Willie Nelson, New Year’s Eve, Austin (2012)

photo:  Amy Price

 by: Amy Price

Seeing Willie perform is akin to one of those commercials where a woman eating a delicious meal finds a diamond necklace in her fruit cup: you always get something special and unique in one of his shows. Willie Nelson and Friends did not disappoint in the first of a two performance run at ACL Live on December 30 with opening acts The Dirty River Boys, Paula Nelson and The Mavericks.

Willie strode onto stage wearing an “Alice in Hulaland Trip Burnout” t-shirt, and starting with “Whiskey River” took the family band through his routine of solid crowd-pleasing songs for the next several hours. At one point, John Stamos (who was last seen onstage in Austin playing with The Beach Boys at The Backyard) stepped in to flex his percussion muscles with Billy English. The regulars in the audience, some who have seen over a thousand Willie Nelson performances, loved it all, standing up for their favorites and clapping and whistling loudly at all of the appropriate moments. And why not? This place is dedicated to Willie, with a statue of the man at the front entrance.

The Mavericks
proved that even after a multi-year hiatus, they still have the moves and the music. Raul Malo’s golden voice soared on the band’s standards, and the song “All You Want to Do Is Bring Me Down” had the audience up and dancing in the aisles, even in the packed upper balcony.

See more of Amy Prices’s photographs from the NYE concert here.

Bobbie Nelson
photo:  Amy Price

Mickey Raphael
photo:  Amy Price

Willie Nelson, Billy English
photo:  Amy Price



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