July 25th, 2017

Micah Nelson, “Particle Kid” — new website, new album, more great music

July 25th, 2017

www.particlekid.com

Micah Nelson/ Particle Kid has a new website, and a new album. Sign up for his newsletter at his site, to keep up on his art and musical creations.

His new album is out now, and available from his website.

Micah is also on Facebook and Twitter @jacmnelson3    

July 25th, 2017

Another Willie Nelson fan, Ed Jurdi, Band of Heathens

July 25th, 2017

www.theboot.com
by: Annie Zaleski

Austin, Texas’ own Band of Heathens are road warriors who have played shows with the Drive-By Truckers, Hayes Carll and Old 97’s — and that’s just in the last few years. Ask vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Ed Jurdi who’s left on his band’s concert wish list, however, and he doesn’t hesitate before answering: Willie Nelson.

“I do want to make that happen,” he says, calling The Boot from (where else?) the road, on the eve of the band’s performance at June’s Mountain Jam. “We’re pretty good friends with Lukas [Nelson], his son — he has a really great band — but we haven’t quite gotten to do a show with Willie yet. We have a lot of friends who have done it, too. So we’re putting our names on a list.”

When told he should pull the Texas card to make that happen, Jurdi laughs: “That’s right,” he says. “Willie’s everyone’s now, though. He’s really a man of all people.”

With the release of January’s Duende, the Band of Heathens are increasingly in the same boat. The record is a distillation of everything that makes the band great; its songs encompass meditative folk-rock (“Keys to the Kingdom,” “Last Minute Man”), bluesy soul (“Sugar Queen,” “Daddy Longlegs”), Wilco-esque pop (“Deep Is Love”), loping twang (“Cracking the Code”) and swaggering rock ‘n’ roll (“Trouble Came Early”). Better still, these disparate songs hang together seamlessly.

“I feel this is the best record we’ve ever made, and I feel like the band is the best that it’s ever been.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Progressive Management

July 25th, 2017

Thanks, Phil Weisman.

Willie Nelson and Ray Charles

July 25th, 2017

Willie Nelson’s, “Always on My Mind” in new Talkmore commercial

July 25th, 2017

www.creativity-online.com
by: Alexandra Jardine

A teenage girl annoys her dad with selfish selfies in a spot for Norwegian low cost mobile brand Talkmore — but could there be an ulterior motive?

The ad, created by Oslo agency Try and directed by Marius Holst of Fantefilm, backed by Willie Nelson’s version of the Elvis song “Always on my Mind,” sees the pink-haired teen photographing herself finishing the family milk and putting the empty carton back in the fridge, being careless with her father’s neatly-arranged records, messing up the garden sprinkler and proudly showing off her untidy room.

Her father is quietly furious, and when it’s time for her to leave home you can see he hasn’t quite forgiven her as they say goodbye at the airport. But as the days go by without a letter, he’s clearly missing her more and more.

Finally, he receives a series of texts that reveal that her selfies were all a ploy — to remind him of her messy habits so he doesn’t miss her too much. It’s made all the more poignant by the music, and the fact that she seems to be in the military — which is perhaps why the parents are anxiously staring at the TV during her absence. The endline reads, “It doesn’t have to cost much to mean much.”

While the selfish-teen-with-a-twist is a story that we’ve seen done before — notably, in Apple’s Emmy-winning 2013 spot “Misunderstood” — this is a well-acted and moving take on the idea.

Willie Nelson, “Crazy: The Demo Sessions”

July 25th, 2017


2003
Sugar Hill

When Willie first got to Nashville he cut some demos for Ray Price and Hal Smith’s publishing company, Pamper Music. Though these cuts were used to pitch songs to artists (including ‘Crazy’ for Patsy Cline) and producers, many weren’t released. These 1960-1966 tracks are raw, real; clearly the work of an artist/songwriter headed for stardom.

This album collects fifteen demos Nelson made of his songs, hoping to persuade other people to sing them. Half were recorded acoustically, half with a crack band, and all have the relaxed mood of a first take — a casual feel that Nelson would pursue for decades. Without a beard or an audience, the young Nelson had already figured out how to be both sly and sad.

  1. Opportunity To Cry
  2. Three Days
  3. Undo The Right
  4. What Do You Think Of Her Now
  5. I’ve Just Destroyed The World
  6. Permanently Lonely
  7. Are You Sure
  8. Darkness On The Face Of The Earth
  9. Things To Remember
  10. A Moment Isn’t Very Long
  11. Crazy
  12. The Local Memory
  13. I Gotta Get Drunk
  14. Something To Think About
  15. I’m Still Here

Willie Nelson art, by Billy Austin

July 25th, 2017

Another beautiful portrait by Billy Austin, from Northern Ireland.

