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Willie Nelson, ZZ Top Prove 70 (or 80) Is The New 20 At Outlaw Music Festival (Photos)

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Willie Nelson, ZZ Top headline the Outlaw Music Festival at at Blossom Music Center on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Photos by Judie Vegh)

This weekend will go a long way in proving the old guys still got it.

At 75, Elton John plays Progressive Field    Saturday night. It’s Sir Elton’s third time in Cleveland on his farewell tour. But first up on Friday were Willie Nelson and ZZ Top.

Nelson’s traveling Outlaw Music Festival rolled into Blossom Music Center. This year’s lineup featured ZZ Top, Gov’t Mule, Larkin Poe and Nelson’s son Micah aka Particle Kid (who would return later in the night for Willie’s headlining set).

The first big draw of the evening was Gov’t Mule. The Georgia jam band’s loyal fanbase put on a strong showing.

The crowd at Blossom ranged from joyful baby boomers and parents with small children to leather-clad Hells Angels members. No matter the age, color or gender, all were air guitaring their way through every song, from the onset of “Traveling Tune” to the driving “Railroad Boy” to the emotional country blues of “Banks of the Deep End.”

Of course, at the center of it all was lead singer/guitarist Warren Haynes. At age 62, Haynes still plays guitar like the charged-up 20-something who worked alongside the likes of David Allan Coe and Dickey Betts.

Haynes’ vocals soared on Gov’t Mule’s “Time to Confess” before he embarked on an epic solo that felt like the musical equivalent of a spiritual awakening. The thrills and chills continued on “Wake Up Dead” and the band’s stellar cover of Tom Waits’ “Make It Rain.” But it was the fan-favorite “Soulshine” that truly brought the house (about two-thirds full) down.

There wasn’t much time to take a breath, let alone refill your drink before ZZ Top strolled out on stage. Newbie bassist Elwood Francis – the band’s longtime guitar tech – joins guitarist/singer Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard.

Francis seemed a bit stiff early on, lacking some of the natural charisma and chemistry Gibbons had with Dusty Hill, who passed away last year. But Gibbons had Francis’ back. From the moment the 72-year-old frontman took the stage and blazed through “Under Pressure,” you couldn’t take your eyes off him.

The first third of ZZ Top’s set was thrilling and very (very) loud. “Waitin’ for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” (the opening one-two punch from 1973′s “Tres Hombres”) still pack a wallop. “Gimme All Your Lovin’” inspired the kind of swaying dance moves you see your parents or grandparents pull out at weddings. “Pearl Necklace” and “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” provided the call and response singalong fans seemed to be begging Gibbons for.

When Gibbons wasn’t wowing the crowd with his signature growl, he was doing it with playful guitar tricks. “We just making this s*** up as we go along, man,” he quipped. The livelier Gibbons got, the more Francis loosened up, joining his bandmate for some of the signature moves Gibbons and Hill made famous.

Midway through ZZ Top’s set, the front of the pavilion at Blossom Music Center truly began to feel like a roadhouse. It smelled like one too, with a somewhat tolerable mix of sweat, beer and smoke permeating through the air.

No matter. Gibbons and ZZ Top were on fire, backloading the set with another run of hits, including breaking out the signature white fur guitars for “Legs.” ZZ Top delivered an encore capped by a fiery version of “La Grange” that saw the stage lights bounce of Gibbons’ guitar and bubbles (yes, bubbles!) fill the air.

It was a tough act to follow. Then again, Willie Nelson can simply stand on a stage and bring about a standing ovation, which he did when he arrived a few minutes before 10 p.m.

Nelson’s stage setup was modest: Himself and Particle Kid son acoustic guitars with an upright bass, snare drum and harmonica players surrounding them, backed by a massive flag of Texas.

Nelson is 89 years old. Seeing him at this point feels like a rite of passage for any fan of American music. And there Nelson was — still pushing out notes on “Whiskey River” and picking away at his guitar on a cover of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys’ “Stay a Little Longer.”

Nelson didn’t waste much time with chit-chat, running through song after song with barely a break in between. It allowed him to cram what could have been a lengthy set into a tight hour.

Highlights included Nelson and Particle Kid duetting on “Die When I’m High (Halfway To Heaven),” Mickey Raphael’s harmonica solo on “Bloody Mary Morning” and a singalong to “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”

Nelson’s set went back and forth between upbeat tunes and ballads. The best example being the transition between “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind” — the latter still packs an emotional punch when Nelson sings the chorus.

