Live: Free Press Summer Fest, Houston (Day Two)
I have a confession to make: on the second and final day of Houston’s big Free Press Summer Fest, probably the best they’ve had in its four-year history, I pulled up lame. Surveying the schedule of acts playing on eight stages throughout the day, I decided I would see only one act.
As you may have surmised from the photo above, I decided to see only Willie Nelson today. The great Texas singer/songwriter, who is 79 years old, is simply a god. You can’t call yourself a Texan, or a music fan in Texas, if you haven’t seen Willie at least once.
He did his usual set: beginning with “Whiskey River,” touching on “Good Hearted Woman,” the medley of “Funny How Time Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life,” his funny “Me And Paul,” the great “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” the bluesy “Shoeshine Man” and the cheesy “All The Girls I’ve Loved Before.”
Willie paid tribute to Billy Joe Shaver with “Georgia On A Fast Train,” Steve Goodman with “City of New Orleans,” Hank Williams with “Jambalaya” and “Hey Good Lookin’ ” and Hoagy Carmichael with “Georgia On My Mind.” Right at the end, in between the gospel stompers like “I’ll Fly Away” and “I Saw The Light,” Willie announced “we’re doing a new gospel song” then kicked in to “Roll Me Up (And Smoke Me When I Die).” I was kinda hoping Snoop Dogg would materialize out of the smoke to sing his part from the record (it’s on Willie Nelson’s latest album Heroes), but sadly that didn’t happen.
And as Willie faded into the sunset, I did too. I caught a little bit of Austin’s Ume, led by fiery guitarist/singer Lauren Larson, on the way out and they were great. On Sunday I missed Girl In A Coma, Primus, the Avett Brothers, the Watermarks, What Made Milwaukee Famous and a few others I kinda wanted to see.
But my experience on Sunday was pure and unsurpassed. Willie Nelson’s a legend, and amazingly, he’s still going strong.