Country Rhythms (September 1981) (UK)

October 20th, 2016

[Thanks so much  to Phil Weisman for gifting me this great magazine from the UK.  The country music magazines always have the best photos.]

Country Rhythms
September 1981

It takes three buses and two trucks to love Willie Nelson and his band and crew around the country for the over 250 performances that Willie gives each year.  But for all it grueling aspects, life on the road never loses that sense of freedom and adventure so important to country musicians like Willie Nelson, who spent much of their early lives yearning to escape from backgrounds of poverty and rural isolation.

These photographs by Michael Abramson, courtesy of Columbia Records, tell the story of Willie’s magic caravan better than worlds could ever do.

Willie Nelson, Connie Nelson and daughters Amy and Paula



As unspoiled by his fantastic success as any one could possibly be, Willie Nelson is always available t his fans after a show.  Although he values his privacy, Willie knows how important it is to maintain personal contact with the people to whom he means so much.


rhythm2_0002 rhythm7

Winners Wear Wrangler

October 20th, 2016

Car owner Richard Childress and his then-driver, Dale Earnhardt, participated in an advertising campaign back promoting Wrangler jeans back in the 1980s that also featured country-music star Willie Nelson.

In the ad, a beaming Nelson, complete with guitar, is flanked on one side by Earnhardt and on the other by Childress underneath the slogan , “Winners wear Wranglers.”

Now, more than 30 years later, Childress can tell why he thinks Nelson was smiling so mightily in the ad.

“I came in from hunting in British Columbia and Dale and I ate at one of those really neat seafood restaurants there,” Childress said Wednesday during a promotional event at Wrangler corporate headquarters. “We got up early the next morning for the photo shoot. Dale and I were sitting there waiting. I was expecting Willie to come out with a cowboy hat and everything.”hat isn’t what happened. And although Childress admitted perhaps he should not have been surprised, what happened next also caught him off-guard.

“He came out with a baseball hat on and wearing a black Member’s Only jacket. That was his disguise back in the day,” Childress said. “So he jumps in the limo and we shake hands. That was the first time I had met him. I’m not sure if it was for Dale.

“But he sat over there and fired up a (marijuana) joint, and started smoking on his joint. He leaned over (as if to offer it to his fellow passengers) and Dale said, ‘No, we’re going to drink some whiskey later.’ But that’s the story behind that photo shoot right there. That’s why he’s smiling.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was just a kid at the time and had no idea any of that was going on.

“Dad had ‘One tough customer’ on the back of the car and they were cross-promoting that with Willie’s tour. So it was a pretty neat deal for me at that age,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I didn’t look at dad as famous or any sort of celebrity. … We were all pretty giddy that Willie Nelson was involved in anything we were doing.”

Apparently, Willie was pretty giddy at the time, too.

Willie Nelson & Family Tour Bus For Sale

October 20th, 2016
  • paulbusy
  • photo:  Nick Simonite
by:  Will Anderson

One of Willie Nelson’s tour buses is back on the market,according to an online ad.


The Craiglist’s post, first noticed by Reddit, says the “Me and Paul” bus, named after Willie Nelson Family Band drummer Paul English, was used to ferry the Red Headed Stranger and his friends around the country for years on tour.

The auction closes Nov. 7. Go to to bid on the vehicle — as of Wednesday afternoon, the top bid was $75,500.


Austinites Taylor Perkins and Michael Tashnick, backed by a group of investors, bought the 1983 Eagle bus in 2014 for $100,000. They had planned to rent it out through their business, Vintage Innovations. But the Craiglists ad indicates the two “have been too busy with work and family and have decided to get the bus on the road again for its next journey.”

Click on the slideshow attached to this story to take a look inside the bus when an Austin Business Journal photographer climbed aboard in 2014.  see more photos here.

The Highwaymen, “Big River”

October 19th, 2016

Willie Nelson & Family – Five Nights in Las Vegas. (Jan 28 – Feb 4)

October 19th, 2016


The Venetian Theatre.
(702) 414-9000
3355 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Tickets can be purchased at any Venetian or Palazzo Box office or by calling 702.414.9000 or 866.641.7469.
by:  Jason Bracelin

Such an extensive catalog of songs demands an extended run of shows to hear them all, and that’s what we’re getting with “Vegas on My Mind,” an exclusive, five-concert engagement from Nelson to take place at The Venetian Theatre from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4.

All the shows will feature a set list and production uniquely designed for Nelson’s Vegas residency.

With 68 studio albums and 27 collaboration records, Nelson will have plenty of material to choose from.

He’s put out 10 records in the past five years alone.

