By Chuck Cox
Front Row Contributor

When I heard legendary Texas icon Willie Nelson was playing two intimate shows at the Granada Theater, one of my favorite local venues, I knew I had to be there for at least see one show.

I thought the $125 ticket for the all general admission concerts was pretty steep, but we are talking about Willie. And I have to say that although seeing Willie play in such a small room that I love on Tuesday night was pretty damn cool, I really felt like I got a bit ripped off with the ticket price.

Why, you ask? Because Willie’s set was one hour and 13 minutes, which included three instrumentals and a cover of “Texas Flood” Willie’s guitarist, son Lukas, sang. Believe me, I’ve got no problem whatsoever with a short set from Willie. I mean, the guy is 83 years old. The fact he is still out touring and sounding great is both amazing and a blessing for fans.

The previous time I saw Willie play a show in Dallas was at House of Blues, another fairly intimate venue, in 2012. He did 33 songs that night

Willie Nelson on the Granada marquee. Too cool. (Photo: Chuck Cox)

with a ticket cost of $59 for general admission. On Tuesday night, he did 21 songs with no encore. If the ticket price for the two Granada shows would have been $75, I would have been 100 percent cool with it. But $125 was really excessive (not to mention the $55 T-shirts) for such a short headlining performance.

Okay. Enough of ticket price talk.

When Willie was doing his thing, playing Trigger and singing, he was amazing, as always. He obliged the crowd with a slew of his monster songs, like “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind,” which was my favorite of the set.

Willie turned several tunes into crowd participation sing-a-longs by holding his hand up to his ear for the crowd to sing the choruses on songs like “Good Hearted Woman,” which he dedicated to Waylon Jennings, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “I’ll Fly Away.” It was really fun to see such a large group of people in a small place dancing, singing and having a great time to start off 2017. Of course, a Willie crowd had people from all walks of life, which is also a really cool thing about seeing him live.

Willie made one fan incredibly happy by throwing his cowboy hat into the crowd at the end of “Nightlife.” He also threw a couple of his trademark bandannas off his head later in the show. He also signed a flurry of autographs for fans up front for at least two or three minutes while “The Family” played at the end of the show.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, especially since my college buddy Mike was with me to see his first Willie show. It added a lot to the evening to experience that “bucket list” item with him. The second sold out show is at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

I also really liked openers Runaway June, a trio of Nashville singer/songwriters who performed with acoustic guitars and killer harmonies. They had some really good material that stuck with me long after their 30-minute set. One of the tunes, “Wild West,” about group member Jennifer Wayne’s famous grandfather, actor John Wayne.

Although I loved every bit of their set, I would like to hear what the trio would sound like with a full band. Either way, Runaway June seems like it could be in for a very successful career.

Whiskey River
Still Is Still Moving to Me
Funny How Time Slips Away
Texas Flood (guitarist on vocals)
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Good Hearted Woman
It’s All Going to Pot
Georgia on My Mind
I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train
If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
On the Road Again
Always on My Mind
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
Will the Circle Be Unbroken / I’ll Fly Away