“It’s been a little while, huh?” said Willie Nelson, from the stage of the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, as he played his first concert in Bangor since appearing at the Bangor Auditorium in 2006.
Nelson, 81, is as American as baseball, as Woodstock, as a denim jacket. Thursday night he played to a crowd comprised of moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, their kids and grandkids and perhaps even great-grandkids at the Bangor Waterfront.
“We saw him when he was in Bangor the last time,” said Annie Johnson, who, with her husband Steve, is a longtime summer resident of Waldo County. “We’ve been fans for a long, long time… Since before our kids were born.
The multi-generational, laid-back audience enjoyed a sunny, breezy day and cool evening in Maine, and so did co-headliner Alison Krauss, a bluegrass legend who with her band Union Station played an hour-long set after the opening act, country upstart Kacey Musgraves. Krauss and the band arrived in Maine on Wednesday and, as she said during her set, spent that day on Mount Desert Island, riding bikes and eating lobster.
Krauss’ set ended as the sun went down, with an extended dobro jam from Jerry Douglas, who performed at the 2004 National Folk Festival, and a group performance of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” the massive bluegrass hit from the soundtrack of the film “O Brother Where Art Thou?” which was sung by Union Station guitarist Dan Tyminski.
Nelson’s set began as the sky fully darkened, starting with “Whiskey River,” his early 1970s hit from the album “Shotgun Willie.” Nelson, with a career that stretches over more than five decades and includes such beloved albums as “Stardust” and “Red Headed Stranger,” as well as his many books, poems, acting roles in films and outspoken advocacy for the legalization of marijuana.
He then played a set comprised of many of his countless, classic songs from over the years from “Crazy” to “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” to “Night Life,” supported by a band that includes his sons, Micah Nelson and Luke Nelson. Throughout, he of course played Trigger, the iconic Martin N-20 classical guitar that’s been his constant musical companion, through thick and thin, since 1969.
Up next in the Waterfront Concert series is a show from Boston and Cheap Trick on Wednesday, July 2, the free Chords For the Cure concert on the Fourth of July, and a concert from Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder on July 5.