Willie Closes Out Blues and Brews

Sometimes, last is best. Especially when it comes to a concert bill—the closing act is usually the crescendo, the most popular band or musician to take the stage. Telluride Blues and Brews 2011 was no exception: Willie Nelson closed out the three-day music extravaganza in style.
Sure, the festival was full of highlights: Zappa plays Zappa, moe., Fitz and the Tantrums, and one of my personal heroes, Mavis Staples. Rain and snow pelted the audacious festival-goers, daring them to stay and hear the entire set, pneumonia be damned. But Sunday was blessed with perfect sun and the perfect last set. Willie Nelson was the Jonathan Papelbon of the festival, the ultimate closer. When his tour bus pulled up behind the stage, circumnavigating Telluride Town Park, the crowd erupted into spontaneous applause. His performance was classic—almost subdued—as the sun set and the park turned chilly, and the audience was enthralled. I sat with my in-laws, who are 70 years old, my friends, who are in their 30s and 40s, and our kids, an infant and a toddler, and watched them all be enchanted by his simple country charm. He is one of music’s living legends, one of the few performers to span so many generations of fans, and it was a thrill to see him live in Town Park.