Outlaw Music Festival features plenty of toe-tapping performances, stellar sets

Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss and Osborne Brothers shine during Saturday’s stop at Saratoga Performing Arts Center

on September 8, 2019 No comments
Kirsten Ferguson

Willie Nelson’s beat-up blonde guitar, a Martin classical acoustic named Trigger, has been on tour with the country icon since 1969. It shows. The guitar is battered, lined with scratches and grooves, and has a hole above the bridge.

Nelson, like Trigger, is remarkable for his longevity and weather-worn character. Still touring at the age of 86, the indefatigable country musician brought his Outlaw Music Festival to SPAC on Saturday, with special guests Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss and Brothers Osborne.

Although he cancelled much of his tour over the summer due to medical problems, Nelson seemed in fine form at SPAC, where he opened, as always, with the signature tune, “Whiskey River.” From there, Nelson’s headlining set just flowed, like the river of brown liquor in the song.

A Lonestar flag hung on the backdrop as the Texan rolled through classics: “Still Is Still Moving to Me,” “Beer for My Horses,” “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Good Hearted Woman” and “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.”

“Give it up for Merle,” Nelson said before performing “It’s All Going to Pot,” a song he recorded with Merle Haggard before the country legend died in 2016. The toe-tapping tune has a cynical political message and is – as with all things Willie – unabashedly pro-marijuana.

Nelson’s catchy tune, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” had the levity of a joke but seemed just as likely to represent a true wish on his part. He rounded out his set with Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” and timeless songs like “On the Road Again,” “You Were Always on My Mind” and “Georgia on My Mind” before saying goodbye with the rousing spiritual “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

How lucky we were to see the 86-year-old Nelson – the poet laureate of American music in braids and a red headband – bring his charm and good-heartedness to Saratoga Springs on a beautiful early September night.

R&B legend Bonnie Raitt and bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss – two consummate professionals, with unmatched talent and beautiful voices – opened with flawless performances.

Bonnie Raitt & Alison Krauss Cover “Angel From Montgomery” During Outlaw Music Festival At SPAC – Saratoga Springs, NY – September 7, 2019

Raitt’s set with her band revisited her nearly 50-year musical career and some of her biggest hits, including “Something to Talk About,” “Have a Heart,” “Love Letter,” “Nick of Time” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” There were also more recently recorded tunes, like sultry INXS cover “Need You Tonight” and “Unintended Consequence of Love” from her latest album.

Krauss joined Raitt onstage for a duet on John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” that was just stunning. “I got a little verklempt doing that,” Raitt said after the chill-inducing song ended. She held her hand to her heart, clearly moved, before giving Krauss a big hug.


Krauss’ stellar set with her band elicited hushed reverence from the crowd on Nelson tributes “I Never Cared for You” and “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” as well as fan-favorite “Stay,” her reinterpretation of 1960s song “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You,” and older tunes “The Lucky One” and “Ghost in This House.”

A walk around the festival’s Outlaw Village in between sets by performers offered everything from tie-dyes and top hats to t-shirts for Willie’s Reserve – Nelson’s brand of cannabis grown by independent farmers that was advertised prominently throughout the festival.

Fans could even pose with a life-size portrait of Willie while holding props, like a “Free Willie” sign or a wooden middle finger.

Brothers Osborne, a six-piece roots-rock band featuring brothers and Maryland natives T.J. Osborne and John Osborne, opened the festival at 4:15 p.m. with a well-received set of straight-ahead bar-room rock. They got the crowd clapping along to spirited tunes like “It Ain’t My Fault.”

Source: © Copyright The Daily Gazette But wait, there's more!

Bonnie Raitt brings flavor to Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

on August 20, 2019 No comments
By Ty Davis

Old Town Fort Collins welcomed legendary blues/rock musician Bonnie Raitt Saturday night as part of the three day Bohemian Nights Festival presented by NewWestFest.

Blues and Rock singer Bonnie Raitt headlined the second night of the Bohemian Nights Festival after a full day of musical performances by artists such as Dubskin, Analog Son, Hound Heart and more. The performance took place on the Mountain Avenue stage, which was set up at the east end of mountain avenue near Propel Labs and Western Convenience Store, with simultaneous streams of the performance casted to Old Town Square and Library Park.

Raitt’s performance started at 8:30 p.m., and lines for the venue extended up through Mountain Avenue and Walnut Street.

Headliner Bonnie Raitt plays the Mountain Avenue Stage during the second day of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest on Saturday, August 10, 2019, in Old Town Fort Collins, Colo. © Timothy Hurst /For The Coloradoan

Raitt opened with a quick story about how she enjoyed walking around ort Collins. Raitt opened with an older classic, “Something to Talk About,” from her eleventh album “Luck of The Draw.” From there, Raitt performed a number of songs from her catalog but also covered several songs from other blues and rock artists. 

The venue was divided into two parts, an area in front of the stage and back area with a large tv display that allowed the crowd near the back of the venue to get a directed view of the performance. During the middle part of the show, Raitt and her band slowed things down with a few calmer songs, but immediately following, Raitt kicked the mood up to bombastic levels. 

