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Willie Nelson Brings Rowdy Outlaw Country Music to Brooklyn

August 13th, 2015

Willie Nelson & Family – Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell – August 12, 2015

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Willie Nelson & Family brought outlaw country music to Brooklyn last night, performing for a rowdy, sold-out crowd at Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell. With the opening notes of his 1973 song “Whiskey River,” an enormous Texas state flag unfurled behind the band, a tribute to the artist’s roots. With the Lone Star blazing behind them, Willie Nelson & Family tore through many of his most distinctive hits, including “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind,” with a loose, freewheeling energy.

“Let’s do one for Waylon,” announced Nelson, paying tribute to fellow outlaw countryman Waylon Jennings, as he performed “Good Hearted Woman,” encouraging the crowd to sing along during the chorus in a lively call-and-response. Jennings wasn’t the only artist to get a nod from Nelson, who also paid tribute to the likes of Hank Williams with a rendition of “Hey, Good Lookin’,” Merle Haggard with “It’s All Going to Pot” and Tom T. Hall with “Shoeshine Man.” Of course, Nelson, the longtime marijuana-legalization activist, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do “Roll Me Up” (a song that instructs: “And smoke me when I die”) to an overwhelmingly approving crowd.

Encouraging everyone to clap along, Nelson & Family finished the show with a version of the gospel hymn “I’ll Fly Away” before tossing his hat into the crowd and leaving. With Nelson’s talent and an abundance of outlaw spirit, it seems almost irrelevant to mention that he also happens to be 82, but then it makes him all the more impressive nonetheless, and Brooklyn was that much cooler in his presence. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK