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Willie Nelson

American Classic: Texas icon Willie Hugh Nelson, going strong at almost 77.
American Classic: Texas icon Willie Hugh Nelson, going strong at almost 77.

We sure hope we don't have to tell you why you should go see Willie Nelson at this point, especially if you never have. He only seems immortal, but the man will be 77 in April. In fact, 2009 might go down as a relatively slow year for Nelson: He only released two studio albums, standards set American Classic and Asleep at the Wheel collaboration Willie & the Wheel, but then, he also spearheaded Farm Aid for the 22nd time, ran his own Sirius/XM satellite radio station and kept to the usual relentless tour calendar that cycles him through the Arena Theatre Saturday. If you have seen him before, though, let your eyes wander from the Red Headed Stranger — shouldn't be that difficult, what with the Arena's revolving stage — and focus on other musicians like drummer/Willie's right arm Paul English (of "Me and Paul" semi-fame), unobtrusive but essential bassist Bee Spears or guitar-picker Jody Payne. And not even Willie would be Willie without the chromatic contributions of harmonica genius Mickey Raphael and sister Bobbie plunking her honky-tonk gospel piano. There's a reason he calls his band the Family, you know.

 
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