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Five things I wrote in my notebook during the Willie Nelson concert at Sunset Station

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The man. The legend. Willie.
Photo: Dustin Walker
Chris Bitonti

1. The benefit of an outdoor amphitheater is typically space, but these seats are so close together I might actually be sitting on top of my neighbor. Good news is, our late-July heat is being held off by a nice breeze, though it seems to have de-tuned Willie’s guitar for the first four songs.

2. Now that he’s in tune, its easier to appreciate Willie’s unique style. His playing seems to flow separate from the rest of his band, who methodically keep the beat behind him as he loosely strums often-imperfect lead lines that somehow always find their way back to the count.

3. Along with his greatest hits (“Whiskey River,” “Always on My Mind,” “On the Road Again”), Willie’s show is an homage to the best of outlaw country, with shout-outs to Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.

4. Willie might be 79, but his self-deprecating wit hasn’t gone anywhere (see: new number “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”).

5. Willie & Co. could be playing in a punk band the way they burn through song after song almost without stopping, fitting as many under-three-minute classics as possible in the 90-minute set. No need for an encore when you’ve played more songs than most bands do over two nights.

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