Willie Nelson wails at Maryland Theatre

May 16, 1999

Willie NelsonBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Former truck driver Chuck Porter knows exactly what Willie Nelson means when he sings about being "On the Road Again."

For 30 years Porter, of Middletown, traveled the country's highways hauling industrial gases while listening to Nelson's music. He said he has come to identify with a lot of the artist's lyrics.

"We put in a lot of miles together," he said of his favorite artist.

Porter got a chance to see the legendary country singer during a performance on Sunday at the Maryland Theatre on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

"I don't care what he sings. I like it all," he said prior to the show.

The performer came on stage around 7 p.m. and for 2 1/2 hours played hits from the past as well as from his newly released album, "Teatro" - the Spanish word for theater.


Nelson's stage show was as down-to-earth as his persona. His show did not feature an elaborate set or lighting display. Nelson and his six-piece band simply stood before an enormous Texas state flag representing his origins.

With little fanfare, Nelson started his performance with his hit "Whiskey River." The tune got things going, as hands began to clap, feet stomped and shouts of "yeehaw" could be heard.

The crowd of more than 1,000 people showed their appreciation for the performer with thunderous applause following the number.

Those attending the concert were an eclectic group, including children, teenagers, middle-aged men and women, grandmothers, bikers and soccer moms.

Some spectators seated far from the stage used binoculars to see Nelson up close as he performed.

Others focused more on the music, dancing in - and out- of their seats.

The singer played up to the audience by tossing the baseball cap he was wearing into the crowd. He replaced it with his trademark red bandana which he tied around his long braids.

Nelson, who has more than 200 albums to his credit, rounded out his show with more hits including Patsy Cline's "Crazy," and his "Always on My Mind," and "On the Road Again."

Lee Hixon of Hancock got a chance to enjoy the concert on Sunday from the front row, thanks to the generosity of his granddaughter and her husband, Dwight Bard.

Bard won the tickets in a local radio station contest and was planning to take his wife.

His wife sacrificed her ticket so that Hixon could go, he said.

"She likes Willie Nelson, but she knows he (Hixon) is a huge fan," he said.

"I'm really excited, I know he'll be good," said Hixon before the performance.

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