Black Music Matters Festival

Willie Nelson

Songs For Tsunami Relief: Austin to South Asia – 2005 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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Bruce Robison leads into Willie Nelson's set on this live cd with his comical salute "What Would Willie Do?" In the aftermath of the tragic events in South Asia on Dec. 26, 2004, the natural reaction for Nelson was to stage a benefit concert for tsunami survivors.

Nelson kicks off his segment with a moving rendition of "Living In the Promiseland," followed by such other crowd favorites as "Whiskey River," "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain." Also effective are "The Great Divide," the title track from a 2002 Nelson release, and a duet with Patty Griffin on "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground." Most impressive is a spirited version of "Still Is Still Moving To Me" featuring some fancy guitar licks from Nelson.

In addition to Robison, other Austin music scene luminaries here are Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo and indie rockers Spoon. Kelly Willis contributes "What I Deserve" and also joins husband and composer Robison in support of Natalie Maines on "Travelin' Soldier."

CD proceeds will go to UNICEF and C.A.R.E. in support of tsunami relief efforts. And it's an excellent show by Willie Nelson and some of his Austin friends.