By Tony Parra
Eastern New Mexico University officials have announced that country music legend Willie Nelson will be in concert on the ENMU campus six weeks from today.
The show is set for 7:30 p.m. on May 11 in the ballroom of the Campus Union Building on the ENMU campus. Tickets will be on sale starting Thursday for ENMU students and staff and Saturday for the general public.
Jeff Blake, program coordinator of Eastern’s Associated Students Activities Board, said the concept of bringing Nelson to Portales was first discussed after the Pat Green concert in September of 2003.
“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.”
Blake said he feels there are many country-music fans in Portales, and the success of the Green and Jessica Andrews shows in the last two years has been evident of that. ENMU students and county residents packed in the Ballroom for both shows. The Andrews concert took place in late January 2004.
Wendel Sloan, ENMU communications director, said country music artists have been traditionally successful in Portales. Sloan said that Greyhound Arena was full for concerts involving George Strait and Kenny Rogers.
“We’re very pleased that someone of his stature will be at Eastern,” Sloan said. “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.”
Blake said during talks with Nelson’s agents they discussed having the concert either in the Greyhound Arena or the Ballroom. Blake said Nelson concert organizers chose the Ballroom because they wanted a “guaranteed sellout.”
“I’ve been at Eastern for 23 years,” Sloan said. “He’s probably the best performer we have had in 15 years.”
Blake said other notable concerts which took place at Eastern were concerts by The Beach Boys and Pat Benatar.
Tickets will be available for students (I.D. required) at the bookstore starting Thursday at 10 a.m. The first 200 student tickets will be $20 (limit four tickets each). After the first 200 tickets have been sold, the student price will go up to $22.50 (limit six tickets each).
Pre-sale staff and faculty tickets (I.D. required) will be available for $30 (limit six) Thursday and Friday at the bookstore.
Tickets for the concert go on sale on Saturday for the general public. General admission tickets will be $30 each (limit six tickets per person) and $35 at the gate. The ticket sale location will be at the bookstore of the ENMU campus at 10 a.m. Saturday.
People can also purchase tickets beginning Saturday by phone at 1-800-462-7979 or online at www.enmu.edu (service charges may apply).
Nelson, 71, has been inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame. 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 recorded by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Highwaymen, The Allman Brothers, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Springsteen.