Billy is on Facebook; you can see more of his art there.

 

 

Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson in Tuscaloosa (Oct. 11, 2017)

July 25th, 2017
 
www.al.com
By Ben Flanagan

Country stars Willie Nelson and Jamey Johnson will perform at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on Wednesday, Oct. 11, Red Mountain Entertainment announced early Monday morning.

The show will begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6.

The concert will take place the Wednesday night before the Alabama football team plays Arkansas in Tuscaloosa, which is also homecoming week at the University of Alabama.

All seats are reserved. Tickets will cost $25, $55, $65 and $75. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster or the venue box office.

The 84-year-old Nelson will return to the Amp for the first time since October 2013, when he and the late Merle Haggard performed.

Nelson is a Texas-born country legend, a fixture in the outlaw country subgenre. He’s known for hits like “On the Road Again”, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, and “Pancho and Lefty.”

Johnson is an Enterprise, Ala., native and successful country artist known for albums like “The Dollar,” “That Lonesome Song” and “The Guitar Song.” He’s also written songs for Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson on Retirement

July 25th, 2017

www.People.com
by: Yvonne Juris

Willie Nelson is 84 and he’s not thinking about retiring from music –probably ever.

When asked in an interview on CBS Sunday Morning whether he’s considered hanging up his guitar, the country legend-turned-pot activist scoffed.

“What do you want me to quit? I just play music and a little golf and I don’t wanna give up either one of those!”

He also doesn’t plan on giving up pot, either.

“For myself, it’s good for me,” he said. “It keeps me from going off and doing crazy things. I can relax and play some music and sit around and visit and act like a grown-up, I think.”

In the singer-songwriter’s latest album, God’s Problem Child, the country music star reflects on his life, sometimes using a humorous approach in songs like “Still Not Dead Again.”

In Nelson’s memoir, It’s a Long Story, released in 2015, Nelson charted his adventures and bad boy, wild, freewheeling lifestyle of drugs, women and music. The artist has released at least 110 albums during the course of his long and sensational career.

Nelson lives on a ranch outside Austin, with his fourth wife, Annie. The couple has been married for more than 31 years.

Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, Lukas Nelson

July 25th, 2017

“That Good Ole’ Mountain Dew”, Willie Nelson & Family

July 24th, 2017

Mountain Dew’s Knoxville History
http://www.wbir.com
by:  Jim Matheny

KNOXVILLE – The term “mountain dew” has multiple meanings and origins in Knoxville.  These days, the first thought is likely the popular neon soft drink made by Pepsi.  For most of the 20th century the phrase referred to high-octane clear Appalachian alcohol straight from illegal stills into glass jars without being aged.

“Mountain dew, before the 1940s, was mainly a nickname for liquor.  If you said mountain dew, you meant moonshine,” said historian and author Jack Neely.  “It was a well-understood term.”

Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones, as well as Willie Nelson have all recorded individual renditions of a popular song titled “Mountain Dew.”  The chorus of the song says, “They call it that ole mountain dew, and them that refuse it are few.”

Read entire article here.

The first Farm Aid Concert (September 22, 1985)

July 24th, 2017

“Just got home from Farm Aid 2011…….  .it was a little more together than the first one”
— Budrock “The Illuminator” Prewitt, Lighting Director for Willie Nelson & Family.

What it took to put on the first Farm Aid fundraising concert
by:  Ebet Roberts

Buddy ‘Budrock’ Prewitt has been Willie Nelson’s lighting designer and director since 1977.  He faced an amorphous situation at Farm Aid, in terms of placing and aiming lights in an era before moving head fixtures. “I had no idea where anyone would be standing. And how do you create a lighting design if you don’t know what you’re lighting?” he says. The solution was to wash the stage with white HMI PAR cans hung from the lighting tower above the FOH position.

While Prewitt was hanging lights in the pouring rain in the days before the concert, he was presented with another issue: the CMT video truck said the stage was too dark. The network then brought every piece of lighting they had on their trucks and added it to Prewitt’s matrix, which terminated at the light-control position next to the FOH outpost beneath the lighting towers. “It was so bright on that stage that it didn’t matter what the sun did,” says Prewitt.

