Willie Nelson coming to ENMU

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University officials confirmed Tuesday country music legend Willie Nelson will appear in concert May 11 in the ballroom of the Campus Union Building.

Tickets will be go on sale starting Thursday for ENMU students and staff and Saturday for the general public.

School officials are expecting a sellout.

“We’re very pleased that someone of his stature will be at Eastern,” said Wendell Sloan, longtime ENMU communications director. “He’s a legend in his own time. People who love songs from different genres will be out. The venue will appeal to a cross-section of people. We expect the concert to be very successful.

Sloan said country music artists have been traditionally successful in Portales. He said George Strait and Kenny Rogers drew full houses at Greyhound Arena. “

“I’ve been at Eastern for 23 years. He’s probably the best performer we have had in 15 years.”

Other notable concerts at ENMU in the past include the Beach Boys, Bad Company and Pat Benatar.

Jeff Blake, program coordinator of Eastern’s Associated Students Activities Board, said the success of concerts featuring up-and-coming country stars Pat Green and Jessica Andrews in the last two years paved the way for landing Nelson.

“It’s amazing that we’ve been able to get Willie Nelson to Portales,” Blake said. “I think he’s a perfect fit for the area.”

A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the 71-year-old Nelson has won six country Grammy Awards, according to the Grammy Web site.

Billy Joe Shaver will open the concert for Nelson. Shaver wrote all but one of the songs on Waylon Jennings’ “Honk Tonk Heroes” album. Shaver’s songs have been also been recorded by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Allman Brothers, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Springsteen.