At the Hollywood Bowl next month, Willie Nelson is going to do something he’s never done before. During his two-night stand (Aug. 9-10) at that iconic venue, instead of his usual live show–which typically focuses on his own vast song catalog alongside a cool blend of country, blues, jazz, pop, and other material–he’s going to perform his 1978 album Stardust in its entirety.

Released in 1978, Stardust is a collection of pop standards that marked a departure from the laid-back ‘outlaw’ country sound Nelson had become internationally famous for thanks to albums like Phases and Stages, Red Headed Stranger, and Wanted! The Outlaws. OnStardust, Willie offered superb, pared-down versions of jazz-pop standards like Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind,” Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” and Kurt Weill’s “September Song.” The album opened up his musical world considerably–it also went platinum within a year and has since sold more than five times that amount.

The Hollywood Bowl performances mark Stardust‘s 35th anniversary. Nelson will perform the Stardust set with a full orchestra led by David Campbell. He and his Family Band will also perform during the show, and Lyle Lovett and His Large Band are the opening act both nights.

While Nelson recentlyturned 80, he hasn’t slowed down at all. He still tours constantly, plays a mean guitar, and collaborates with a wide range of people. One of those collaborators this year was Jack White, whohosted Nelson for aspecial performance and birthday celebration at his Nashville-based Third Man Records last April. Filmed for a CMT Crossroads television special (which aired in June), the event featured a long list of special guests including Neil Young, Jamey Johnson, Leon Russell, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, and Ashley Monroe.

Third Man is also now releasing that session on vinyl. Don’t expect to find it at your local record store, though. Titled Willie Nelson & Friends Live at Third Man Records, the three-sided double-LP set will be available only to subscribers of Third Man’s Platinum Vaultpackage.

– Kurt Wolff,


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