Willie Nelson Cancels Most Indoor Concerts Indefinitely: Here’s Why

by TK Sanders

Country western legend Willie Nelson isn’t exactly slowing down, but he is changing the way he tours. Nelson, who turns 89 in April, will release his new album A Beautiful Time on his birthday (April 29th). If you want to watch him play any of the new songs, though, you’ll have to catch him outside at an open-air venue.

Nelson announced yesterday that he will only be playing outdoor shows for the foreseeable future. His camp canceled most of their 2022 scheduled indoor shows.

The change affects multiple upcoming dates. The CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame on March 10th and 11th in Nashville is canceled, as is a sold-out date at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth on March 19th. Shows at the Peoria Civic Center Theater on April 20th in Illinois, the Silver Creek Event Center on April 22nd in New Buffalo, Michigan, and the Brown County Music Center April 25th in Nashville, Indiana have also been canceled.

Why is he playing outdoors only?

Nelson’s team did not give specific reasoning for the sudden change of plans, but COVID-19 likely plays a part. Experts overwhelmingly agree, now, that COVID does not transfer with much efficiency in outdoor environments. Given Nelson’s age and history of breathing problems, he is likely in one of the most high-risk categories for the respiratory virus.

Nelson canceled many shows over the last few years due to illness and breathing problems. He recently began performing while sitting down for the first time in his career, also. He is not suffering from any public illness, and the move could just be precautionary.

Some indoor dates remain on the calendar, though. Perhaps small tweaks can be made at these venues, like increased airflow or access to windows. Shows at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans on March 13th, the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio March 21st and 22nd, and the Moody Center in Austin April 29th and 30th with George Strait and the Randy Rogers Band have not been canceled.

The Nelson team replaced the canceled Michigan date with a show in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Fans can expect Nelson to play his regular show for SXSW at his ranch as a part of the Luck Reunion in mid-March.

Here are the amended dates and venues for Willie Nelson’s 2022 tour:

3/10 – CMA Theater – Nashville, TN – CANCELLED
3/11 – CMA Theater – Nashville, TN – CANCELLED
3/13 – Saenger Theatre – New Orleans, LA
3/14 – 713 Music Hall – Houston, TX
3/19 – Billy Bob’s Texas – Ft. Worth – CANCELLED
3/21 – Majestic Theatre – San Antonio, TX
3/22 – Majestic Theatre – San Antonio, TX
4/20 – Peoria Civic Center – Peoria, IL – CANCELLED
4/22 – Four Winds Casino – New Buffalo, MI – CANCELLED
4/23 – Kroger Field – Chris Stapleton: Concert for Kentucky – Lexington, KY
4/24 – CCNB Ampitheatre – Simpsonville, SC
4/25 – Brown County Music Center – Nashville, IN – CANCELLED
4/29 – Moody Center – Austin, TX w/ George Strait, Randy Rogers – Austin, TX
4/30 – Moody Center – Austin, TX w/ George Strait, Randy Rogers – Austin, TX
5/6 – Firstbank Ampitheater w/ Charley Crockett – Franklin, TN
5/7 – Brandon Ampitheater w/ Charley Crockett – Brandon, MS
5/8 – New Orleans Jazz Fest – New Orleans, LA
5/28 – Whitewater Ampitheatre w/ Zach Bryan – New Braunfels, TX
5/28 – Whitewater Ampitheatre w/ Zach Bryan – New Braunfels, TX
6/3 – Ozarks Ampitheater – Camden, MO
8/4 – Windy City Smokeout – Chicago, IL
8/6 – Musikfest – Bethlehem, PA