Tickets for Willie Nelson’s “Vegas on My Mind” go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

October 19th, 2016

Willie Nelson Fans at Farm Aid 2016

October 19th, 2016

What can we say? We ?? Willie fans! @willienelsonofficial #williewednesday #FarmAid2016 Photo credit: @due_south_media

Willie Nelson at the Armadillo World Headquarters

October 19th, 2016

Thanks to for sharing his great collection of Willie Nelson posters, pics, pictures, and more.

Top five favorites at Austin City Limits Festival (Willie Nelson #1)

October 19th, 2016


photo:  Cambria Harkey

by: Nathan McVay

As Austin returns back to normal following the 15th annual Austin City Limits Festival, we reflect on our favourite performances of the second weekend of the event. The two-weekender festival continues to stand out as one of the best in the world (read our official recap) and while there were many highlights, here are our top five.

#1 Willie Nelson

I am just as surprised as anyone that this was my favorite set of the festival. Country and bluegrass is not necessarily my bag of music. I haven’t spent nearly enough nights at Saloons and country western bars to be able to say that I am a fan of Willie Nelson music but there was something truly special about Willie’s show Sunday evening.

Willie is perhaps Austin’s favorite son and there isn’t a better representative of this town and everything it stands for than Willie Nelson. So the fact he was slated to play the festival’s biggest stage was hugely appropriate and something many people anticipated all weekend. Before the show the festival ran a video package of several of the bands playing the festival thanking Willie for everything he has done. This automatically gave you an idea of the scope of the significance of this show.

At 83 years old, it is an incredible feat that Willie can play one song live, let alone an entire one hour set. But there WIllie was, standing front and center as the only guitarist and strumming and singing like it was back in the 1950s. He hit on so many of his hits like “On The Road Again”, and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”, and other covers and tributes to his fallen friends.

What made this such an amazing show to be at was realizing the moment and observing the crowd around. Just where I was standing there were kids in their teens singing along with men and women in their 60s and 70s. Looking on the side of the stage, you saw the VIPs and other bands of the festival gathered to take a glimpse of a living legend. Matthew McConaughey, along with his family, stood gleaming and taking pictures the entire show. Members of Mumford and Sons stood watching along with many others. This turned out to be just as seminal and important moment for them as it may have been for Willie himself. This was his home. There were his fans that have supported him for so many decades and there he was at 83, bringing so many people together.

As his show closed, he was joined on stage by probably 40 people including friends, bands and crew members. In this moment it was clear this wasn’t just a concert, it was a celebration of his life and everything he has done. It became clear that this may have meant to him as much as it meant to everyone else. As he wrapped his show, Nelson took several moments to look into the crowd and wave and thank the 100,000 plus in attendance.

The sincerity and the many thanks he was throwing out showed that this meant the world to him as well. Will it be his last time he ever plays ACL? Only time will tell. But for everyone in the crowd and on that stage that Sunday afternoon it was a show they will never forget.

Honourable Mentions

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Die Antwoord
Jack Garratt

To see their other top 5 favorites here.


Willie Nelson & Family & Friends, “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore”

October 19th, 2016

In October of 2007, Willie Nelson hosted the 103th Annual Bad Boy and Bad Girl Lawnmower Race at Luck, Texas, his western town on his ranch property outside of Austin, Texas. Willie invited a few friends to take part in the race, which was filmed as a music video to his song, ‘You Don’t Think I’m Funny Any More.’

Willie’s daughter Paula, his son Micah, former wife Connie Nelson, and friends Johnny Bush, Jessica Simpson, Luke and Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Dan Rather, Scooter Franks, the late and loved Poodie Locke, and a cast of thousands,  starred in the video.




Willie Nelson on guitar

October 19th, 2016


Willie Nelson with Ralph Emery on RFD-TV

October 19th, 2016

Relaxing in his tour bus before Wednesday’s concert, Willie Nelson said he was happy to be back in Branson.”The people here were very nice and they liked our show,” said Nelson, who performed during the 1992 season. “Branson has changed a little bit since then. They used to have only five or six roads back then, and it was kind of hard to get around.”

Nelson gave an afternoon audience a special treat when he sat on the front of the stage with country music deejay Ralph Emery. The interview was the first of a new weekly series RFD-TV will air on Mondays.

Nelson, with his trademark braids hanging to his waist, talked about his Farm Aid benefits.

“Call your representatives and say we need a good farm bill,” he said. “We need to grow alternative fuels to keep us from having to go around the world looking for oil.”

About 2,000 people in the theater erupted into applause. Nelson also thanked the men and women serving in the Middle East. “They have really been put in a hard spot over there, and the quicker we bring them back, the better,” he said.

Also in the audience were several dozen members of the FFA, who had been invited to the concert.

Katie Fisher of Strafford said she appreciated Nelson’s efforts to help farmers.

“Without agriculture, we wouldn’t have anything at all,” she said.

