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

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
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This is my friend Dick Waterman; we met at Mariposa in 1965 — I was hosting a blues workshop and he was managing the legendary blues singer Son House; he also worked with so many great blues folk, from Fred McDowell to Skip James, to Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy. In the pioneer days of blues internet groups, he was Richard the Younger and I was Richard the Elder (since I was a year older than he). Today's his 85th birthday — send him and his smashing wife Cinda greetings to their home in Oxford, Mississippi (jinxblues@aol.com) and tell him I sent you! ... See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

On the eve of John’s 74th birthday, I’m scrolling through precious memories of our many years together. Still so hard to believe I’ll never get to look across at him singing Angel with me again.

One of my favorite memories is of a night way back in '73, when a gang of us gathered back at the motel after a day hanging out at each others’ shows at the Philly Folk Festival.
We grabbed our instruments and some libations and met back up at Stevie Goodman’s room-- John, me, Al Bunetta, Freebo, David Bromberg, John Hartford, and a slew of others, too many to mention. Soon we were sprawled over both beds, chairs, every corner of the room. Stevie, John and I were facing each other across the two beds and Stevie started playing and we all joined in. What followed was the most extraordinary night of music—Stevie, the pied piper, seemed to know an endless stream of folk songs, Beatles, Everly Brothers, old rock and roll—all the verses and intricate chords too. We swapped leads and harmonies and there may have been a mandolin and some harmonica. It was a magical night and we all felt it.

I can still see Stevie's irrepressible grin and John beaming back at him. The love they shared for each other was as true and deep as any I've witnessed.
There was so much joy and love in that room, I'll never forget it.

When the dawn's light finally crept under the motel curtains, we dragged ourselves up and straggled back down the halls, spent but still buzzed and grinning, passing the Festival goers on their way to the breakfast buffet.

Remembering this special night, I celebrate John on his birthday today. And I picture him reunited with his beloved Stevie and Al--arms wrapped around each other, grinning ear to ear, enjoying every bit of what he hoped he'd find when he finally got to Heaven.

Happy Birthday, my dear pal. I miss you so much. You’re here in my heart and I'll be singing Angel for you every time. You give me one thing, that I can hold on to. ...
To believe in this livin'.

To John, Fiona and the boys, I send
all my love,

Bonnie

#IRememberEverything
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From BRHQ -- Tomorrow night, Oct 7th 7:30pm-9:00pm ET (right BEFORE the VP debate) Watch Bonnie perform on the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence!
Join Melissa Etheridge, John Fogerty, Wynton Marsalis, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and more for the 2020 Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Streaming here on Facebook: fb.me/e/1BHKSGvl2
For the full list of performers and to make donations click here: tinyurl.com/Concert-Performers

Then please watch the VP debate. And most importantly, VOTE.
Also check out our Celebrity Auction. Bid on one-of-a-kind experiences like some hang time with Jason Alexander, your own fitness session with celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels, or a some custom Nikes. Bid here: tinyurl.com/CAA-Auction
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