The lights were controlled by a UK-made Avolites QM500 console, and despite having only the barest outlines of how the show was going to progress, Prewitt nonetheless painstakingly programmed for washes and transition lighting. When he got to the lighting booth, he saw that the console had been installed at a height that would require him to stand, which was a prospect that he, as the sole lighting director for what would be a 14-hour concert, understandably viewed dimly. He asked the lighting assistant to have the console lowered, and in the process the hapless L2 unplugged the console, causing it to dump memory. “I made him stay up there for the whole show for losing all of my cues,” Prewitt says. But it was a great vantage point from which to watch. “My favourite moment was when Foreigner brought up an entire black gospel chorus to sing behind them. It was just amazing! It all came together at that moment.”</blockquote>
<a href=”http://www.PerformingMusician.com”>www.PerformingMusician.com</a>
by Dan Daley
September 2009

The early 1980s saw an ominous trend building in the USA: massive industrialised farms were converging with the early effects of Reaganomics to create an economic maelstrom for the American family farm. Imagine what’s happening now, only with livestock: foreclosures, impossible credit and bank failures were devastating the Midwest landscape. The bucolic pastures that comprised the American agricultural idyll were suddenly the stuff of headlines and Hollywood, with films like Country (1984) and The River (1984) portraying the American farmer as an endangered species.

At the same time, the roots of what would become known as Americana music were just taking hold. Three of its pioneering practitioners — John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson — joined forces to try to counter the ongoing economic devastation and in 1985 launched Farm Aid, an artist-driven organic charity response from within the music industry.

On 22nd September 1985, the first Farm Aid concert took place in Champaign, Illinois, a sleepy and quintessentially American farming community two hours’ drive south of Chicago. The site was the 75,000-seat football stadium of the University of Illinois, which formed the core of the estimated 80,000 people who came to the one-day event. Those who made it were treated to performances from a genre-bending cast including Mellencamp, Nelson and Young, as well as Bon Jovi, Johnny Cash, the Charlie Daniels Band, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Foreigner, Merle Haggard, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty, Lou Reed and Eddie Van Halen. In all, over 60 artists performed.

<a title=”farmaid_5 by Lindalee99, on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/45431112@N00/6058049968/”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6190/6058049968_4963eb19ce.jpg” alt=”farmaid_5″ width=”500″ height=”331″ /></a>
by: Robert Ebert

Farm Aid would go on to become one of live music’s most enduring franchises — the 22nd Farm Aid concert took place in 2008 in the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. Since that first show, the organisation has raised more than US$30 million in relief for distressed family farms and have actually influenced US legislation, resulting in the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, which is intended to help keep family farms out of foreclosure.
Dodgy logistics

However, back on that cool morning in September of 1985, no one could have known all that. Ron Stern, a principal at Jam Productions in Chicago, was well known as the ‘fixer’ for large live music events. When he arrived in Champaign about two weeks before the event, he saw a disaster waiting to happen. “There was only 100-amp [mains] service at the stadium; not nearly enough to power a whole stage show and a dressing room/backstage complex,” he recalls. Stern called on a wizard electrician he knew, who devised a complicated scheme involving $50,000 worth of generators. But at the same time, Stern continued negotiating with the local grid provider, Chicago Edison, and before the generator farm had to be pulled together he convinced the grid provider to run a high-voltage line and step-down transformer to the site. The cost? $15,000 and letting the four-man Edison crew watch the show for free. “It was a charity event and there was some urgency about the cause, so that gave us some leverage,” he says.

Stern put together a team of veterans of large-scale events, including Rolling Stones production manager Michael Ahearn and Morris Lyda, who managed tours for Genesis and the Blues Brothers. ShowCo, who were at the time the largest SR provider in the US and who also counted Willie Nelson as a client, were brought in for sound. They would need that experience, as the number and stature of artists on the bill grew rapidly. They set up a headquarters in a nearby Ramada Inn motel: Stern with his Mac 512 computer and Ahearn with a Tandy model from Radio Shack. “The Tandy proved to be better at processing the information, so we used that one,” Stern says, and they started trying to fit 60-plus acts into less than 24 hours, with pressure already building from artists’ managers about who would go on when and for how long.
The first solution was to give everyone three songs, regardless of their standing in the star pecking order or the size of their stage plot. But that still left a logistical nightmare of moving the gear of so many artists around and still staying on schedule. So the producers opted for a turntable stage, manufactured by United Product Services in Chicago and manually operated, and further decided to load two or three acts per half of the disk — a mix of bands and solo performers — so that one side would be setting up while those on the other half performed. Robin Magruder, a ShowCo account executive, adds that there was also a ‘C’ stage, located on the main stage’s apron and used for acoustic ‘filler’ acts. “There was barely a moment when there wasn’t any music going,” he recalls.

Buddy ‘Budrock’ Prewitt has been Willie Nelson’s lighting designer and director since 1977.  He faced an amorphous situation at Farm Aid, in terms of placing and aiming lights in an era before moving head fixtures. “I had no idea where anyone would be standing. And how do you create a lighting design if you don’t know what you’re lighting?” he says. The solution was to wash the stage with white HMI PAR cans hung from the lighting tower above the FOH position.

