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Willie & Elle & Me

Elle and I saw Willie Nelson at Ovens Auditorium last night. Neither of us are hardcore Willie fans, but we enjoyed seeing him with Asleep at The Wheel and decided he was worth seeing again.

Elle got us excellent tickets. They were in the front row on on a side aisle. I don't think I've ever been that close to the stage with non-festival seating. Before the show, we chatted some about Ovens Auditorium. I explained to her it used to be one of the main places for cultural events in Charlotte, back before there was a Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. I told her about seeing Sara Vaughn here many many years ago, and also seeing some cultural event at Ovens when I was in high school. I felt like a real old-timer explaining all this to her, since she has lived around here for at least twenty years.

Willie put on a pretty good show. He had a good rapport with his fans,throwing his hat or bandana into the audience several times. He did a lot of his own classics such as Crazy, Funny How Time Slips Away, and one of my faves, Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground. I had planned to reach over and take Elle's hand in mine while he was playing that last one, but her hands were kind of scrunched up in her lap. There was no smooth way for me to do it. I am nothing if not smooth, so mission aborted.


In addition to his own tunes, he did a number of covers, including Toby Keith's Beer For My Horses (one of my all time guilty pleasures) and Waylon Jenning's Good Hearted Woman. The most unexpected cover of the night was the instrumental Melancholy Serenade. This is probably better known as the theme from the Jackie Gleason Show. I'd only heard it done with an orchestra, so I almost didn't recognize it being played by Willie's small band. It was well executed, and I enjoyed the slow recognition of what I was hearing.

After the show people crowded the stage for autographs. This impressed the hell out of me. I have never heard of an artist as famous as Willie Nelson doing this. He seems to genuinely think of his fans as friends. I went up there with my ticket and braved the crowd for an autograph. He signed my ticket (no time to ask for names), and I gave it to Elle. I couldn't help but think "I bet I'll get to hold her hand after this!".

Elle took the ticket back up when Nelson's sister, who played the piano, was signing autographs. What a swell family the Nelsons are. And Elle deserved two autographs for planning the whole thing

It was a lovely evening for both of us.

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