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On the Road Again: Willie Nelson and family play gig to benefit IFHF

David Patrick Columbia for New York Social Diary
 


Last night at the Four Seasons: a brilliant new idea for fund-raising in New York, the first in a series of “Cabaret for a Cause” with Willie Nelson and family playing a one-night-only gig to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) and the military men and women of our nation. The Series is the brainchild of Susan (Mrs. Jack) Rudin and Marketing and Events executive Wendy Kleinman.
 
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Willie Nelson's tour bus parked on East 52nd Street in front of the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram's Building last night at 8:30.
 

They sold 150 tickets at $1000 each for table seating, $150 for bar seating and special “meet-and-greet” tickets at $1200 for those arriving last minute.  The objective is to assist in a drive to raise $100 million for the construction of nine Satellite Centers at military bases around the country designed to provide new hope for those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). They will be providing medical care for service members without having to separate them from their unites or leaving their families for extended periods of treatment.

Last night’s cabaret earned $60,000.

Dan Rather introduced the star, referring to Willie Nelson as a legend, an icon and a great American. Rather reminded us that he’s written hundreds of songs, recorded hundreds of songs and hundreds of albums in his career. He’s a favorite of mine and millions of others, as you know. You can’t resist that unique country basso-baritone (did I get it right?).

I’d never seen him perform in person although the intimacy that you feel just listening to him or seeing him on a screen, is even more off-handedly charming and magnetic in person. He turned 80 this past April 29th and he’s still a powerful performer, the last of the country troubadours, talking to all of us through his songs.

The concert started right on the dot of nine. He sang straight through for an hour, including many of his hits (including “Crazy,” “On the Road Again,” “Always On My Mind”) and finished the set with Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

It doesn’t matter what the song is, it’s Willie Nelson singing it. Like no one else.  They gave him a standing ovation at the end and he came back for one encore “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die…” A very special evening for a very special cause.

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The bar in the Four Seasons, with guests assembling before the concert.
 
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The stage platform in the Grille Room, set up for Willie Nelson and family's performance. 8:45 p.m.
 
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Willie Nelson takes the stage at 9 p.m.
 
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Willie Nelson singing his encore: "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die."