the 84-year-old Nelson delivered a memorable performance to the packed crowd, bringing a bit of Texas to the Windy City.

Up first for the night was Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, who just finished a big performance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. With Lukas, growing up with Willie Nelson as his dad, and Promise of the Real who have toured with Lukas for years, as well as the amazing Neil Young, the opening performers were more than prepared to get the night started on a high note.

Jamming out to tracks like ‘Four Leter Word’, Find Yourself’, ‘Carolina’, Nelson’s hometown dedicated ‘Just Outside of Austin’ and more, Lukas Nelson gave the Ravinia crowd a half hour of great tunes. Highlights of Lukas Nelson’s set included his many guitar solos, as well as his performance of ‘(Forget About) Georgia’, Nelson’s ode to an ex-girlfriend. Lukas ended his set with a huge minute-long guitar solo to ‘Set Me Down on a Cloud’, with his hair flying every which direction and the crowd giving Willie’s kin a big standing ovation.

As crew finished preparing for the man of the night, the lights turned up in the pavilion and Willie came out to a great the crowd of thousands, who rose to their feet as Willie began his performance. Backed by his loyal band, as well as members of his family, including his (2-year older) “little sister Bonnie” and son Lukas who returned to the stage, Willie was in great company from start to finish. Nelson was also joined by one of his most loyal companions, his beat up Martin N-20 nylon-string acoustic guitar, “Trigger”. And while the guitar looks older than Willie himself, who proves that 84 is the new 50, it still can put on a great show.

Nelson kicked things off with his 1973 track, ‘Whisky River’, a fan favorite and Grammy-nominated classic perfectly tailored to begin a memorable performance. Following with his 1993 ‘Still Is Still Moving To Me’ and his 2002 Toby Keith collab ‘Beer For My Horses’, Nelson performed a number of hits from his entire catalog of tracks that cover over a half a decade.

One of the first big highlight’s of Nelson’s set included his and Lukas’ cover of ‘Texas Flood’, where Lukas took over the vocals and father and son closed out the song by trading guitar solos. Instantly Willie continued the momentum with the classic, ‘Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys’, but as Willie was rocking his cowboy hat in front of a huge flag from the Lone Star State, he encourages us to do as he says, and not as he does.

No Willie Nelson set would be complete without a couple entertaining dedications to Mary Jane, and tonight fans were treated to tracks like ‘It’s All Going To Pot’ and ‘Roll Me Up’, where Nelson lays out his desires to be smoked in a joint when he passes away.  And although Nelson is in his 80’s, touring the country keeps him young and he reminded the Ravinia crowd he’s still alive and kicking and won’t be “rolled up” anytime soon, with his track ‘Still Not Dead’, his 2017 response to the various death rumors that have surrounded his name.

From his Hank Williams cover, ‘Jambalaya on the Bayou’, his performance of ‘Georgia On My Mind’, to his encore of ‘Uncloudy Day’, Willie Nelson and company gave Highland Park a night that they will not soon forget.

Set List

Whisky River
Still Is Still Moving To Me
Beer For My Horses
Good Hearted Woman
Funny How Time Slips Away
Night Life
Texas Flood
Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
On The Road Again
Always On My Mind
Shoeshine Man
It’s All Going To Pot
Georgie On My Mind
Jambalaya on the Bayou
Roll Me Up
I’ll Fly Away
I Saw The Light
Still Not Dead
Uncloudy Day

Willie Nelson fan’s dying wish: to see Willie Nelson

June 18th, 2017

LAKELAND, Fla. – MooMoo, the Lakeland grandma, has one last wish as she battles brain cancer — to see Willie Nelson.
Shirley Kidd, was looking forward to her chance to see the country singer legend at the Florida Strawberry Festival in March, but she was hospitalized for a severe tumor in her brain.

“That would have been so much fun,” she chuckled.

The Lakeland grandmother has seen the country singer on a couple of occasions, and can even recall the time she stood in a line of fans to have him autograph a case for her gun.

“He probably wouldn’t even remember,” said Kidd.

But her grandson, Lucas Styron, is trying to get everyone to share his social media posts to get a message to Nelson himself.

Kidd was diagnosed with brain cancer a week before Christmas and would spend the holiday, New Years and many others day at the hospital.
Styron says they are trying to cross off as many of her wishes as possible, but the biggest one is coming face to face with Nelson again.
“I would give anything to make this happen,” he said.

The two, sat in their Lakeland home during the interview hand-in-hand while they sang to Nelson’s rendition of Amazing Grace.

“I wonder if people even really realize what he just said,” talking about the words to the song.

The family knows they may not get an in person visit — so they’re hoping for some sort of connection, even if it’s just a cowgirl hat.
“I wouldn’t mind a hat with his name on it,” said Kidd.

The Lakeland family gets closer by the day, and most of those times include Nelson’s tunes serenading in the background.

Doctors originally gave MooMoo 18 months to live, however, the tumor has grown in size.

Willie Nelson & Family on Tour

June 18th, 2017

photo:  Larry Lazlo
Willie Nelson in Denver, 1982

July 1
Outlaw Music Festival [CANCELLED]
Shrine on Airline
Metairie, LA

July 2
Outlaw Music Festival
Starplex Pavilion
Dallas, TX

July 4
Fourth of July Picnic
Austin 360 Amphitheater
Austin, TX

July 6
Outlaw Music Festival
Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion
Rogers, AR

July 8
Outlaw Music Festival
Joe Lewis Arena
Detroit, MI

July 9
Outlaw Music Festival
Milwaukee, WI

July 11
Rose Music Center at the Heights
Huber Heights, OH

July 12
PNC Pavilion
Cincinatti, OH

July 14
Cary’s Booth Amphitheater
Cary, NC

July 15
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Jackson Browne, Father John Misty
Columbia, MD

July 16
Outlaw Music Festival
Syracuse, NY
Lakeview Amphitheater

Aug 4
Big Valley Jamboree
Camrose, AB

Aug 6
Rocking River Music Fest
Merritt, BC

Aug 8
Northern Quest Resort and Casino
with Kacey Musgraves
Airway Heights, WA

Aug 9
Marymoor Park Concerts
with Kacey Musgraves
Redmond, WA

Aug 11
with Kacey Musgraves
Troutdale, OR

Aug 13
USANA Ampitheater
with Kacey Musgraves
Salt Lake City, UT

Aug 15
The Mountain Winery
With Kacey Musgraves
Saratoga, CA

Aug 17
The Shrine
with Kacey Musgraves
Los Angeles, CA

Aug 18
Ironstone Arena
with Kacey Musgraves
Murphys, CA

Aug 19
Greek Theater
with Kacey Musgraves
Berkeley, CA

Sept 8
Outlaw Music Festival
PNC Bank Arts Center
with Sheryl Crow, The Avett Brothers, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Particle Kid

Sept 9
Outlaw Music Festival
Jones Beach Theater
ith the Avett Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Margo Price, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Particle Kid
Wantagh, NY

Sept 10
Outlaw Music Festival
Hershey Park Stadium
Hershey, PA

Sept 12
Sands Bethlehem Event Center
Bethlehem, PA

Sept 15
Outlaw Music Festival
Blossom Music Center
with The Avett Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Blackberry Smoke, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Particle Kid
Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Sept 16
Farm Aid
Key Bank Pavillion
Burgettstown, PA

Sept 17
Outlaw Music Festival
BB&T Pavilion
with Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Particle Kid
Camden, NJ

Oct 14
Chastain Park
Atlanta, GA


Willie Nelson & Family at Ravania, in Highland Park, IL last night

June 17th, 2017

Thanks so much to Willie Nelson fan and music lover Paul Martell, for sharing pictures from the WN&F show at Ravinia, in Highland Park, Illinois last night. Paul is one of those many fans (Janis Tillerson and everyone you know who you are), who share their photos from shows they go to. All us fans who weren’t there appreciate when someone takes pictures, then goes home and uploads them and sends them to me to share.


I just wanted to share a few pictures and a quick note about Willie’s and Lukas’s performances at Ravinia in Highland Park Illinois last night. This was my 46th concert following Willie and I am looking forward to #47 – July 9th at the Outlaw Festival in Milwaukee at the Summerfest grounds.

Lukas and the Promise of the Real opened up with a very energetic set. Some new songs from last I had heard from him as well as a few new members. A keyboard and the steel guitar. Really set the stage for dad.

Willie’s show was great as well. He was highly energized from start to finish and looked very healthy, happy and on top of his game. With the usual tossing of bandanas into the crowd during and after the show, making many fans ecstatic. But to top it off, one lucky fan received his hat, as at the end of the show as he was to walk off stage, he grabbed his hat, held it out and threw it into the center seats. Someone in row 4 or 5 went home flying high. Above the rest of us.

Great show.


Willie Nelson

June 17th, 2017


Willie Nelson & Family, “Still is Still Moving to Me” (Farm Aid 2014)

June 17th, 2017

Willie Nelson & Family in Kansas City, MO (June 17, 2017)

June 17th, 2017


Willie Nelson & Family
with special guests Dwight Yoakam and Robert Earl Keen
Saturday, June 17
Starlight Theater
Kansas City, MO