Willie Nelson celebrates his birthday making music with his family and friends at Stagecoach Festival (April 30, 2017)

Willie Nelson performs at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival on Saturday, April 29, 2017. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz.

by:  Vanessa Franko


Willie Nelson celebrated his 84th birthday surrounded by his musical family with a rollicking set at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio on Saturday, April 29.

The Palomino Tent was overflowing, even as Nelson took the stage about 20 minutes after he was scheduled.

However, just like clockwork, Nelson opened up his set with “Whiskey River” and played just more than an hour’s worth of classics and hits, including “On the Road Again,” “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Always on My Mind” and “Crazy.”

Nelson’s set also included “Hey Good Lookin’ ” and “Move It on Over.”

Neil Young showed up at the very end of Willie Nelson’s set on the Palomino Stage at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio on Saturday, April 29. (Vanessa Franko, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

He tours as Willie Nelson and Family and his sister Bobbie Nelson was on the piano and son Lukas Nelson, who recently played the Empire Polo Club with his band Promise of the Real backing up Neil Young at Desert Trip, played guitar.

By the end of the performance, most of the musicians who had played the Palomino Stage earlier in the day became part of Nelson’s extended musical family, including John Doe from X, Margo Price and Jamey Johnson.

It was a big sing-along for “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away” with the stars from earlier in the day.

After that ended, Nelson led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to himself. And then there was a little jam and Neil Young ended up on stage playing the harmonica. True story.

More stories, photos from Stagecoach 2017


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