June 20, 2008

Willie Nelson Multifaceted in Tuesday’s Performance

By Carol Simmons Staff Writer

KETTERING -- There are many sides to Willie Nelson. There's the songwriter, there's the singer, there's the family member and there's the friend. And while all those sides were on display Tuesday night, June 17, during his headline performance at Fraze Pavilion, he showed another side as well: that of guitarist.

Taking obvious inspiration from the early 20th century gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Nelson added his own amplified acoustic guitar work throughout his 90-minute-plus set.

Nelson showed his famed songwriting side with such breathtakingly eloquent songs as "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" and "You Were Always on My Mind."

He showed his popular singer side with such hits as "On the Road Again" and "Beer for My Horses," a tune he recorded with Toby Keith; and he showed his family side by spotlighting his longtime pianist, sister Bobbie, along with sons Micah on percussion and Lukas on electric guitar.

He also evoked some of his musical friendships by singing a pair of tunes by Kris Kristofferson, as well as the crossover hit he recorded with Waylon Jennings, "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys."

Long known for his distinctive vocals and phrasings, Nelson seemed to push the furthest edges of that reputation Tuesday night, performing many of his best known songs as though he were singing the harmony part -- leaving the audience to fill in the familiar melodies internally, showing yet another side: innovator.

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