Texas Hill Country News

Willie Nelson is ‘On the Road Again’

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Tony Maples Photography


Willie Nelson’s critically acclaimed music transcends political affiliation, economic class, genre, and spans generations. It is no surprise that the whole nation was watching when reports of recent health concerns and canceled shows rolled in. However, Nelson surprised the unknowing crowd attending Ray Benson’s Birthday Party at SXSW, March 14, 2017.

Every year, SXSW offers an assortment of surprise shows. Nelson as a surprise artist for SXSW was one of the best surprises of the festival, especially for loyal Willie fans. Willie’s fans rejoiced; he played several familiar songs. Nelson took the stage with his ever popular “Whiskey River” as his first song of the set. He also played “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

The man of the night, Roy Benson, joined Willie, onstage, for the cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho & Lefty.” In typical Willie fashion, he closed the surprise set with his beloved “On the Road Again.” Willie was not the only guest. Other notable artist appearances were Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, Sunny Sweeney, The Avett Brothers, and more.

Willie Nelson HoustonPhoto: Facebook/Willie Nelson

Fast forward a few days later, Nelson played a sold out concert at the titanic venue that is the Houston Rodeo. With swirling rumors he would cancel, the crowd roared when he walked onstage, welcoming him like the true American hero he is. Despite his age and in his retrospect of his musical career, Nelson has been a very busy musician, having more than 60 studio albums in addition to live recordings, soundtracks, collaborations with other artists and more.

Some of Nelson’s recent career highlights include his critically acclaimed album “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” taking home a Grammy for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album of the Year.” Also, Nelson is on the heels of releasing yet another album, “God’s Problem Child,” which is scheduled to be released the day before his 84th birthday, April 28th. You can pre-order the album here.

With Nelson’s recent health scare, fans appreciate that he has been present for these memorable moments and continues making and playing music. Especially with the passing of his dear friend Merle Haggard last year, whom Nelson previously toured with. In recent years, with these substantial losses to pioneering, elder statesmen of country music’s finest,  it is understandable to be sensitive to any health concerns and show cancellations. With Nelson’s 84th upcoming birthday we are grateful he seems to be hanging in there and continuing to do what he does best. Ever faithful Willie Nelson fans can rejoice, it seems, for now, Willie is indeed “On the Road Again.”