February 8, 2013 | 9:00am
A good chunk of the crowd at Hard Rock Live last night was there to see bald-eagle-flag-lovin' Merle Haggard. Another larger part came to sing along with joint-rolling, "Crazy"-writing Willie Nelson. It's probably accurate to say though that everyone got the biggest thrill from spotting Vanilla Ice in the audience.
Mr. Van Winkle (hopefully) rolled up in his 5.0 to the Hollywood casino to watch the two country legends perform, still wearing the baggy pants and baseball cap of his youth.
The Hag closed his set with some Johnny Cash and the Red Headed Stranger kicked his off with "Whiskey River" (thanks for that, Willie!). But then it was time for cowboy hat-wearing fans with iPhones to swarm our local DIY-guy and former white dude rapper. He seemed receptive to the attention and generally affable. It's the unexpected guests we enjoy the most.
Willie and Merle may have provided the meat and potatoes for our Thursday night, but we got Vanilla Ice for dessert. And it tasted oh, so good.
Personal Note: When I'm an old lady, I hope to look like Willie Nelson. What a cool dude!