Published on February 7th, 2023

As a pioneer of “outlaw country,” Willie Nelson challenged the Nashville music establishment from his Austin, Texas base and redefined what country music could be in a career spanning more than 60 years. Now approaching 90, the white-haired “Red Headed Stranger” is on the road again with his musical family.

Where icons such as Hank Williams Sr. and Chet Atkins modeled traditionalism down to their cowboy hats and collared Western shirts, Nelson became a very different kind of country gentleman. He openly smoked marijuana, ate hallucinogenic mushrooms and was unafraid to braid his long, flowing hair. As a member of the supergroup The Highwaymen, he and fellow outlaw country crooners Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings spread their new Americana to younger listeners.

He took on causes such as animal welfare and marijuana legalization. His annual Farm Aid concerts have benefitted struggling family farmers since 1985. And when he ran afoul of the IRS, his crafty businessman side emerged: He paid off his tax debts with the release in 1992 of “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?

His 2021 release, “The Willie Nelson Family,” is an intimate portrait of the Nelson clan: He collaborates with his daughters Amy Lee Nelson and Paula Nelson, sons Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, and sister Bobbie Nelson (who passed away in March of 2022), all accompanied by the Family Band, his touring and recording group.

Lukas takes lead vocals on a faithful yet fresh interpretation of George Harrison’sAll Things Must Pass,” sounding not unlike a younger version of his father. The addition of acoustic guitar and Bobbie’s piano pleasantly softening a rock-era classic.

The elder Nelson’s latest solo album, 2022’s “A Beautiful Time,” snagged a Grammy nomination for best country album, showing that Shotgun Willie’s still got it. His voice shows some age but it’s undeniably him, with a soft sweetness coming through on the opening track, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die,” written by a couple of Nelson’s notable admirers, Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell.

Willie Nelson & Family perform 8pm Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Pompano Beach Amphitheater. willienelson.com ~ Olivia Feldman