Many fans seemed to take “Always on My Mind” as a de factor closer, making their way to Blossom Music Center’s exits just halfway through Nelson’s set. Those who stuck around got to witness the icon run through a collection of iconic covers, most notably “Georgia on My Mind,’ Hank Williams’ “Move It on Over” and Terry Fell’s “Truck Drivin’ Man.”

Nelson didn’t deliver an encore. But he didn’t have to. Despite approaching 90 years old, you get the feeling we’ll see Nelson again very soon. Expect the Outlaw Music Festival to return to Blossom at some point and deliver the goods once again.

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Chicago prosecutor drops sex abuse charges against R. Kelly

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R. Kelly arrives for a hearing on sexual abuse charges in Chicago on May 7, 2019.Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP via Getty Images file

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters that her office believes “justice has been served” against Kelly, who has been convicted in federal court.

An Illinois prosecutor dropped 10 charges of sex abuse against the singer R. Kelly on Monday, saying the cost was one of the factors she weighed in her decision.

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is already serving a 30-year prison sentence on charges of federal racketeering and sex trafficking after he was convicted in New York last year.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters that her office believes “justice has been served” with the two convictions. She said her office’s “limited resources and court time” were the ultimate factors, noting that it found the accusations to be credible.

“Mr. Kelly is looking at the possibility of never walking out of prison again,” Foxx said.

Kelly is set to appear Tuesday in Cook County Court, where the charges will be formally dropped. The state has accused Kelly of sexually abusing four people, three of whom were minors.

Foxx announced the state’s case in 2019, saying the incidents occurred from May 1998 to January 2010. Kelly had faced three to seven years in prison for each charge if he were convicted.

The women in the case were identified in the indictment only by their initials. Multiple women have come forward with allegations over the years.

Lifetime aired a six-part docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” in January 2019 in which multiple women alleged Kelly subjected them to mental, physical and sexual abuse. Foxx urged potential victims to come forward to speak with her office about possible criminal activity after the series.

Foxx said Monday that she consulted with the women in the indictment before she decided to drop the charges, acknowledging that some might be disappointed.

“I know firsthand how difficult it is for you to tell your stories,” Foxx said. “Four years ago, I stood at this podium and shared my story of having been a survivor and my full understanding of what it means to have to go before strangers to discuss what is arguably one of the most horrific experiences one could have. And these women, all of them Black, came forward, believing that they would be heard.”

Kelly also faces state charges in Minnesota, where he has been accused of soliciting a minor for sexual purposes and engaging in prostitution with a minor.

In the New York case, Kelly was convicted on nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking. Jurors found that he set up a criminal enterprise that enabled him to recruit and transport underage girls for sex.

Months later in Chicago federal court, he was convicted on six counts of sexual exploitationand enticement of a minor. He is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges Feb. 23.

Kelly’s attorneys have said he plans to appeal both federal convictions.

Source: NBC NEWS

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50 GB Of Unreleased Michael Jackson Songs Stolen And Leaked

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Renowned music engineer Brad Sundberg’s laptop was stolen this week during a break at one of his “In The Studio With MJ” events in Brussels, leading to the leaks of several unreleased songs by the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Sundberg’s laptop contained a significant amount of unreleased material by the iconic singer, predominately from the late 1980s and early 1990s. He would play them for fans who attended the events over the years.

The stolen songs, which were recorded during Michael’s “Bad” and “Dangerous” eras, have now surfaced on various online platforms, causing a frenzy among the fans. This is not the first time that unreleased material by Michael has been leaked, but under the circumstance of the theft, it’s certainly the most shocking and disappointing.

Fans have urged others to refrain from sharing or downloading the leaked songs, as they were not intended for public release and may contain unfinished versions of the tracks, as well as damage any plans for potential future releases.

We at MJWN are deeply saddened by the events. We hope those involved will be brought to justice. We will not be posting any links to the stolen material, nor naming the songs that have been leaked.

Michael’s Estate has yet to release a statement on the matter.

Source: MJWN

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‘Addams Family’ Tv Actress Lisa Loring Dead at 64

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Lisa Loring, the first Wednesday in 1964's 'The Addams Family', dies at 64

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