CARTHAGE, Ill. - When Michael Moore was a child growing up in Texas, he spent his weekends listening to Willie Nelson with his uncle.
"That's all we'd listen to all weekend, so I'd go home and then go back to school still singing Willie Nelson songs," he said.
That early love of Nelson's music grew into a 25-year-long career performing in various tribute shows as Willie Nelson.
Some of the shows he produces and performs in are solo shows and others, like the Highwaymen Live, feature other artists who perform as country greats Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.
The Highwaymen Live, a tribute to the original Highwaymen that formed in 1985 and consisted of Nelson, Jennings, Cash and Kris Kristofferson, will perform Friday at the Legacy Theater, 1160 Buchanan St. in Carthage. The show will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for children 12 and youmger. Tickets can be purchased in advance at thelegacytheater.com.
Although Moore performs as Willie Nelson, his interest in playing music stems from Elvis Presley.
"It started at a young age with a love of Elvis Presley music believe it or not. I was a huge Elvis fan as early as I can remember, being 7 or 8 years old," he said. "I fell in love with the drum set at that age, and I've always been driven passionately by music."
Moore says he fell in love with the original Highwaymen when they first started recording music and touring. Since 1987, he has played tributes to the band in different variety shows.
About 10 years ago, Moore created his own version of the Highwaymen Live, which is different from any of the tributes he had done prior to it.
"I created it, I do the song selections for the show, video planning for the shows, I write the payroll checks," he said. "It's my baby."
His baby is thriving more than ever right now.
"The more I think that some of these legendary people tend to die and to disappear, the more the older demographic of 45 and up kind of miss it," Moore said. "It's something they all grew up with, and once it's gone, you don't seem to be able to just run down the street and enjoy it anymore, so the want to come and see it is probably more in demand than it ever has been."
The Highwaymen Live, Moore says, is a respectful tribute to Nelson, Jennings and Cash in vocal ability and physical likeness.
"We are by no means trying to claim to be these guys or think that we're replacements for these guys, but we like to think that we have a very tasteful tribute to these fine, legendary country singers," he said.
Whether you're a fan of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard or the original Highwaymen, Moore says to make sure you come to the show.
"If you love classic country music, come out early and stay late because the Highwaymen are in town," he said.