On the Road Again. Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain. Crazy. Kansas City Here I Come.

Not all these are Willie's songs, not all are made famous by him although he wrote them. But one thing's for sure, when he sings them, when he sings anything, you'll know it's Willie Nelson.

8 miles up Hwy 71 in Spicewood lay the Two Rivers Canyon Amphitheater. We hauled the Mitsubishi loaded up with Mrs. Austin, Lil Miss Austin, Grandpa and Grandma Colorado and myself down the winding scenic highway until we reached the gilded oasis of music, turkey legs and redneck beer drinkin'.

Mrs. Austin purchased tickets to Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic months ago, practically when they went on sale. Willie Nelson is to her as a trip to Disneyworld is for an 8 year old. So making this trip to Meca-B-Q was a no brainer. With my parents buying their own tickets as well, it was just begging for a good time...

...or disaster.

Sorry, I'm reading that Da Vinci book so I'm forcing some dramatic pauses in here.

Anyway. The day was overcast and breezy. We'd heard on the radio and TV the day before (the actual 4th of July) that traffic was horrible getting into the venue. The rain made the general admission seating resemble Woodstock II. And on top of it all, The Dead (sans the Grateful) did a 3 hour set. Even Willie thought it better to avoid that trip. But that's not the 5th of July. When we went, the crowds had stayed home or left later, the traffic was non-existent, the rain stayed away, and all that was left was the fun.

Even being a confirmed anti-country fan, and recently giving in to the urge to own a cowboy hat because I thought it was more an urban apparel thing, I had a really good time. We didn't sit too close, but this wasn't Rage Against the Machine, if you wanted to get close to the stage, all you had to do was politely nudge past a few drunk Texans and you were there. Mrs. Austin did that several times, making sure to get her money's worth of Willie and her inner core's worth of heavy bass lines. I mostly sat with the parents and LMA while band after band took the stage.

I'd like to give a special recommendation for anyone reading to check out Los Lonely Boys; easily the band of the day. They were tight, energetic, fun, talented, and had a big sound with not a large band. To me, they blew away the headliners included the "Best Band in Austin" Del Castillo. Consummate performers with a natural sense of music and human emotion, I was glad to have been party to their unfortunately short set.

Willie was not the main star of the show. Don't get me wrong, it had his name all over it, but he wouldn't be on stage all the time. He'd come out and play along with each band for one song, then head back to his air conditioned bus to recoup. I don't think ANYONE had a problem with it, after all, he's freakin 70 years old. However it gave an odd sense of eulogy to the entire event, like they were celebrating the man who was only partially there. It wasn't a Willie Nelson concert, it was a Williepalooza. So when one of the acts couldn't perform because they were stuck in traffic, we had the legendary honor of hearing Mr. Nelson do 4-5 songs on his own, a twist of fate we wouldn't normally had the pleasure of hearing. It was pretty funny all in all that the next performer was "stuck in traffic" when there was no traffic either getting to the show or leaving the show. Another biz euphemism for "they're stoned off their ass and couldn’t carry a tune right now if you put it in a back pack." Needless to say, Mrs. Austin bolted to the stage and enjoyed 30 mins of unadulterated Willie (easy with the jokes now.)

I can't say it's the most fun I've ever had. It was certainly enjoyable, but it also came with a lot of sitting and worrying about my parents. The last concert they went to I'm pretty sure involved the word Pops, so having them sitting in the muddy and rocky grass surrounded by straw hats, long boys and a prominent lack of AC was giving me stress that I was unable to translate. I didn't want to leave, but I didn't want to force them to stay if they didn't want to, and I didn't want to tear Mrs. Austin away from her country music bliss. I easily blasted through half a pack of smokes in about 4 hours. Not wanting to spoil the afternoon by being a sour puss, I had a few beers and forgot about it all.

In the immortal words of Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Screw you, I'm from Texas."

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