Archive for the ‘Country Throwdown’ Category

Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour (6/25/2011)

Monday, June 27th, 2011

lana sandiego

photo: Lana Nelson
by Dan Armonaitis

With a large Texas flag draped on a wall behind him, Willie Nelson trotted on stage to thunderous applause and cheers from thousands of enthusiastic fans, most of whom had enjoyed the rest of the performers but were clearly there to see the most legendary member of the bunch.

It would be a shocking revelation if the 78-year-old cultural icon left any of them disappointed.

The concert was billed as Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown, and its main draw provided just that.

From the opening strains of “Whiskey River,” which started his hour-long set, Nelson had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Throughout the night, he smiled, nodded and made a lot of eye-contact with those closest to the stage.

Once a while, he said a few words between songs. Mostly, though, Nelson just sang and picked on his trademark acoustic guitar that he calls Trigger.

The sounds weren’t just country; there were elements of everything from jazz and blues to rock and folk in his playing.

Nelson filled the set such classics as “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy,” “On the Road Again” and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” along with more recent favorites such as “Beer For My Horses” and “Superman.”

Nelson’s backing band — or the Family, as he calls them — provided perfect accompaniment with longtime member Mickey Raphael driving many of the songs with his distinctive harmonica licks. Veteran drummer Paul English, whom Nelson immortalized in his song “Me and Paul” (which he performed Friday), suffered a stroke last year and was on stage for only part of the show.

Nelson gave his actual sister Bobbie a chance to shine with a piano-driven instrumental take on “Down Yonder,” and his son Lukas, on electric guitar, provided lead vocals on a blues tune called “Texas Flood.”

Before bursting into “Good Hearted Woman,” Nelson acknowledged the late Waylon Jennings. “Let’s do one for Waylon,” he said, referring to his singing partner for the hit 1970s recording.

Later, it was, “How about some Hank Williams?” — a question answered with cheers from the approving audience. Nelson then delivered hi-octane renditions of “Jambalaya,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Move it On Over.”

The Williams trilogy was followed by the gospel standards, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away,” with the crowd joyfully singing along.

Other highlights included the psychedelic-tinged “Still is Still Moving to Me,” the hauntingly beautiful “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and pensively romantic “Always on My Mind.”

Nelson also gave a rousing blues-based rendition of Tom T. Hall’s “Shoeshine Man” early in the set, and he closed the concert with his own “Bloody Mary Morning”

Before making his exit, Nelson walked along the edge of the stage and quickly shook hands with some his adoring fans and signed a few autographs. The band reprised “I’ll Fly Away” as an instrumental sendoff.

Earlier, modern country outlaw Jamey Johnson gave a sparkling performance that showcased his ability to blend rock influences into his music without sacrificing its traditional honky-tonk roots.

Starting with his Grammy-nominated “High Cost of Living” and concluding with his Grammy-winning “In Color,” Johnson eased his way through a fantastic hour-long set that channeled Nelson, Jennings, Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck.

The bearded former Marine showed his tender side with delightful covers of such ballads as “I Love You So Much It Hurts” by Floyd Tillman and “Raining in My Heart”(best known for Buddy Holly’s orchestral version), but the audience seemed to connect better to his more rousing material.

The crowd responded very favorably to Johnson’s duet with South Carolina native Lee Brice, who performed earlier. Johnson and Brice sang Haggard’s “Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver),” overcoming a couple of lyrical mix-ups with sheer emotion.

Randy Houser and Brice performed on the main stage, kicking the festivities into high gear with turbo-charged sets that were as much electric guitar-driven Southern rock as they were country. Houser covered Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” and Brice — accompanied by side stage performer Craig Campbell — covered Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition.”

Along with Campbell, the side stage featured performances by Brantley Gilbert, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of Real and Drake White.

The Bluebird Café stage, meanwhile, emphasized acoustic singer-songwriters and included Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Dani Flowers, Adam Hood, Erin Enderlin and Caitlyn Smith — all of whom had the opportunity to play a song on the main stage.

Willie Nelson @ Red Rocks (6/21/2011)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011


photo: Janis Tillerson

Mickey Raphael with friends and fans, at Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado (6/21/2011)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011


Mickey Raphael sat out in the audience for Randy Houser and Jamie Johnson’s set at the Country Throwdown show at Red Rocks last week.