A toy monkey, the mascotte of the band, sits on amplifiers at the back of the Mountain Avenue Stage during the second day of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest on Saturday, August 10, 2019, in Old Town Fort Collins, Colo. © Timothy Hurst /For The Coloradoan

The stage was awash in gentle blues and pinks which shifted dynamically to fit the tone of the performance, at times dark blue for somber moments before roaring back to pink to match to the more explosive songs. 

Raitt started her music career in the late ’60s when she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to study Social Relations and African Studies at Cambridge University. After playing at local coffee shops, Raitt landed a record deal after 3 years which lead to her debut titular album “Bonnie Raitt.” Raitt went on to release several hits like “Something, to Talk About,” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” along with 18 more albums over the course of her career with the most recent entry being “Dig in Deep.”

Ty Davis can be reached at or Twitter @tydavisACW

Source: © Copyright The Rocky Mountain Collegian But wait, there's more!

I Am (Not) a Diva

on June 5, 2019 No comments
By Nick Spitzer

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Diva”? We’ve found that it’s a word that can go both ways—as praise for an accomplished and magnetic performer, or as a put-down to someone seen as pompous or high-strung. We’re singing divas’ praises while also exploring the term’s various connotations through music and interviews from high-minded women with conflicting views on the word: Bonnie Raitt, the late Abbey Lincoln, Norah Jones, and New Orleans Gospel Diva, Cynthia Girtley.

Me and My Chauffeur Blues

Memphis Minnie
Four Women Blues, BMG

I’m A Mighty Tight Woman

Sippie Wallace
The Johnny Dodds Collection 1923-29, Acrobat

Sippie Wallace was definitely an inspiration to Bonnie Raitt. In the 1970’s, Bonnie sought out the elderly singer in Detroit, and they sang together at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival. Back then, Bonnie was just starting out as a guitarist and singer, recording a string of LPs that mixed new tunes with classic blues women’s songs. After 20 years in the biz, Bonnie topped the pop charts in her early 40s with the album “Nick of Time.” Since then, she’s continued to release great records and stay out on the road. It’s a work ethic she inherited from a musical family in southern California.

tip: most convenient way to listen while browsing along is to use the popup button of the player.

Bonnie Raitt: Well I come from a very musical family, my mom has a degree–a Master’s in music–and she was my dad’s accompanist and music director. My dad of course is John Raitt, the Broadway star of Carousel and Pajama Game. He toured and did concerts during my whole childhood and is in fact still out on the road at 85. But I really fell in love with Folk music, which was really kind of the music of my day, by going to camp, summer camp. Fell in love with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. And that’s why I picked up the guitar, was folk music.

Nick Spitzer: I wonder in all this world of music you came up through, how did you really get directly exposed to some of the blues performers that influenced you and you appeared with on stage later as time passed? I mean, you don’t necessarily meet Fred McDowell or Junior Wells unless you …

BR: Oh yeah, it was incredible luck. I mean because I was going to Harvard and there was a very terrific radio station, great blues show, and I used to listen to it all the time when I was studying. My friend Jack Fretell, who was also a Blues hound, he called me up and he said “You know, the guy that manages Son House lives in Cambridge, and he hangs out at the Club 47 all the time.” And Son was doing an interview on WHRB, and he says, “If you want, we could go up to Dick’s house and meet him.”

NS: This is Dick Waterman’s house?”

BR: Dick Waterman! And I mean, how lucky is that for somebody that said, “Let’s go hang out.” I went to his house and I met Son, and through Dick I met all of the people he managed – the great Skip James, Big Boy Arthur Crudup, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, then Magic Sam. And then my life kind of escalated because at that point, I just happened to be everybody’s cheapest, most versatile opening act because I could carry my own guitar, I didn’t need a band, didn’t care about being a star, or getting paid a lot. And I just happened to know somebody that booked all these blues acts. Hey, would you have gone back for your senior year when you could have that? 

BR: It was actually quite awkward in the mid 70’s when my fame eclipsed theirs. I said, well the person I really want to play with is Muddy Waters. But for me at 25 to have to look into his eyes and say, “Well, I think I have to headline.” That was a painful lesson in sociology when white blues artists become more financially viable in this culture than the originals sometimes. 

NS: How about the classic Blues women, on some of the early recordings you did the Sippie Wallace song and a few other things. 

BR: Well I didn’t get to know too– most of the old classic blues artists had passed away. And so Sippie, I got to meet Sippie Wallace, and she was the one that I really would have to say I was the closest to. And I really didn’t know she was alive until right before I played the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. I found out that she was living in Detroit, and I said I would play the festival if I can bring Sippie Wallace out. And that’s a great story because she didn’t want to play any more blues because she was in the church. And like a lot of older black blues artists, they feel like if they’re getting health problems they better start getting right with God. And then she heard me practicing “Women Be Wise” from my first album in the trailer before I went on stage and she started to just strut a little, go “Well maybe I’ll do just one tune with you.” And that was it. 

To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 7 and Sundays at 6 on WWNO, or listen at

Source: © Copyright American Routes and WWNO 89.9 and WWNO 89.9

But wait, there's more!