He has become so ingrained in the public consciousness, it’s hard to imagine a time when Willie Nelson wasn’t around. For all the discussion about bandanas and braids, celebrity collaborators and grey-area herbal remedies, the most enduring pieces of the Willie Nelson puzzle are his voice and his music.
Though 79 years old, Nelson has remained true to one of his most celebrated songs and really does seem to be unable to wait to get on the road again. His boundless journey will bring him to the Hudson Valley this Sunday, May 13 for a performance at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston: a Mothers’ Day for which one could certainly go “Crazy.”
Dropping puns about Nelson’s greatest hits isn’t just a journalistic gimmick: In the outlaw tradition of Robin Hood, Nelson gives the people what they want when he hits their town for a concert, and that means charming renditions of classic tunes, including those written for others (“Crazy,” a hit for the late Patsy Cline 50 years ago) and those written by others, too (“Georgia on My Mind” and “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” are show staples). But along with the old familiar numbers, Nelson always brings his gift for comfortable storytelling – a trait that has helped him build a faithful following all over the globe. His influence on Catskill Mountain country rock may not be on par with locally linked legends like Bob Dylan and the Band, though it’s probably not too far off either.
Enjoy Nelson’s first-ever performance at UPAC, and bring a bit of extra money along in case the merch table has the official bandana-and-braids for sale. You’ll want to bring your own denim vest for maximum effect.
Willie Nelson & Family, his trusted band, perform at UPAC on Sunday, May 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $90 for Golden Circle, $75 for adults, $70 for members and $55 for upper balcony. For more information, visit www.willienelson.com and www.bardavon.org.