AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) – Two days after hosting President Barack Obama, it has been announced that the Houston home of plaintiffs attorney Steve Mostyn will be the site of a fundraiser for the Democratic nominee for Texas governor.
On Friday, state Sen. Wendy Davis emailed supporters, notifying them Willie Nelson would perform at an April 27 fundraiser at Mostyn’s home.
On Dec. 31, the Mostyn Law Firm donated $1 million to the Texas Victory Committee – a joint project of Wendy R. Davis for Governor and Battleground Texas.
“No, folks, I’m not kidding,” Davis said in her email. “We’ll have some amazing Texas BBQ. We’ll be talking about the future of our great state. And at the end of the night, we’ll have a special performance by Willie.”
Mostyn made hundreds of millions of dollars suing the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association after Hurricane Ike ravaged the gulf coast.
On Wednesday, Obama met with around 30 members of the Democratic National Committee and major party contributors at Mostyn’s home.
The announcement that Willie Nelson will serenade Davis’ financial backers comes only two months after the senator’s Republican rival, Attorney General Greg Abbott, suffered a political blow from his association with another Texas musician, Ted Nugent.
In February, Abbott made an appearance with Nugent at a voter turnout rally. That same month, the controversial singer called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel,” drawing criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
And campaigning with an outspoken celebrity can have its drawbacks, as Abbott can attest.
Nelson, an iconic political activist, chairs the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and favors marijuana legalization. Over the past several years, his troubles with the IRS have made national headlines.
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It only happens once a year… Willie Nelson’s website has a Four Twenty sale with cannibas related things. They do go fast, especially the glass stash jar.
Willie waits in the shadows for his cue on the Pair of Aces movie set.
Willie introduces 15-month-old son Lukas to Kris Kristofferson
Country music megastar Willie Nelson invites Larry aboard his tour bus for an open conversation about life as an octogenarian, the legalization of marijuana, & the 2016 presidential race.
by Don Roth and Jan Reid
[This is the second part of this article. I typed the first part and you can read it at part one ]
Several bigger, more financially secure performers stand on the periphery of the Austin music. Doug Sahm, the bluesey voice of old Sir Douglas Quintet who resurfaced recently with country trappings and the aid of some superstar sidemen on a critically-praised album, drifts in and out of Austin, as does Kinky Friedman, a good country rocker with an unfortunate knack of offending people. Marc Benno of Leon Russell’s Asylum Hoir fame has also moved in, and rumors float by, a dime a dozen, about more big-name immigrants. However, none of the big names has had much influence on Austin music as yet, with the exception of one.
A 37-year-old small-town Texan, Willie Nelson has a smile that would make Buddah nervous. It spreads across a face that bear lines of age and experience but still contains the warmth that makes Nelson so impressive onstage. For a couple of decades the Nashville music business kept Nelson writing when he wasn’t on the road pursuing an on-again, off-again career as a singing star, but in 1971 he decided his career could weather a move to Austin. He still plays the country bars and hangs out with Darrell Royal. But suddenly there’s a new, infrequently barbered Willie Nelson with a seasonal beard, drinking beer in the Armadillo beer garden and performing at McGovern rallies.
At a time when city-slickers envy country roots, this metamorphosis boosted Nelson’s career rather than hurt it. Atlantic signed Nelson earlier this year, promoting his Shotgun Willie album with a double-barrelled photo of the man in his most hirsute hippie splendor. They’ve switched his arrangements from Ray Price to Ray Charles — the result: a revitalized music. He’s the same ole Willie, but veteran producer Jerry Wexler finally captured on wax the energy Nelson projects in person. Nelson plays Max’s Kansas City while in New York, and aVillage Voice critic calls him the “best country artist in the land.” Willie Nelson is Austin’s first nationally-certified, Billboard-proclaimed superstar. this time, it seems, the prodigal son brought the fatted calf home with him.
If anyone is qualified to serve as high priest of Austin’s movement toward the big time, it’s the grinning, gentle rebel who made the music industry come to him on his own terms yet somehow remained the almost universally admired nice guy and artist. Willie Nelson has thus become a symbolic figure, the one man whose approach to life and music makes sense of Austin’s curious mix of freaks and rednecks, trepidation and ambition, naivete and striving professionalism. And where symbolic heroes move, cults often follow.
But in the music business reputations are gauged in dollars and cents. In March 1972, with their eyes on Nashville, several Texans staged a country music festival on a ranch west of Austin. Poor promotion made that event a financial disaster, but the few who attended enjoyed themselves immensely. A year later, the site near Dripping Springs was still available, and Nelson and a group of his more business-oriented friends decided to try it again on a manageable, one-day basis, running it professionally, charging reasonable prices, lining up the best of the new country breed — Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, John Prine — along with good local performers, Just to keep things symbolic, Willie’s drummer Paul would get married onstage as the sun sank into the blue Texas hills. Business and pleasure combined.
