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W E D N E S D A Y

Just a few years ago, Willie Nelson‘s career hit rock bottom: His records weren’t selling, he was nearly broke, and the I.R.S. had repossessed everything except his golf clubs. He even stooped to peddling his still-magnificent voice for Taco Bell commercials (his “Run for the Border” still stomped the Nashville drivel then flooding the airwaves). In that dark era, when music-biz bigwigs uttered the name “Nelson,” they meant Ricky’s blond-tressed spawn. These days, Willie is back on the right track, if not on country radio. After racking up big sales on QVC, his Classic & Unreleased Collection has been released by Rhino (it’s a must for even casual Willie fans, if only for the previously unavailable version of Leon Russell’s desolate “My Cricket and Me”). Most important, Willie remains a hot ticket on the road, where he’s always been a star to his faithful fans. His concerts reveal a performer who, like Merle Haggard, has forged his own genre-busting brand of American music. Tammy Wynette opens at 8 p.m. at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, 1624 Trap Rd., Vienna. $16-25. (703) 754-6400. (Eddie Dean)

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