June 17, 2008
An American icon, Willie Nelson knew how to strike the right chord with a sold out crowd at Kettering, Ohio’s Fraze Pavilion on June 17. Starting the show with "Stay a Little Longer," Nelson and his tight unit painted the songs outer corners with a jazz tinged country brew while their leader practiced his well hewn penchant for scat singing.
"Funny How Time Slips Away" soon followed, and Nelson’s nods towards his audience displayed approval for their energized response. "Night Life" and "Crazy" carried the early portion of the concert, and Nelson’s sister Bobbie added swirling piano accompaniment to each standard. "Whiskey River" and "Bloody Mary Morning" had the entire pavilion on it’s feet, clapping and shouting back to the band.
Nelson’s wry sense of humor shined through the road hardened tour anthem about his travails with band partner and drummer Paul English on the ditty, "Me and Paul." And, harmonica master Mickey Raphael added imbued hues to Nelson’s biggest hits, including "Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" and "On the Road Again."
But, a Willie Nelson event is generally determined by the songs that reach high above the norm, and he pushed his vocal treatments of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" to new levels. He also added rarified perfection to his interpretation of "Always on My Mind," which made Willie Nelson’s Fraze moment a special treat for those in attendance.