By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Country music legend Willie Nelson made his first concert in Portales a memorable one for eastern New Mexico residents on Wednesday.
Nelson led off the show with “Whisky River” on Wednesday night in front of more than 1,500 fans in the Ballroom of the Campus Union Building on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University. Nelson performed in the midst of finals week for the ENMU students, but still many college students were in the crowd, as people from many different age groups watched the concert on Wednesday.
Patsy and Bill King, a couple who made the trip from Roswell, said they enjoyed the show. Patsy, matching her husband in blue Nelson T-shirts they purchased at the concert, said the concert was a birthday present for Bill.
“I really liked ‘Always On My Mind,’” Patsy King said. “It’s a little packed and hot, but it’s a good show.”
Bill and Patsy drove up from Roswell to listen to Nelson. They said they missed Nelson when he was in concert in Roswell, last year.
“My favorite song that he sang was ‘Whisky River,’” Bill King said. “It’s amazing how good he sounds.”
Nelson went on stage wearing a black cowboy hat with his long pony tails.
At one point in time, Nelson tossed his standard red bandana into the front row and an exuberant female fan caught it. She jumped up and down, clapped and smiled after capturing the bandana and wore the bandana from the 72-year-old Nelson throughout the concert.
“He’s got a unique sound,” Kyle Dutton of Portales said. “It’s great that he’s playing in such a small venue. I’m glad I got to see him before he got older.”
Nelson has 2,500 published songs and 50 million albums sold. Nelson will also be staring in “The Dukes of Hazzard” movie during the summer as Uncle Jesse with Burt Reynolds as Boss Hog.
Nelson sang “Beer for my Horses,” “Pancho and Lefty,” “Crazy” and “Me and Bobby McGee” for the crowd. Nelson’s younger sister, Bobbie, played a piano solo during the concert.
“I love Willie Nelson,” Kaitlyn Bird of Portales said. “I think it’s (concert) awesome. I wish we could have more artists like him come down. It’s (concert) been worth it so far.”
Bird said she really loves “Always On My Mind” the most out of Nelson’s songs.
Billy Joe Shaver started off the show playing “I’ve Been to Georgia on a Fast Train”, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and “Honky Tonk Heroes”. During Shaver’s performance he said he had a song which seemed to appeal to the crowd.
“I’m going to do a song for the poor,” Shaver said. “Which most of you folks are.”
The audience members cheered after Shaver’s statement. Some of the members of the audience stood up and pumped their fists.