As Willie Nelson himself entered the stage at The Stone Pony over Labor Day weekend with the opening notes of “Whiskey River”, I knew immediately I was in for a show that would belong at the top of my most memorable list. The 83 year old serenaded not only a sold-out crowd within the venue, but a number of fans watching from the grass outside the venue, and those lucky people who secured spots on the boardwalk where you could catch a glimpse of the venue. If you were in Asbury Park on Friday September 2, you were there for Willie.
The crowd was a mix of generations, yet everyone shared the same excitement as he plowed through an assortment of his own songs, and songs of his fellow country greats such as, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings.
With little talking between, Nelson went on to perform “Beer For My Horses”, a duet which he did with Toby Keith, “On The Road Again”, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”, and moving instrumentals on his beloved guitar.
Midway through the show, I turned to my friends and stated that I could listen to this all night. Willie Nelson’s set went by far too quickly, and I noticed the rest of the crowd standing in awe with me, until the final note was played.
Before Nelson took the stage, The Tangiers Blues Band set the tone with a captivating set packed with their signature rock and blues sound. This local group made up of several talented musicians gave off the perfect upbeat vibe to kick off the night.
My first Willie Nelson experience was just how I imagined, a night full of country classics, sung by one of the most iconic voices in the genre, and I was fully immersed in every second.