by Erin Duvall
Willie Nelson and Ryan Bingham drew a packed house to their show under the stars at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre last week. Ryan led the no-frills set with selections from his latest release ‘Junky Star’ as well as his ‘Mescalito’ album and the ‘Crazy Heart’ soundtrack.
”I’ve been listening to Willie Nelson since before I could probably walk,” Ryan tells The Boot with a laugh. “Being on tour with him is something I never thought would be possible. Watching him play live from backstage every night is pretty cool.”
A few songs in, Ryan and his band, the Dead Horses, were joined by Willie’s band member Mickey Raphael, who played the harmonica for the rest of their set. “About the second show of the tour, we were hanging out with Mickey and playing around during soundcheck,” Ryan explains. “After that, he started joining us every night.”
While the Oscar-winning tune, ‘The Weary Kind,’ garnered much applause, it was ‘Southside of Heaven’ that really got the crowd cheering. Ryan followed it up by thanking them for “putting up with our sh– for a little bit.”
Willie kept things simple when he took the stage — a Texas flag hanging behind the band being the only visible decor. Joined by his sister Bobbie Lee Nelson, and sons Micah and Lukas, Willie gave each their share of the spotlight. Lukas, who performs regularly in L.A., even took center stage for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Texas Flood.’
The concert can best be described as an hour-and-a-half medley of all the songs fans have come to love from this icon. ‘Crazy’ led into ‘Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground,’ and was followed by ‘On The Road Again,’ and ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.” The 77-year-old singer-songwriter covered all his hits and even borrowed a few classics such as ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and ‘Hey, Good Lookin’.’
Fan interaction was definitely not lacking as they sang back the words to Toby Keith’s ‘Beer For My Horses’ and Willie’s own ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,’ and couples took to dancing in the aisles during ‘Always on My Mind.’ Willie got some laughs while performing the comedic ‘Superman,’ which he followed up by telling the audience, “Right after I wrote that song, I wrote this one.” Then he launched into the appropriately titled, ‘You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore.’
Several famous faces were spotted in the crowd, including actor Brian Baumgartner, better known as Kevin Malone from ‘The Office.’ Willie’s next show is Saturday, October 2 in Milwaukee, Wis. Get a full list of tour dates here. Ryan and the Dead Horses can be seen next in Dallas, Texas, on October 7.
And still another great photo from Lane. Thank you!