RFD-TV The Theatre is on the west end of the strip in what was formerly the Ray Stevens Theatre. RFD-TV is a television network dedicated to rural America and agriculture. RFD-TV founder and president Patrick Gottsch purchased the 2,000-seat theater last summer.

The network was launched from its headquarters in Omaha, Neb., in December 2000. Gottsch is a former farmer who wanted to provide coverage that was missing for rural residents, he said. The initials stand for Rural Free Delivery, an old name for mail delivery in farming areas.

The theater will produce concerts with well-known talent including Loretta Lynn and Lorrie Morgan in April. They also offer a twice-daily variety show and will operate from March through December, Gottsch said.

“When they go low — we get high.” — Willie Nelson

October 19th, 2016


Willie Nelson & Family in LA (Oct. 19, 2016)

October 19th, 2016


Thanks, Margie Lemons
“Pantages Theatre, Los Angeles. Looks like my Sweetheart is sitting in the catbird seat tonight.”

Trigger and Shakey Graves

October 18th, 2016


photo:  Gary Miller
by: Andy Langer

Screech. Scratch.

Screech. Scratch.

This is not the chorus Alejandro Rose-Garcia, a.k.a. Shakey Graves, expected to fill the room the first time he met Willie Nelson. And he never dreamed those sounds would come from carving his name into Trigger, Willie’s famously battered and autographed Martin N-20 classical guitar. But, indeed, earlier this month, at Willie’s recording studio in Pedernales, Willie handed Rose-Garcia to Trigger and told him, “Go ahead. Take that ballpoint and scratch your name in there.” And so he did.

“Obviously, I’m not worthy,” says Rose-Garcia, a born-and-raised Austinite who supported his critically acclaimed 2014 album, And The War Came, with an almost non-stop two-year run of high-profile festival gigs and sold-out headlining shows in mid-size clubs and theaters across the country. “I’m still trying to process it.”

Rose-Garcia met Willie October 3 as a guest host of Other Voices, an Irish television show often compared to Austin City Limits that recorded a series of episodes last week in Austin at Arlyn Studios and utilized a swath of acts playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival, including Mumford And Sons, Cage The Elephant, and Margo Price. The show’s session with Willie was the only one taped outside of Aryln.

Rose-Garcia says that for as many times as he’d seen pictures of Trigger, he’d never noticed the autographs until Willie handed him the guitar to inspect. But indeed, the signatures carved into the wood are a storied part of a storied guitar. Willie’s been collecting autographs on Trigger for the better part of four decades, ever since Leon Russell asked Willie to sign his guitar. Flattered Russell had asked him, Willie figured a swap was in order and had Russell sign Trigger at the same time. From there the collection grew. As Texas Monthly’s own Michael Hall wrote in a December 2012 profile of Willie’s guitar:

Some were famous musicians—Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson—and others were members of Willie’s band or crew: Paul English, Poodie, Budrock Prewitt, and Tune’n Tom, a.k.a. Tom Hawkins, who had become the guitar’s caretaker on the road, changing strings every three or four gigs and tuning it up. Some signed the guitar in Magic Marker or Sharpie, and their names were soon lost in the blood, sweat, and beers of the nightlife. Others scratched them in with a ballpoint pen but didn’t push deep enough, and their names too slowly faded. Soon Willie lost track of exactly who had signed his guitar.

“I know how it felt when Leon asked,” Willie said backstage last Thursday night at Austin City Limits’ Hall of Fame event. “So I try to pass that feeling along when I meet someone who I think would appreciate it. And Trigger knows I’m not going to hand him to nobody that’s gonna hurt him.”

John Selmen, Willie’s road manager, says prior to Rose-Garcia, the last time somebody signed Trigger was at a April 2013 celebration of Willie’s eightieth birthday. Just before taping CMT Crossroads: Willie Nelson & Friends From Third Man Records at Jack White’s record shop in Nashville, Willie asked both White and singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson to etch their names into the guitar. White’s signature is clearly visible at the very bottom of Trigger’s front side. Rose-Garcia’s now sits above and a few inches to the right—a place Willie chose for him.

Last week, we spoke to Rose-Garcia about the autograph he’d never dreamed of signing:

When did you know you’d be interviewing Willie?

I was in Los Angeles closing a round of shows with Gary Clark Jr. The Greek Theater was our last gig with Gary and my last night of touring for a while. I was supposed to go home after and get back to the drawing board. So it was kind of an emotional night, to end things at the Greek Theater playing with a dude I went to high school with in Austin [both Rose-Garcia and Clark went to Austin High School, a few grades apart]. Meanwhile my manager is there and says the Other Voices people hit us up and someone else was supposed to interview Willie Nelson but had some travel problems and got stuck in Europe. “Can you fly back early?” he asked. I said yes without hesitation.

