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Willie Nelson Brings Spontaneity to the Stage

Willie Nelson isn’t losing a bit of his edge after 50 plus years on the road, and to be part of his band, you have to stay on your toes. His longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael explains that Willie still manages to surprise not only the fans, but also his band members with what he’ll play from night to night. But one song always gets the party rolling.

“There is no set list,” Raphael tells the “He’ll start off with ‘Whiskey River,’ then we have no idea where he is going after that. We don’t know from one night to the next what to expect. That’s what keeps it interesting and fresh. He is playing more guitar than ever before. If you’re at all a fan of guitar playing, it’s worth it if he never sang a note.”

Raphael says Willie’s music helped bridge the gap between rock and country fans in the early days. “Back then the country fans didn’t like the rock fans. There was a distance between all genres of music. Willie was one of those guys who got all those barriers dropped. That’s what I saw at his concerts. You had the hippies and the rednecks. Whatever animosity there might have been went away because of the music. Willie was an ambassador to that type of change.”

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