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Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, and Alison Krauss help pack the Outlaw Fest at the Mann with a 7-hour music extravaganza

on September 14, 2019 No comments
by Dan DeLuca
Willie Nelson and his well-worn acoustic guitar Trigger had a lot of talent company for the Outlaw Music Tour at the Mann Center Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 © Steven M. Falk /Staff Photographer

Everybody loves Willie Nelson, and why wouldn’t they?

The pigtailed 86-year-old makes American music that weaves together country, gypsy jazz, Sinatrian saloon songs, and the blues. He’s a genius sui generis interpreter of other people’s songs, and has written some pretty good ones himself, from “Crazy” to “Night Life” to “Funny How Time Slips Away.”

Nelson didn’t find the time to do any of those in his set when this year’s Outlaw Music Tour, a wondrously good-hearted seven-hour extravaganza pulled in to the Mann Center on Friday.

But he did pack 21 others into his spirited headlining show, which opened up as always with Johnny Bush’s “Whiskey River” and the Texas state flag draped behind him.

It closed with a “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and ”I’ll Fly Away” gospel-flavored one-two punch, for which he was joined by a dozen or so musicians, including fellow redhead Bonnie Raitt and Warren Haynes, who had performed with his band, Gov’t Mule.

In between Nelson played his battered acoustic guitar Trigger backed by simpatico longtime touring companions including drummer Paul English, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and his sister, Bobbie Nelson, on piano.

Nelson made quick work of staples like “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and a three-song Hank Williams medley. But he found his groove paying tribute to Django Reinhardt on the instrumental “Nuages,” and digging deep into Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia (On My Mind).”

He gave his fine new album, Ride Me Back Home, attention with Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You” and Buzz Rabin’s “Maybe I Should’ve Been Listening.” We all should be, to Willie, while we’ve got him.

After canceling shows this summer for health concerns, Nelson seemed in fine shape Friday, reluctant to leave the stage at night’s end, and his performance was more lively and nuanced than last September’s at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden.

“I’ve never smelled so much pot during my first song in my life.” Bonnie Raitt opening for Willie Nelson at the Outlaw Music Festival at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia – Sept. 13, 2019 © Dan DeLuca

Raitt preceded Nelson, and was fabulous. If the slide-guitar-spiced opener “No Business” from 1991’s Luck of the Draw wasn’t enough to remind the crowd how much they loved her, the quip that followed was: “I’ve never smelled so much pot during my first song in my life.”

She played the hits, pulling all the adult contemporary heartache out of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” but really got going with the blues, ripping into the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “I Believe I’m in Love With You” and bringing out Haynes on B.B. King’s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon.”

Warren Haynes and his band, Gov’t Mule, was also part of the seven-hour fest. © Steven M. Falk /Staff Photographer

It was a tough call as to what was the musical highlight of the evening. Raitt brought out Alison Krauss for a duet on John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” that was indeed angelic.

And after reminiscing about playing the Philadelphia Folk Festival and Second Fret in the late 1960s, Raitt played a solo version of Skip James‘ “Devil Got My Woman,” a song that she remembered performing for the Mississippi blues great in Philadelphia before he died here in 1969. Spine-tingling!

You’ve got a seriously stacked lineup when the singer who’s won more Grammys than any other woman in history is third on the bill. That would be Krauss, who fronted a seven-man band of sterling singers and musicians while sensibly dressed for the chilly evening in a buttoned-up overcoat.

The formidable bluegrass fiddler cut loose on “Sawing on the Strings” but otherwise turned in a gorgeously measured, finely calibrated performance.

Alison Krauss included two Willie Nelson songs in her stunning performance at the Outlaw Music Festival at the Mann Center – Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 © Steven M. Falk /Staff Photographer

She turned gender tables on Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All,” making it a song about a dude most eloquent when he keeps his mouth shut. Shenandoah’s “Ghost in This House” was spooky and an a cappella “Down to the River to Pay” from O Brother, Where Art Thou? even spookier.

And Krauss was careful to include not one but two Nelson songs, both his 1964 single “I Never Cared for You” — included on her 2017 album, Windy City — and the sorrowful “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” which she sang with all the dignity and grace it deserved.

Bonnie Raitt welcomed Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) performing B.B. King‘s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon”
© Rachel Faye

Setlist

  • No Business
  • Unintended Consequence of Love
  • Need You Tonight  
  • One Belief Away
  • I Believe I’m in Love With You  
  • Devil Got My Woman  
  • Something to Talk About
  • Have a Heart
  • Never Make Your Move Too Soon  (w/ Warren Haynes)
  • Angel From Montgomery  (w/ Alison Krauss)
  • I Can’t Make You Love Me  
  • You Got the Love  
  • Love Sneakin’ Up on You
by Dan DeLuca
Dan DeLuca @delucadan | ddeluca@inquirer.com

Source: © Copyright The Philadelphia Inquirer

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On this Memorial Day, I'd like to share the lyrics to my song "A SOLDIER AT WAR", dedicated to all the soldiers from all the wars who DIDN'T die, all those who have been living with the internal scars of their war experience. My heart goes out to you all, and I certainly do appreciate your service to our country. Is this an "anti-war song"...YES! And I dedicate these lyrics to the great Ron Kovic, author of "Born On The Fourth Of July".

A SOLDIER AT WAR

VERSE 1:
I’m a soldier at war.
I know you’ve seen my face before.
I am Red, White, and Blue.
I am black and brown and yellow too.
I have killed and I have died,
All alone and damaged deep inside.
And the child I used to be,
Was sacrificed for some insanity.

VERSE 2:
Left a boy, now half a man,
My innocence was lost in a foreign land.
I fought so hard and I fought so long,
I fought for my country, right or wrong.
In the eye of the slaughter,
No Star Spangled Banner did I see.
There is blood on the water,
It’s flowing like the blood inside of me.

VERSE 3:
In smoke-fill rooms, the Men Of Might
Will send your son somewhere to fight.
And I am one of many more,
Just pawns in a Holy War.

BRIDGE:
In a field where the food used to grow,
There’s a murder of crows.

VERSE 4
Now the war is dead and gone,
But the battle goes on and on.
And the dream that used to be
Is buried so deep inside of me.
I believed what I was told,
But all that glitters is not gold.
I still see my brother’s hand…..
Why he died, I’ll never understand.

VERSE 5….REPRISE:
I’m a soldier at war.
I know you’ve seen my face before.
Just a name and a loaded gun,
One more lost, forsaken son.
I’m a soldier at war.
I’m a soldier at war….
Just a soldier at war.
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1 month ago

From BRHQ -- Today is release day for a brand-new 2-CD set featuring Four Classic John Raitt Albums plus Bonus Tracks on Stage Door Records! More information below and to order, please visit:
bit.ly/3aGxsVt (Domestic shipping within the U.S.)
amzn.to/2UUJZ0O (Imported from the UK)
#johnraitt #bonnieraitt #stagedoorrecords #broadway
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2 months ago

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