On Monday, country music legends and rising stars gathered at Austin’s Moody Theater to pay tribute to Waylon Jennings’s timeless music. The star-studded show was an outlaw country fan’s dream come true. Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Jessi Colter, Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, Allison Krauss, Ryan Bingham, Bobby Bare and more shared the stage to interpret some of Jennings’ greatest hits and deep cuts.
Die-hard Waylon fan and actor W. Earl Brown (HBO’s True Detective and Deadwood) emceed the show, providing colorful tidbits about each performer and song. Did you know Jennings wrote “Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way” on the back of a cocktail napkin in his car? Brown’s passionate commentary set the tone; the musicians made the magic happen.
There were several special moments throughout the evening. Kris Kristofferson wept during his duet of “Storms Never Last” with Waylon’s wife, Jessi Colter. Allison Krauss floored the crowd with her beautiful rendition of “Dreamin’ My Dreams.” The remaining Highwaymen, Willie Nelson and Kristofferson, joined Jamey Johnson and Shooter Jennings to perform the group’s self-titled mega hit.
Nelson led the end of the show by performing classic Waylon and Willie duets with the musical guests who are most clearly influenced by Jennings’ music. Nelson kicked off the songs at his own mysterious tempo — sometimes briefly befuddling his duet partners and the band — but everyone was all smiles. The Nelson duets included Toby Keith (“Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”), Chris Stapleton (“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”), Bobby Bare (“Goodhearted Woman”) and Sturgill Simpson (“I Can Get Off on You”).
For the encore, all of the musical guests returned to the stage for “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love). It was the perfect ending to a Waylon Tribute held in Texas.
The house band for the evening was also chock full of incredible talent, including the prolific producer Don Was (bass), Buddy Miller (baritone guitar), longtime Willie Nelson player Mickey Raphael (harmonica) and more.
It was a truly special evening and one hell of a good time. As Jessi Colter said early in the evening, “Waylon would have loved this.”
The set list:
- Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line – Bobby Bare
- Whistlers and Jugglers – Shooter Jennings
- Mona – Jessi Colter
- Ain’t Living Long Like This – Chris Stapleton
- Ride Me Down Easy – Lee Ann Womack
- Yours Love – Lee Ann Womack & Buddy Miller
- Memories of You And I – Sturgill Simpson
- The Wurlitzer Prize – Kacey Musgraves
- Freedom To Stay – Jamey Johnson
- Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way – Robert Earl Keen
- I Do Believe – Kris Kristofferson
- Storms Never Last – Kris Kristofferson & Jessi Colter
- Rainy Day Woman – Ryan Bingham
- Dreamin My Dreams – Alison Krauss
- I Ain’t The One – Alison Krauss & Jamey Johnson
- Honkey Tonk Heroes – Toby Keith
- Lonesome, On’ry, and Mean – Eric Chruch
- Til I Gain Control Again – Willie Nelson
- Mamas Don’t Let You Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys – Willie Nelson & Toby Keith
- My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson & Chris Stapleton
- Goodhearted Woman – Willie Nelson & Bobby Bare
- I Can Get Off On You – Willie Nelson & Sturgill Simpson
- Highwaymen – Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings
Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)