Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee, Willie Nelson, is on the road again—and this time, he brought his iconic dreads to Plant City’s Florida Strawberry Festival.
The patron saint of country music must love strawberries—or blistering carnival rides. The former Red Headed Stranger served as one of the festival’s mainstage headliners on Friday for the third time in the last six years. And in the words of Rob Thomas, it was a hot one.
At 3pm, Willie took the stage, sporting his illustrious guitar, Trigger, and a straw cowboy hat. But it didn’t take too long for him to get comfortable, quickly ditching the hat for a self-branded bandanna. What followed though was nothing short of miraculous.
The 89-year-old wailed through a 23 song set of hits (and some that will be), and traded solos between his son, Micah (aka Particle Kid), and longtime “family” member, Mickey Raphael. After stumbling through the beginnings of two Harlan Howard covers though, Willie forgot the lyrics.
“I need the words,” he said to someone offstage before abandoning them in favor of a medley of classics he wrote for other artists: “Crazy,” “Night Life,” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.” It was a rare moment of vulnerability for the artist, who celebrates his 90th birthday next month.
But that’s not to say that his performance wasn’t anything less than stellar. Every syllable and strum sounded as pure as it did back in his heyday, when he was trading licks with Waylon and the Highwaymen. There’s a reason why he’s apart of the small class of country acts to be nominated to the Rock Hall. He is a living legend.
The Florida Strawberry Festival runs through Sunday, March 12th, with live entertainment each day. According to a press release from the fest, Lynyrd Skynyrd will still perform Sunday night, despite the passing of founding member, Gary Rossington, yesterday. For more information, visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com.