The Jay Porks Experience (Mr. Sparkly Edition)

It felt like 6:30 a.m. arrived earlier than usual at the Gorge Amphitheatre last Sunday. It didn’t help that some a-hole’s phone alarm was going off next to our tent (you know who I’m talking about). Thenaturalstoner, Jay Porks, and I got up, packed up our camping gear, and head off to Spokane, Washington to see Willie Nelson and Family at the Northern Quest Casino and Resort.

We arrived in Spokane around mid-morning. After hanging around downtown for a few hours, we headed over to the Days Inn in Airway Heights to get Porks checked into his hotel. We left the hotel and drove to the Northern Quest Casino at 5:30 p.m. Over the next hour we walked the casino floor, played some video slots, and grabbed a beer inside the spots bar. At 6:30 p.m. we headed back outside to the outdoor concert area. The casino didn’t allow cameras or video recorders, although the security check at the gate wasn’t too strict—except they did search through purses and bags. During the show, we saw plenty of people taking videos and pics with phones and cameras. Had it not been for Mr. Jay Porks, we wouldn’t have had any photos because both thenaturalstoner and I had dead cell phone batteries and no chargers (that seemed to be a theme throughout the weekend).

The majority of the venue was folding chair seating with small sections of grass on the sides for standing and a designated smoking area near the back next to the Honey Buckets. The seating arrangement made sense because it was an older crowd. It should have been expected—after all, it was Willie Nelson and we were at a casino in eastern Washington.

Around 6:55 p.m. it was announced that the Willie Nelson would go on in a few minutes.  I thought to myself, “Maybe in an hour, after the opening band.” After all, we had heard a couple different names thrown around as openers.  However, at 7 p.m. on the dot, Willie Nelson and Family strolled on stage and started playing. It was perfect. After a long night at the Gorge on Saturday, I was ready to get this thing going.

He opened his set with” Whiskey River.” It sounded great, but I expected nothing less from Willie.  Later on in the show, thenaturalstoner commented that the show could have been louder. I didn’t mind it much because I was exhausted from the night before, and the mellow atmosphere felt like the perfect way to end the weekend. The third song in was “Beer for My Horses” (a Toby Keith cover). Although to be fair, Keith originally recorded the song as a duet with Willie. So I don’t know if that would still be considered a “cover.”

By the 5th or 6th song, Nelson busted out “On the Road Again.”  From then on, it’s classic hit after classic hit. Among them included:  “Crazy,” “Always on my Mind,” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” followed by a Hank Williams three-pack: “Jambalaya on the Bayou,” “Hey Good Looking,” and “Move it On Over.” A few people in the crowd stood up and danced, but the majority remained seated.

The highlight of the evening for me was “Bloody Mary Morning.” It’s one on those songs that I really dig. The show ended at 8:30 p.m. Willie’s tour bus was literally parked right next to the stage. He threw some red bandanas to people in the crowed, waved one last time, climbed on the bus, and was out of there.  As soon as the bus left, we walked back to the car then drove Porks to his hotel. Thus concluded the weekend that The Jay Porks Experience visited the Northwest…until next May when he joins us for the Sasquatch Festival.

Now for my grievances: The stage was set up against the exterior wall of the casino. A little disappointing, especially when you have been staring at the Colombia River as a backdrop the night before at the Gorge. In addition to the unappealing view of the casino wall, as the sun started to set, the light reflected off the windows and back into the crowd. Also, tickets for this show were $60. Again, when you have just come from a 4-band show the night before that cost $20 more (and one of those bands are Soundgarden), it doesn’t add up. Now I know what you might be thinking, “Hey, you’re talking about Willie Nelson here, $60 is a small price to pay.” At least this is the thought I wrestled with. However, the set was only 90 minutes long. I didn’t have any issues with what he played or how he sounded.  Maybe it’s because Willie Nelson has such a legacy and catalogue of great songs, that I was left wanting more. At least give us some “Pancho and Lefty.”


Partial Setlist

Whiskey River

Beer for my Horses

Funny How Time Slips Away

On the Road Again


Always on My Mind

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain

Me and Paul

Jambalaya On The Bayou

Hey Good Looking

Move it on Over

You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore

Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground

Georgia on My Mind

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys


Bloody Mary Morning

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die

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