Willie Nelson: Enduring country star wows Hoosier Park

From grandmothers to grandchildren Willie Nelson is an Icon

By Rick Yencer

ANDERSON, IN - Country icon Willie Hugh Nelson entertained grandkids and grandmas with his medley of the great country hits while entertaining upcoming county stars at Hoosier Park Racing and Casino Friday night.

For Mike Martin and younger Josh Hatfield of the country-bluegrass  Mike Martin Band, Nelson is the king of country and kept them standing, drinking and dancing as Nelson ran through his greatest hits like "On the Road Again" and "All the Girls I loved Before" while offering other hits from Billy Shaver, and  Hank Williams Jr.,

Neighbor B.K. Wilson was hoping for the old Willie from Honeysuckle Rose and Shotgun Willie albums.

And Muncie party hound Sharon Costerian just loved to see Nelson one more time. Nelson just turned 80 years old and has looked the same since the government tried to take everything from him and his accountants actually went to jail.

Yorktown girl Molly Carver took her grandmother to see the 50-year veteran that has established himself as the oldest icon of country music that tells of gambling, loose women, drinking whiskey and even smoking marijuana - something that Nelson is known for best.

Thousands of people jammed into the arena for Nelson and his family, including sister Bonnie Nelson who plays the keyboard and has has her own music. On Friday, she played that country great, "Down Yonder" 

The hand clapping, foot stomping country got both young and old up and active, as Nelson offered everything from Georgia on my Mind and Good Morning America.

As Hoosier Park cameras flashed close ups of Nelson and that beat up old guitar that been has played for years, reminding his fans that Nelson has been around a half a century.

Nelson played straight through the 90 minute gig only resting while his sister played and again when there was a harmonica medley from younger band member.

Wilson liked the concert although he preferred just Nelson songs, while Martin just loved the old country sound and believed Friday's concert was much better that a recent appearance at Emens Auditorium.

And Costerian was just their because it was great fun to see all those country concert goers with red head bands, cowboy hats and young girls wearing those short frilly dresses.

Nelson has been touring extensively since he settled his government debt 20 years ago which was actually his Price Waterhouse accountants' fault and were punished for not paying Willie's taxes.

His voice was just the same as heard a few years ago to many years ago, making him the most enduring country star in the last half century.

Remember, this living entertainer is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and he has been recognized repeatedly by the national agricultural community for his work with Farm Aid where he just played recently.

Those Farm Aid appearances besides his 60 albums, 30 films and numerous books keeps him at the top of music charts and someone whose talent and songwriting will never be duplicated.

 And so called gospel tune,  Roll Me Up when I Die and Smoke Me, got the crowd roaring as he ended on familiar tunes and gave a blessing to his fans to come back again.

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