Willie Nelson, Outlaw Music Festival, Little Rock, Arkansas (June 29, 2018)

Great photos by Brian Chilson from the Outlaw Music Festival last night in Little Rock.


Onstage with Willie was, of course, his sister and longtime collaborator Bobbie Nelson, as were Willie’s sons Lukas and Micah, both of whom had performed sets earlier in the evening. In fact, Willie stepped aside to showcase Lukas’ potent, sultry wail and wildly expressive guitar tone on “Texas Flood,” just in case anybody was wondering how far exactly that apple fell from the red-headed tree.

Highlights included: the way Mickey Raphael’s harmonica wafted in and out like an accordion in some French cafe, a Tom T. Hall tune for good measure, the moments when Willie went mondo surf guitar with his tone and the beautiful delivery of “Always On My Mind” — a rare moment when the octogenarian’s vocal reticence lifted and Willie’s inimitable voice bloomed.

Most transcendent of the entire evening, a poignantly timely rendition of Nelson’s 1986 release “Living in the Promiseland,” sung as a trio with Willie and his two sons.

“Give us your tired and weak
And we will make them strong
Bring us your foreign songs
And we will sing along

Leave us your broken dreams
We’ll give them time to mend
There’s still a lot of love
Living in the Promiseland

Living in the Promiseland
Our dreams are made of steel
The prayer of every man
Is to know how freedom feels

There is a winding road
Across the shifting sand
And room for everyone
Living in the Promiseland

So they came from a distant isle
Nameless woman
Faithless child like a bad dream
Until there was no room at all
No place to run, and no place to fall

Give us our daily bread
We have no shoes to wear
No place to call our home
Only this cross to bear

We are the multitudes
Lend us a helping hand
Is there no love anymore?
Living in the Promiseland.”

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