Willie Nelson and Bobbie Nelson, Country Throwdown Tour, San Diego (6/23/2011)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Photo: Lana Nelson

For information on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour, visit

Willie Nelson, Anthony LoGerfo, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colorado (6/21/2011)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011


photo: Janis Tillerson

Saturday, June 25th, 2011


Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour in Pozo, CA (6/25/2011)

Saturday, June 25th, 2011
by:  Karlee Prazak

In what appears to be the largest one day musical event San Luis Obispo County has ever experienced, Willie Nelson’s Country Showdown, featuring 16 artists playing full sets on three stages, will rock the Pozo Saloon on Saturday.

Performing at the Pozo Saloon is somewhat of a rite of passage in the country music world with singers such as Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Shooter Jennings and the Charlie Daniels Band having played there.

Concert-goers can hope to hear some of Nelson’s more famous songs, such as “On the Road Again,” “Always on my Mind” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” And possibly even a father-son duet between Nelson and his 22-year-old son Lukas, who will be performing with his band Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real.

Even if the venue can’t guarantee cell phone service at its remote location past Santa Margarita Lake off Highway 101, it can guarantee a great show. This is exactly what concert-goers can expect as Pozo Saloon kicks off the season as a stop for the 2011 Willie Nelson Country Throwdown Tour on Saturday, June 25.

Pozo Saloon is the perfect venue to get away from the daily grind with friends and family and out into the countryside for the day. Concert attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or low-back chair for the general admission lawn seating. But do to its remote location, Pozo Saloon recommends visiting the website for directions and avoiding any Internet-generated directions.

A ticket to the Country Throwdown is an all day pass to three stages of music, dancing and shopping.

The lowdown on the Throwdown:

On the main stage starting at 5:25 p.m., Lee Brice will perform followed by Randy Houser, Singer-Songwriter Group, Jamey Johnson and at 9:15 p.m. Willie Nelson.

Drake White will open the side stage at 3 p.m. followed by Lukas Nelson & The Promise of Real, Craig Campbell, and Brantley.

The concert is slated to start at about 2:30 p.m. with Austin Lucas performing on the Bluebird Café stage followed by Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Dani Flowers, Adam Hood, Erin Enderlin and Caitlyn Smith.

Gary Bang Harley Davidson is sponsoring a military ride from its store in Atascadero to the Pozo Saloon where active and veteran military personnel along with a guest will ride alongside artists such as Randy Houser through the scenic countryside to the Pozo Saloon. Upon arrival, they will be escorted into the Harley Davidson Golden Horse Saloon for a special pre-show meet and greet before receiving free admission to the Willie Nelson’s Country Showdown.

Tickets are $39 for general admission seating or $59 up-front pit seating and can be purchased online at or at a Pozo Saloon outlet. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real at Red Rocks (6/21/2011)

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real are touring with Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour.


Tato Melgar, percussion

This guy works hard.

Amy Nelson, and a accordian player joined the band for a few songs.

Anthony Logerfo, on drums. 

His dad Tony was at the Red Rocks show, and it was his birthday!   The proud papa took lots of pics and videos of the band.


Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour in Nashville (6/3/11)

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Thanks so much to Monique, from the Hague, for sharing her photos from the Country Throwdown Tour in Nashville earlier this month.

Jamie Johnson and Lukas Nelson, Red Rocks (6/21/11)

Friday, June 24th, 2011


Janis from Texas took this picture of Jamie Johnson and Lukas Nelson at the Willie Nelson Country Throwdown show on Tuesday. Thanks, Janis!

Willie Nelson and Paul English, Red Rocks (6/21/11)

Friday, June 24th, 2011


Thanks to Janis from Texas for her photos from Red Rocks!




Seven Degrees of Willie Nelson

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011


This was the centerfold for the Official Program for Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown tour. Sorry, I had to post this sideways or it was too small to see. Now it’s too hard to see and it’s too small, too.

Willie Nelson Rocks Red Rocks, again (6/21/2011)

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

(I took this one.)

This was the best Willie Nelson & Family show at Red Rocks ever. Do I say that every year? There is something timeless about seeing Willie Nelson at Red Rocks. There’s always that moment when Willie is in the middle of a song, he arches his back and grins at a fan up in the stands, the wind is blowing his hair. Priceless; you could be at any Willie Nelson and Family Shows Willie over the decades they have played Red Rocks. Sister Bobbie on piano, Paul and Billy English on drums, Bee Spears on bass, Mickey Raphael on harmonicas. And there’s Willie Nelson playing great music and making his fans happy again. Timeless.

