Willie Nelson in Concert, Bend, Oregon, September 17

The first time I experienced Willie Nelson live in concert I was in a kayak on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. My friend Ande and I couldn’t afford tickets at the time, but we had kayaks, determination and a handy river running right past the venue. True story. We packed snacks and (ahem) “beverages” and rowed upstream past the concert, so we could lazily float downriver to the sounds of Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys, On the Road Again and To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.
The Les Schwab Amphitheater is a jewel on the landscape of Central Oregon, with the Cascade mountains on the horizon and the Deschutes River at its feet.

The sun sets over the Les Schwab Amphitheater during a live concert in Bend

Named after the tire magnet, this outdoor stage was built in 2001 by Bill Smith as part of his Old Mill District – the reincarnation of a neglected industrial area into a vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment center. At the Les Schwab Amphitheater, enthusiastic crowds have seen the likes of Coldplay, the Steve Miller Band, John Mellencamp and many more music luminaries.
Returning to the stage on Friday, September 17, Willie Nelson will rock the river and the happy crowd inside the amphitheater. Nelson has been touring throughout the summer with his long-standing troupe of musicians, or “family,” to present a new album of country standards, Country Music, which was released last spring. Tickets and information.

The Cowboy Junkies

Willie Nelson closes the outdoor concert season in Bend. As the school year ramps up and the weather cools down, eyes are turning to indoor venues, including the Tower Theatre in downtown Bend – another treasure of our community. Coming up at the Tower: Trace Bundy (Sept. 10), Blind Pilot & Sara Jackson-Holman (Sept. 29), The Cowboy Junkies (Oct. 5), Greg Brown (Oct. 6) and Judy Collins (Oct. 12). Link here for a complete list of upcoming performances at the Tower Theatre.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up without music!

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