Nelson hired Eddie Wilson’s Armadillos to promote the event. Wilson had his doubts, predicting “either a big success or a big mess,” but as this festival neared it became apparent Nelson had guessed right: Texas were primed for the honky tonk of their lives. Word got around that Bob Dylan and Leon Russell were on their way. Some attribute the rumor to Doug Sahm, who did not show. Bob Dylan did not show. Leon Russell did show, after a fashion: he spent the day sampling various labels of beer, grinning a lot, emceeing a little, and warding off starstruck grupies and journalists.
A beautiful Fourth of July dawn found Nelson onstage along with a blinking, grey bearded drummer named Leon. But by noon the Texas sun turned into a persistent bitch, torturing 30,000 incoming automobile travellers logjammed on two converted cow paths. Braver souls started hitching, walking, and cursing in hopes of hurrying things along. Hikers and drivers arrived anywhere from one to three hours after hitting the traffic jam –and all arrived thickly coated with white caliche dust from the un-oiled roads.
The crowd sprawled out of the natural canyon which faced the bandstand onto barely more shaded hillsides. They stood in long lines before moveable privies, waited for ice that never arrived. The organizers neglected health provisions too, and Austin Free Clinic personnel coped unthanked with everything from wine prostration to heat exhaustion.
Meanwhile, everybody backstage had a pretty good time for a while. The best picking of the day reportedly went on inside the air-conditioned mobile homes of the privileged. But minute by minute, the backstage compound got uglier. A shouting, shoving brawl erupted between the music industry’s two most obnoxious elements: the flunkies and the hangers-on.
The long-haired security guards, lacking a foreman, were soon power-ripping, casually shoving females into the dirt. And both in the compound and onstage, hangers on resisted pleas to vacate by the sheer force of their numbers.
Security hands finally cleared most of the stage during Charlie Rich’s set, and with the sun getting lower and the day cooling off, things began to look better. And at last, as Kristofferson prepared to play, the sun went down.
Showco Productions of Dallas had contracted to provide the lighting, but it was a bad day for everyone. When a UPI cameraman protested that the stages lights were insufficient for filming, a Showco employee yelled, "In one minute I’m going to knock your eyes out with two super troopers." In one minute the lighting imporived all right, but when a Kristofferosn protege fed two strong bas notes through the amplifiers, every transformer in that part of Hays County blew, and Willie’s Picnic plunged into total darkness.
hangers-on began to lurk like hyenas back onstage. WHen somebody finally produced a gasoline generator, an emcee pleaded for patience and a drunk deputy sheriff suggested that everybody get naked. As a large portion of hte audience groped toward the parking lot somebody thought of plugginginto a Winnebag, and the show, not so loud and much dimmer, got underway again. Tom T. Hall broke a guitar string, and folloiwng th elead of his WOodstock predeccors, threw his $300 instrument to the crowd. A fistfight ensued. One artist or another played until 2:30 in the morning, and dwan found a panorama of garbage that would have filled Armadillo World Headquarters wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Nobody had thought to retain a refuse collector either. The adolescent Austin music industry had reached for maturity and fallen flat on its face.
Adolescent debacles are rarely fatal and usually instructional. The day after the Dripping Springs show Eddie WIlson slammed his fist against a wall in anguish and humiliation, but he was already formulating thoughts on how to do it next time. He is no stranger to learnnin f rom experience. Skeptical observers pointed otu that music industry professionals from New York, Nashville, and L.A. could have run the picnic more efficiently, but Wilson doesn’t want the pros around. He knows that with them will come the industry’smajor pppllutant: carpetbaggers. Already he has seen all kinds of hustlers floathing through, looking for a shuck and a jive.
Wilson and his music business colleagues stress that any Austin music boom must remain localised. The creation of a music center in Austin woudl bring millions of dollars into the local economy, millions that would wind up in the pockets of Austin musicians, technicians, artists and publicists strugging to get by now. Even the environment would benefit. According to Wilson the music industry, unlike others that a growing Austin might attract, doesn’t pollute and it doesn’t get in the way visually; about 50 million dollars could be put into the Austin music business and remain invisible. The stage has been set very nicely, so why not continue? thus the music businessmen proceed, caution thrown to the winds.
Within a week after Dripping Springs, Eddie Wilson returned to the Armadillo’s stage to emcee Texas’ first locallly conceived, locally produced rock simulcast, speaking emotionally about the unique character and sparkling future of of Austin’s music scene. As Wilson said, longhairs and goa ropers can co-exist at the Armadillo; but they also shot each other the finger at Dripping Springs. As Wilson said, Nashville is watching what’s happening in Austin; but the music business wears chameleon colors, and the country-rock; boom may soon go the way of sitars and moogs. Hope springs eternal, but Billboard rules the air waves.
