Local country fans excited for Nelson concert

By Tony Parra

People of all ages from Portales are eagerly awaiting the arrival of country music legend Willie Nelson to Portales.
Nelson will be in concert on Wednesday at the Campus Union Ballroom of Eastern New Mexico University. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. with Billy Joe Shaver as the opening act.
Promoters and organizers at ENMU did not say how many tickets have been sold. A call was placed on Wednesday to Venture Productions, promoter of the Nelson concert, but not returned.
The CUB has a maximum capacity of 2000 people, and the show is intended to be standing room only.
Howell Merrick, 90, who’s played the guitar for many years, said he enjoys country music and it will be nice to have a Nelson concert in Portales.
Hayden Goff, a 16-year-old student at Faith Triumphant Christian School, is looking forward to the Nelson concert and said he enjoys country music the most.
“I enjoy listening to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard,” Goff said. “Some of my favorite Willie Nelson songs are ‘Mamas Don’t Let You’re Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”’and ‘Red Headed Stranger.’
“I also like ‘Pancho and Lefty,’ a deut by Willie and Merle Haggard.”
Goff said he traveled to Roswell last year with his aunt and cousin to watch Nelson and Haggard at he UFO Music Festival. Goff said he plans to go this year’s festival as well. The event is scheduled for Doc Stewart Park in Clovis on July 3, according to marketing from Cannon Air Force Base.
“It’s nice to not have to travel so far to see him (Nelson) and Merle Haggard,” Goff said.
Nelson had 12 No. 1 country albums through the late 1970s and 80s as a Columbia Records artist. Nelson has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I know he’s quite a good country music artist,” Wanda Grider, a senior at the Senior Citizens Center, said. “We’re honored to have him perform in Portales.”
Dorothy Sanders, another senior at the Senior Citizen Center said the country music artist is a good fit for the farming community.
“I would think many farmers would come out (for the concert),” Sanders said. “He’s done a lot for the farmers. I think the concert will be good.”
Jeff Blake, program coordinator of Eastern’s Associated Students Activities Board, said there are still tickets available. General admission tickets are $30 each and $35 at the gate. Tickets can be purchased at the ENMU bookstore, by phone at 1-800-462-7979 or online at www.enmu.edu (service charges may apply).
“I was kind of hoping he would bring Toby Keith with him,” Portales resident Jack Carpenter said. “There’s a lot of people in this area that like country. I want to try to take my mom, Donna, to the Willie Nelson concert. I think the concert will do really well.”
The ENMU Upward Bound program is auctioning off a Nelson concert package to raise money for scholarships. The package includes: Two Willie Nelson concert tickets ($60 value), dinner for two at Cattle Baron ($30 value), and one night at the Super 8 Motel in Portales ($45 value). Bids will be accepted until noon Monday and the package will be awarded to the highest bidder by 5 p.m. Bidders can leave their bid, along with a phone number and an e-mail address, by e-mailing andrew.mason@enmu.edu or calling the Upward Bound office at 562-2452.