So I land back in Austin at 1 p.m. the next day, and I’m supposed to start working for Other Voices at 2 p.m. I talked to the director and he said Willie is recording an album right now out at his home studio and we’re not even sure if he’ll talk to us. Nobody likes being busted in on when they’re recording. That’s sacred time. So there was a lot of doubt it would happen. But if it did, I figured I’d ask some questions about Ireland [where Other Voices is broadcast] and get out of there. I was down to fly by the seat of my pants.

Once you’re at Willie’s, he indeed agrees to stop the session and play some songs for the show?

Exactly. And it’s beautiful. Willie is just sitting there, smoking and playing music. His band are all in isolation booths. From our vantage point, the only person you can see in the room and hear is Willie- we’re only hearing his side of the songs. I’ve seen him play live only once—at Luck, on his property—and this time I’m in his space. And from ten feet away I watched him play “Always on My Mind.” It really shook me up. It was a really surreal experience. I love Willie. But I’m not a Willie Nelson historian. I have some albums I really love. But I’ve never gone down the well too far.

Is that because you grew up in Austin? Is it almost a rejection because it’s so expected that Willie would be the soundtrack of your life?

It’s not that at all. It’s that I don’t have to work too hard to listen to Willie Nelson. I feel like if you were from a different place and sought it out, you’d be more encyclopedic. But I have a good grasp on it. I love what he does and what he represents. But then he played “Always On My Mind” and my brain started turning. That song was written before I was born. And Willie’s version is from 1982. To me, it’s always just sort of existed. And it’s never been humanized in that way for me. And here, I’m watching him as an 83-year-old man working in a studio—something I also do for a living—sitting with headphones, a vape pen and a cup of coffee. And people are freaking out around him and he’s completely unphased by it. And here is this song I’ve heard so often in my life, but I’m really listening to it for the first time because he’s right here and I was only hearing his track. It freaked me out. I welled up. And while I’m still dealing with that, my mind and emotions reeling, they pull out a folding chair and put me in a seat next time him. I’ve never interviewed anyone in my life and didn’t know where to start.

He’s good with small talk. And jokes.

He was so easygoing. And so funny. We talked a little about Ireland. The show is taped in Dingle, and we laughed about it being where the berries come from. I think he might have sensed my nervousness, and he asked, “Do you pick?” I said, “Um. I do. A little bit?” With no hesitation he hands me Trigger. I genuinely didn’t feel the urge to touch it. At all. That’s his. But recently, I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan’s classic guitar, the SRV1, on display at the Texas State History Museum. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t care about it. But it’s similar to Trigger in that people have carved their initials in it—it’s a gnarly guitar. A guitar like that at some point stops being a guitar and becomes an artifact. This is that person’s life in a guitar. SRV1 took my breath away. And Trigger was obviously the same thing. I thought to myself, I’m not going to play a song. I don’t even want to handle it. I played really tentatively. And he asked, “What did you say your name was?” I said, “I’m Alejandro. But I play music as Shakey Graves. It’s a little confusing. I played your Fourth of July picnic.” Maybe it rang a bell. Maybe it didn’t. Right about then, I flipped Trigger up and took a minute to look at it. I saw the signatures all over it. So I pointed it out and said,”This is crazy. It feels like a lover’s lane—like Jesse + Francine = Love Forever.” And without hesitation he asks, “Does anyone have a ball point pen.” The room got real quiet real quick.

What’s going on in your head?

Part of me is thinking, ‘please let this go down. Do I have anything in my pocket? Am I maybe carrying a knife?’ I kind of see where this going, but it’s also not really believable A gentleman in the back—a photographer—threw out a ball point pen, Willie caught it, and he turns to me and says, “Scratch your name on in.” And in my head, I’m saying ‘What? No.’ I hesitated and he said, “Find yourself a good spot.” And then he pointed out a piece of real estate. I tried to be ginger and he said, “No. Really get in there. Your really have to scratch at it.” So I drew this little signature I’ve been doing before I was really a musician—a skull with an arrow through it with heart on the end of the arrow. And drew a little S and a G by its side. I said, “You like making people nervous, don’t you?” He laughed.

And yet your name is on Trigger. Forever.

Right after it happened I felt like I was in a car accident—my ears kind of popped. I went outside and couldn’t really fathom what just happened. Freddy, Willie’s nephew and one of the reasons Other Voices was in Austin, told me that kind of thing simply does not happen. He said over and over, “Did you just sign Trigger?”

And you know that at some point Trigger is headed to the Smithsonian. With your name etched in it.

What’s beautiful about the whole things is how illustrative it is of Willie’s generous spirit. And in my own personal sense, I’d really love to have a reason that my name is on that guitar. It makes me want to write something or create something that’s as lasting and enduring as my signature on Trigger. I’d like to be more than a local scratch-mark. But even if I am, I’ve made it, baby. I’d be fine with that.