Long Story Short - Willie Nelson 90 - Live at the Hollywood Bowl

"Long Story Short - Willie Nelson 90 - Live at the Hollywood Bowl" - Various Artists (Blu-ray)

If you watched this celebration of Willie Nelson's 90th birthday on network TV you actually only saw part of what went on at the Hollywood Bowl. That's because the two-day event presented so many performers that it was impossible to cram the whole show into a two hour television special. The film, which presents a couple of segments with Willie performing, is otherwise a non-stop parade of players singing songs that Nelson wrote or that are associated with him. Opening the Willie fiesta is Billy Strange playing "Whiskey River" and playing a hot acoustic guitar solo within; also in the lead-up to the first Willie segment are Charley Crockett with "Yesterday's Wine," Allison Russell and Norah Jones teaming for "Seven Spanish Angels," Dwight Yoakam with "Me and Paul," Lyle Lovett with "Hello Walls," Margo Price & Waylon Payne with "Georgia on a Fast Train" and Beck with a take on "Hands on the Wheel" which Willie recorded for his famous Red Headed Stranger album. Also appearing early in the show are Edie Brickell & Charlie Sexton, Particle Kid & Daniel Lanois, Orville Peck, Warren Haynes, Dave Matthews, Nathaniel Rateliff, Nelson's son Lukas Nelson, and in a touching but sad moment, Roseanne Cash with a feeble Kris Kristofferson performing "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)." Every artist takes time to wish Willie a happy 90th birthday and comment on how Nelson has influenced them over the years. Of course, many make reference to Nelson's well-known propensity for marijuana use, some telling tales of having smoked up with the singer. When Willie appears for the first time he's introduced by fellow weed lover Woody Harrelson, then playing "Stardust" with Booker T. Jones, performing "Will You Remember Mine" as a duet with Lily Medla and "Something You Get Through" with Buddy Cannon and "California Sober" with Billy Strings. After Willie leaves the stage the second half of the show begins and it is as star-studded as the first half. Among those appearing are Ziggy Marley, Norah Jones, the Avett Brothers, the Lumineers, Gary Clark Jr, Bobby Weir of Grateful Dead fame, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Leon Bridges and Tom Jones who points out that at 83-years-old he's not that far behind Willie. For the big finish Willie returns to perform "Are There Any More Real Cowboys?" with Neil Young and Stephen Stills, "Far Away Places" with Sheryl Crow, the beloved "Pancho & Lefty" with George Strait, "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" with Snoop Dogg and "We Had it All" with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Everybody crowds onto the stage for the grand finale of singing "On the Road Again" and "Happy Birthday" to the new nonagenarian. Clearly there will never be such a spectacle again and fans will find this film something to be cherished.


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