Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Harpole spotted at concert sporting Willie-like braid

I finally got to attend a Willie Nelson concert. He was on the road again and turned up in Southaven riding in the bio-diesle bus with the full entourage and a little extra. He had his little sister Bobby with him on this trip and in typical Willie fashion kicked off the show with Whiskey River and wound up with Amazing Grace.

It was great! I knew we were in for a treat when the roadies muscled a baby grand piano on the stage which is her trademark.

I was well satisfied with the whole show which included Lee Brice, Randy Houser (a native Mississippian) and one of my favorites, Jamey Johnson.

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I opened my Philly show with his tribute to wasted lives “The High Cost of Living.” One of my partners in crime (in the music department) showed up at my shack with an extra ticket so we hauled it up early and visited Ms Rita before the show. It was her birthday, (I don’t ask which one) and I offered her my ticket which offer she declined, citing heat and humidity as an excuse. She did however braid my hair a la Willie and dug up, begged or borrowed a bandana and packed me off to the show.

“Riacharhd” she said in that Carolina drawl, “They’ll probably be a hundred people out theah with willy braids on and you might win a contest of some sort.”

Well, I didn’t put much stock in her theory of a contest but since I had the hair for the job, I let’em do it.

After all, I like Halloween and dressing up like Willie seemed to be a good idea at the time. They must have done a good job in the make up department because I started getting looks at the gate and was there after accosted by fans of Willie who wanted a picture, and sometimes was not what it appeared to be, but nobody seemed to care.

One lady from Rochester, N.Y. said she didn’t care that the borrowed bandana was blue instead of red, she was printing the photos in black and white and gonna “lie like hell about it.”

It was in a sense an aggravation because I missed parts of the show impersonating an “Icon of Americana” while I could have been listening to Brice-Houser and Johnson. That all changed when Willie and Bobby and Paul followed that “Baby Grand” on stage.

These days Willie looks younger than I do at 72 (I’m slightly younger and was better looking until they hit the stage.

There was no doubt about  who the real Willie was after that point. They were immediately indentifiable and that was good, because I finally got to be me again and enjoy the show.

Well, when the show shut down we all walked by the bio-diesel bus Willie travels in. We were curious as to what a bio-diesel bus smelled like when it was idling on a parking lot. Well, let me speak for the whole party, it smelled like a cross between Oregano and Incense sticks at a dead idle, but it made it to the next show.

When I related the events to Ms Rita she said in her finest Carolina accent, “Wehll, Riachad, what dhid you spect?”

That wrapped up the weekend and this column too!

On the road again,

Ricky Harpole