Midway through Kacey Musgraves’headlining set at the Palomino Festival in Pasadena, California Saturday night, she performed her pop/country cross-over hit, “High Horse,” from her Grammy-winning Golden Hour album.
And just as I was starting to yearn for the reliably country and Americana sounds I’d been hearing earlier in the day in what was an impressive, eclectic lineup, Kacey let us know she had a surprise up her sleeve.
“We just played ‘High Horse.’ We were out back, and I think we found the highest one of them all. Willie, where you at?”
And out walked co-headliner, 89-year old Willie Nelson himself, nearly 90 minutes after the living legend had finished up his set on the same stage. He had conspicuously left “On the Road Again” out of his set list earlier in the night.
And I figured he was off to bed or hitting the road himself when he surprised a grateful crowd with a late-night cameo.
With “Trigger” in hand, Willie wasted no time heading right into his iconic, Grammy-winning hit, “On the Road Again,” with Kacey singing along with him. But the highlight to me happened during the guitar solo.
If Willie is slowing down at all at 89-years-young, his skills on the guitar have not missed a beat. Willie treated a roaring crowd to the one-of-a-kind sound of his famous guitar, playing “Trigger” like it was an extension of his own body.
I’m sure Willie only has so much touring left in him. But, thanks to the two Texas headliners at the Palomino Festival, the California crowd got one last chance to hear the timeless Willie Nelson “makin’ music with [his] friends” before hitting the road through LA’s famous traffic.
Kacey said it best after Willie had walked off stage for the final time that night, leaving her to close out the festival with a few more songs of her own:
“What a goddamn legend. How do you top that? I guess you don’t… but we can try.”
Kacey jumped into a cover of Dolly Parton’s “9-to-5,” keeping the momentum going and the crowd buzzing.
And “Trigger” stayed perched on the stage in a guitar-stand, soaking in yet another night on the road.