Red Rocks is a one of a kind natural amphitheater, just at the edge of the mountains west of Denver. It is formed naturally, by two giant rocks that were shoved out of the earth a long, long time ago. Indians used it for their rituals and special occasions, and then in early 1900’s, artists started performing there. The City of Denver wisely purchased the park and have upgraded it, and made some simple improvements. They show movies there on nights when there are no concerts, High School graduations are are held there and on Easter, they have an unforgettable sunrise service. It is a great place to hear any concert in the summer, and when Willie Nelson plays there, it is pure magic.

Willie Nelson Red Rocks
photo: Daniel Petty. (See all his photos at Denver Post.)

When Willie walked on stage, he greeted us with, “It’s nice to be back!” and the crowd went wild. Colorado loves Willie Nelson and he gives that love right back to us. Maybe because he lived here for a little while, or because he has played Red Rocks so many times, we claim Willie Nelson as our own, too, a little bit ours, even though he’s got the Texas ranch and the Hawaii home, the LA apartment, and his tour bus, where he spends most of his time. But everyone everywhere claims him as their own, and he is. I just know summer wouldn’t be summer without without getting to see Willie Nelson and Family at Red Rocks.

I loved that everyone stood for Willie’s entire set, because we love Willie, out of respect, because we had to dance. He was there for one hour, and no one wanted to miss one minute of that most enjoyable hour ever. The amphitheater, is a comfortable place to see shows; the floor and seats are made of stone, and the aisles are wide, with lots of room for dancing, and people do dance. It is a challenge to get up and down those stairs, but worth the climb, every time.


I met up with Janis from Texas and Lane and Kattrina, from Arizona, new friend Shelly, from Hawaii, and Ruthie from Scooterville sat with us for a while, too. Martha English joined us out front, along with Promise of the Real band and family members who sat with us after their band had performed. Mickey Raphael and Brenda sat with us, too, for Randy Houser, and Jamey Johnson’s set, too. Mickey created a stir when he walked out, fans wanting autographs, pictures, and to shake his hand. One fan came up to Mickey and said, “What are you doing out here? Shouldn’t you be getting ready back there?” Mickey said, “I am ready.” It was cute when Randy Houser tried to toss Mickey a guitar pick after his set, but another fan got it.

My favorite Denver Nuggets player ended up sitting with us, too , somehow, when Willie came on. The Birdman created a stir, even though his hair was not done up, he was recognized. I usually see Colorado’s own baseball hall-of-famer Goose Gossage there, he’s such a big Willie Nelson fan, but he might have been up on the side of the stage watching from there.

We had so much fun. We were there all day, sitting in the park or sitting downstairs, wandering around watching the crews set up, enjoying all the music. Willie came on at about 9:55 and played for an hour, but the music started at 4 in the afternoon with the other bands in the Throw Down tour. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm. Night was beautiful, perfect summer night in the mountains. We needed our jackets at night, but barely.


The Security Guard in front of us told Janis and I that we couldn’t use our big cameras. I got to take a few for the first couple of songs, because the Throwdown People kindly gave me a photo pass. I’ve never seen a security guard that was immune to Janis and her drawl, her Texas drawl, but the guy in front of us kept his eye on us, and we didn’t use them; why risk being kicked out of a WN&F show? Janis had a small camera, and I’m looking forward to seeing her photos as soon as she gets back to Texas and settled in. I just sat and enjoyed the show.

I took this one.

Lane and Katrina, with the bright lights of Denver, shining like diamonds, like 10,000 jewels in the sky

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011


And it’s nobody’s business where you’re going or where you come from, and you’re judged by the look in your eye. Wait, I’m getting carried away with that song.

I this picture of Lane and Katrina after the Willie Nelson Country Throwdown show at Red Rocks last night. Willie’s bus had just pulled out.

I don’t think Lane and Katrina needed their rental car after the show; they just floated down the mountain on all the good vibes. So fun to see you two, and Janis, for a show, and look forward to the next one down the line.

Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson, at the Red Rocks Country Throwdown Tour

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011


Willie and Lukas are so enjoyable to watch play together. They sound so good, and they are really enjoying playing together. Lukas sat in for the entire Willie Nelson and Family set, and members of The Promise of the Real joined in on different songs.  Amy Nelson came out for the gospel set at the end, as did Jamie Johnson, Austin Lucas, and others for the finale. It was fun.

See the Throwdown Show if you can.  For more information, visit
It’s a great way to spend a day.