The rock & roll musician has replaced the cinematic actor as America’s number-one star. He is at the mercy of a mass-marketed culture which forces him to think like a businessman and throws him into the clutches of a possessive but fickle audience. The performers who forced Austin music to relax came to the hill country to save themselves and thier art form such a culture. If Austin becomes the sort of music scene America has known previously, then will haae to compromises some of their integrity or pull up the stakes again.
In late June, Mike Mrupheytook his shirt off and entertained another of those fine Armadillo crowds. At night’s end Murphey was beaming at the frantic crowd milling beneath him, and he left with the words, “I don’t knowhow long this can last, but I’m with you as long as it does.” We don’t know either. We hope Austin’s laid-bac pickers can hold their unique fort, but that may be like wishing the boys of the Alamo luck against Santa Anna’s dusty legions.
- The Nearness of you
- Fly Me to the Moon
- Come Rain or Come Shine
- If I Had You (with Diana Krall)
- Ain’t Misbehaving
- I Miss You So
- Because of You
- Baby, It’s Cold Outside (with Norah Jones)
- Angel Eyes
- On the Street Where You Live
- Since I Fell For You
- You Were Always on My Mind
Musician Willie Nelson, Gail Abarbanel of Stuart House, actor Darren Le Gallo, actress Amy Adams, and designer John Varvatos arrives at the John Varvatos 11th Annual Stuart House Benefit presented by Chrysler, Kids Tent by by Hasbro at John Varvatos Boutique on April 13, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for John Varvatos) *** Local Caption *** Willie Nelson; Gail Abarbanel; Darren Le Gallo; Amy Adams; John Varvatos
by: Adam Tschorn
All Willie Nelson pot-smoking jokes aside, Sunday afternoon’s Stuart House benefit at the John Varvatos boutique in West Hollywood – including a musical performance by the country singer and sons Lukas and Micah – marked a serious high point in the annual event, raising a record $939,000 in just five hours.
That tops the $830,000 raised in the same window at last year’s event. Since the final 2013 tally grew by $120,000 by the time the online auction period ended 11 days later, we’re guessing this year’s post-event on-line bids and donations will push the funds raised over the $1 million mark.
The funds, which will benefit Stuart House, a program of the Rape Treatment Crisis Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, couldn’t come at a better time, according to the program’s founder and director, Gail Abarbanel.
“This is a landmark year,” Abarbanel told a celebrity-heavy crowd that included co-hosts Amy Adams and Darren Le Gallo, LL Cool J and Courtney Love. “In a few weeks, we’ll be breaking ground on a new building that will double our capacity and allow us to do the necessary training. … Think of this as a ground-breaking event in advance of the ground-breaking event.”
Abarbanel was followed to the stage by Adams and her fiancé, fellow actor and co-host Le Gallo. Adams, who has been involved with the organization since hosting a fundraiser brunch five years ago, profusely thanked the crowd for showing up — and opening up their wallets.
“Thank you all for coming,” she said, “It’s easy to turn away [from a topic like this]. Thank you for not turning away.”
With that, a spirited live auction — conducted by comedian Bill Bellamy — got under way, starting with an electric guitar signed by the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “We’ll even throw in a pair of tube socks,” Bellamy said — a reference to the band’s famously naked-but-for-the-socks album cover. The winning bid went to LL Cool J, who dropped a cool $8,000 and took the stage to accept the guitar — and a pair of (thankfully new) socks.
“Now I’ve got some tube socks for my next concert,” he quipped.
After that, a blur of items followed, including a VIP pass to the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in Ojai (a last-minute addition that went for $3,250), a personal shopping spree with John Varvatos that fetched $20,000 (When Bellamy joked that the winning bidder would get the opportunity to “smoke some weed with John Varvatos,” the designer joked right back: “OK, I’ll throw that in too!”)
After the live auction, country music legend (and OG of celebrity pot consumption) Willie Nelson took to the stage for a mini-concert of sorts, accompanied by sons Lukas and Micah and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, turning out a generous set that started with “Whiskey River” and included crowd favorites “On the Road Again,” “Crazy” and our personal favorite, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”
In addition to the A-listers mentioned above, celebrity supporters on hand included Rachel Zoe (fresh off her Festival of Books appearance the day before) in the Hasbro-sponsored kid’s tent with son Skyler, Romany Malco (“Weeds”), Donald Faison (“Scrubs”), stylist George Kotsiopoulos (“Fashion Police”) and Melina Kanakaredes (“CSI: NY”).
Silent auction items from the 11th annual John Varvatos Stuart House benefit will be up for bid at charitybuzz.com/johnvarvatos through April 23.
Thanks to Phil Weisman, for sending along this photo from his collection of Willie Nelson photos. I love this picture.
Best wishes to Loretta Lynn, born April 14, 1932, in Butcher Holler, Kentucky. Noted for her honest songwriting, she becomes the first woman to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1972, landing in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
Loretta Lynn joins Willie Nelson for a duet on his new album, ‘To All the Girls’.