Willie Nelson leads an Outlaw celebration of music at Pine Knob – Oakland Press

Willie Nelson performs as part of his Outlaw Music Festival Friday night, Sept. 22, at the Pine Knob Music Theatre (Photo by Mike Ferdinande)

A significant tinge of tie-dye gave Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival some additional psychedelic flavor on Friday night, Sept. 22, at the Pine Knob Music Theatre.

But that was certainly in keeping with the spirit of a traveling package that, as its title suggest, champions music, and music of a particular spirit, above genre or image.

While Nelson and opener Waylon Payne (son of longtime Nelson guitarist Jody Payne and a current member of Nelson’s band The Family) brought the country/Americana that’s Outlaw’s root, the Grateful Dead’s Bobby Weir and his Wolf Bros and String Cheese Incident contributed a “jam band” aesthetic, filling their respective sets with improvised instrumental excursions that were as pure as Nelson rolling through his array of standards. It may look like a collision on paper, but in the flesh on Friday — and partly owing to the acts’ tailoring their sets to the occasion — the co-existed seamlessly for the crowd 12,000-plus, the cowboy hats twirling along to the Dead’s “Ramble on Rose” and the hippies, old and young, singing along to Nelson’s “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again.”

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