Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price
Country legends Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price hit The Champlain Valley Fair last night. The three long time friends / collaborators have been recording together on and off for almost 50 years. The three men sing songs of their lives, conveyed with honesty and conviction. If you were to add up the sum of the 3 gent's combined ages the number would reach a 150 years old, of course their faces have weathered the years but their songs are still relevant today. Songs of love lost and then found and regret are the thrust behind their song catalogue. They are the legends of country and time will never forget them.
Ray Price stepped onto the stage after his 12 piece band warmed up the audience with 2 numbers. Wearing an embroidered black jacket and a striped shirt with blue jeans, Price dove into his familiar repertoire with his golden baritone voice intact. Price is still at the top of his game at the tender age of 81. "I'm 81 years old. I ain't tired yet," Price told his adoring audience. "Please Release Me," "Make the World Go Away," "Heartache By The Number," "City Lights" and "Spanish Eyes" were among the hits we were treated to….wow, what a voice this man has!
After a brisk fifteen minute interlude the youngest of the 3 (70 year old) stepped onto the stage at 8 p.m. Fully clad in black, with his staple black fedora, dark blue tinted sunglasses and his custom Tuff Dog telecaster guitar strapped over his shoulder. Merle Haggard along with his 10 piece band, The Strangers rolled right into "Working Man Blues." Haggard proclaimed "we're just an old beer joint band. We started playing for drunks and look at us now." The highlight of the night began with Nelson joining in on Haggard's classic "Okie from Muskogee."
It was clear that most of the 12,000 plus fans in attendance were waiting for Willie Nelson to step onto the stage. At the age of 74 Nelson does not seem to be slowing down at all. Having gone through a series of lung operations in the mid-1980's and corporal tunnel surgery last year, Nelson looked to be in fine shape. Both Nelson his 8 piece band and Haggard took the stage at about 9 p.m. "Whiskey River" got the fans up on their feet as did several other Nelson / Haggard collaborations. Price sang a stunning rendition of Nelson's "Crazy" and then Willie Nelson's two friends left the stage. Highlights of Nelson's set include: "On The Road Again," "Your Always On My Mind" and what Nelson proclaimed to be his favorite song, "Moonlight In Vermont." Check out the set list below for a more complete listing of the songs that were performed (please forward an updated set list to firstname.lastname@example.org). Nelson's set ended with "I saw The Light."
The three formidable country stars soothed, lulled and rocked everyone last night. Regardless of age or taste in music, everyone in attendance seemed to have left the grounds more than satisfied.
Willie Nelson Set List:
Whiskey River (Haggard on guitar & vocals)
Poncho & Lefty (Haggard on guitar & vocals)
Beer for My Horses
Crazy (with Ray Price singing) (Haggard on guitar & vocals)
On The Road Again (Haggard on guitar & vocals)
You Were Always On My Mind
I'll Fly Away
Got To Get Over You (slated to be on Nelson's new CD)
Moment Of Forever (Kris Kristofferson's song, slated to be on Nelson's new CD)
Don't Treat Me This Way
Back To Earth
Me & Paul
Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain
All Of Me
Moonlight In Vermont (Nelson says "this is truly my favorite song")
Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
I Ain't Superman ? (written last year while recovering from surgery)
You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore (written last year while recovering from surgery)
I Saw The Light