Willie Nelson and Family

by Steven Skelley

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday February 2, 2013

Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson  (Source:David McClister)

The Willie Nelson and Family concert tour is exactly what you would expect from one of popular music's iconic artists -- hit after hit that had the audience singing along like old friends around a campfire.

With 10 Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, nine CMA Awards and more than 40 million albums sold in the U.S.A., there is no doubt that Willie Nelson brings a tremendous talent and decades of musical insight to the stage. What is surprising is how, at age 79, he can still put on a show that rivals any of the current crop of young guns in the music business today.

When he took the stage at the King Center, Willie looked frail and pale from the flu battle that has caused the cancellation of his previous concert a day before but he hit every note in every song in a pitch-perfect demonstration that younger artists would be wise to emulate.

In addition to a seven piece band that included his son Lukas, Willie's sister Bobbie Lee accompanied Willie on piano.

Whenever Willie appeared to need a rest, he called on Bobbie to lead an instrumental piece while Willie sipped from a plastic cup that had been placed near his guitar amp.

Willie and his son Lukas joined forces for a bluesy duet of "It's floodin' down in Texas" complete with dueling lead guitar solos.

Willie's son Lukas Nelson wowed the crowd with his own set of songs including a rocking, electric guitar rendition of Neil Young's "Homegrown" that had the audience cheering and laughing at the ongoing joke about the Nelson family's world famous appreciation for marijuana usage and decriminalization.

Lukas has his daddy's voice and rock star good looks. As Lukas played and sang in a voice reminiscent of a young Willie, I overheard a college-age young lady beside me tell her friend, "He is gorgeous! I want to have his baby!"

Willie and Lukas joined forces for a bluesy duet of "It's Floodin' Down in Texas" complete with dueling lead guitar solos. There was a fair amount of improvisation from both performers who were obviously feeling the blues vibe of the tune. The song was one of my concert highlights.

For those audience members who love Willie's music and sang along word for word, he effortlessly segued from one famous hit to the next. He sang "Crazy," "Beer for My Horses," "Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," "On the Road Again," "Always on My Mind," and for country fans hoping for a trip down memory lane -- a Hank Williams medley launched with "Hey, Good Lookin'."

Willie Nelson may be a country music icon but his music embraces a variety of styles. He has a unique and inimitable way of melding the diverse nuances of country, jazz, folk, rock and blues music into a surprisingly engaging fusion that shouldn't work but does. It not only works, it is incredible!

For more information about the Willie Nelson and Family 2013 tour, visit http://willienelson.com/story/willie-nelson-and-family-old-farts-and-jackass-tour-2013.

Willie Nelson and Family appeared on Feb. 1 at the King Center for the Performing Arts at Brevard Community College, 3865 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL 32935. For upcoming King Center performance info or tickets, call 321-242-2219 or visit http://www.kingcenter.com.

Steven Skelley is a published author of several nonfiction works and the novella The Gargoyle Scrolls. He has been a newspaper columnist, travel writer, news writer, music director, creative arts director, theater reviewer and tennis instructor.