The Willie Nelson and Friends Shuffle

Didn’t get home in time last night for a Sunday shuffle. Oh well. I saw Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Neko Case at the Hollywood Bowl last night, and they were all pretty great — I’m planning on writing a more in-depth review for Cokemachineglow, but here are some highlights:

Neko Case – “Deep Red Bells”: mp3

Neko’s set was short and sweet — she was clearly excited to be playing to the typically enormous Bowl crowd and opening for Willie, and that carried over to songs like “Deep Red Bells” and “Maybe Sparrow.” I wouldn’t have minded hearing “Star Witness” (or a little more dynamism), but her voice sounds as good live as on record.

Ryan Adams – “Blue Hotel” (live, 7.22.06): mp3

Ryan played the night’s classic rock set, covering not one but two Grateful Dead songs (“Stella Blue” and “Wharf Rat”) and leaning heavily on his Jacksonville City Nights and Cold Roses material. He was playing with the Cardinals and opening for Willie, so it makes sense for him to skew a little country — but dropping “Shakedown on 9th Street” as the only Heartbreaker song was a little disappointing. Ryan was wearing a vintage Batman shirt and his stage banter was hilarious, so points for that. I would have enjoyed the jamming that concluded (if you can call it “concluded”) every song if I’d been sitting a lot closer. “Blue Hotel” is the only new tune he played; it’s more in the vein of what I like to call his adult contemporary material than the rest of his ragged set.

Willie Nelson – “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”: mp3

The last — and first — time I saw Willie was seven or eight years ago, when Ray Charles was opening for him. He played most of the same songs, dropping “Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away” early in the set and playing a remarkable number of legendary songs, but even more impressive was his guitar playing. Willie is perhaps the most underrated guitarist of our time. He solos and plays like it was what he was born to do. He almost seemed to rush through the lyrics so he could go back to soloing. As always, his performance was a family affair: he spotlighted each member of his band and allowed several of them — including his son, Lucas, a budding blues guitar virtuoso — to take lead vocals. Generous dude, Willie Nelson. When he played a pair of new songs at the tail end of his set, the crowd laughed and laughed. He’s nothing if not loveable.

It’s good to be back, gang. Lots of exciting bloggin’ coming up this week, so stick around.


The Rob Gordon Shuffle is a weekly Sunday (mostly) rundown of fascinating songs and albums without any particular regard to genre or timeliness. It is absolutely not a top 5.