While Prewitt was hanging lights in the pouring rain in the days before the concert, he was presented with another issue: the CMT video truck said the stage was too dark. The network then brought every piece of lighting they had on their trucks and added it to Prewitt’s matrix, which terminated at the light-control position next to the FOH outpost beneath the lighting towers. “It was so bright on that stage that it didn’t matter what the sun did,” says Prewitt.

The lights were controlled by a UK-made Avolites QM500 console, and despite having only the barest outlines of how the show was going to progress, Prewitt nonetheless painstakingly programmed for washes and transition lighting. When he got to the lighting booth, he saw that the console had been installed at a height that would require him to stand, which was a prospect that he, as the sole lighting director for what would be a 14-hour concert, understandably viewed dimly. He asked the lighting assistant to have the console lowered, and in the process the hapless L2 unplugged the console, causing it to dump memory. “I made him stay up there for the whole show for losing all of my cues,” Prewitt says. But it was a great vantage point from which to watch. “My favourite moment was when Foreigner brought up an entire black gospel chorus to sing behind them. It was just amazing! It all came together at that moment.”

<!–more–>

PA providers ShowCo were one of the few touring sound companies of the day who could handle a show of this size (one of the others was Clair Brothers, who would merge with ShowCo in 2000). The system was based around ShowCo’s AX Series system, which comprised three-tiered sets of cabinets (it was fondly known as ‘the refrigerator’ due to its bulk and 500lb-plus weight). These consisted of one enclosure for mid-highs loaded with JBL four-inch-diaphragm compression drivers on JBL 2380 Series, flat-front, bi-radial horns; four horn-loaded, 12-inch JBL E120 speakers and JBL 2402 ‘bullet’ tweeters; and a bass cabinet (in the days before proper subwoofers) fitted with three JBL 2245 18-inch speakers. Crossovers used were ShowCo 1015 and 1016 models. The muscular AX was designed, according to a couple of old ShowCo hands, to win the company more heavy metal tours.

These were stacked stage right and left using chain motors and forklifts, reaching a combined height of 10m or so. M.L. Procise, a ShowCo production supervisor at the show and today Clair Brothers’ Vice President of touring, estimated that there were about 80 cabinets in all, stacked six high and seven wide. The count on the amplifiers is lost to history, but they were 1600W Crown PSA-2 amplifiers for the bass and mids, and Macro-Tech 1200s for the high-range speakers. Monitors, mixed by ShowCo staffers Johnny Roberts and Paul Sontheimer, were ShowCo BFM wedges, along with several ShowCo SS sidefill cabinets, which were flown from the stage’s truss.
The front-of-house mixer line was comprised of three Harrison HM-5 desks. Two were primary mixers, with one being primed to go, as the band before was being mixed by the other. They were flanking a centre HM-5 desk, which was used for announcements, program music, and as a catch bin for extra channels for either of the other two consoles as needed. A Harrison SM-5 desk was sited on stage for monitor mixing. Several acts, however, insisted on bringing their own front-of-house consoles, including Billy Joel, which created a bit of a logjam at the front-of-house position, a shed located about 45m in front of the stage. In racks below the desks were a handful of the cutting-edge outboard processors of the time: the Lexicon 224L stereo reverb, the AMS RMS 16 stereo reverb, the Yamaha SPX90 multi-effects unit, and the Yamaha REV5 and REV7 digital reverbs. Other gear included Dbx 900 limiters, Lexicon Primetime 300 reverbs, Eventide Harmonisers, and the Roland SDE-3000 digital delay.
One of those seated at the Harrison desks was Bruce Jones. He had just come off the Aerosmith Back In The Saddle reunion tour, which was supposed to be his last as a ShowCo staff mixer. “I was ready to go independent and they said, ‘Can you do one last show for us, just a one-day show?’” he recalls. “Then I get out there and it was like, yeah, one day, 50 bands. I never thought it would be this big.”

The rushed nature of the affair created its own working protocols for FOH: the ShowCo mixer would literally split the desk with the artists’ mixers, as Jones did with Don Henley, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty and others. “On Don Henley, for instance, I would take the bass, drums and other rhythm section parts, while his front-of-house mixer, Buford Jones, handled the vocals and guitar solos, which he knew by heart,” Jones remembers. “Halfway through, I asked him if he was OK. I was going to move over and help them set up for the next band, but he said, ‘No! Stay here and keep mixing!’ Everyone needed all the help they could get.”

It was the era before digital consoles with recall, but the sound crew did implement one innovation: they ran a phone line from the stage area to the front-of-house shed with fax machines on either end. “We were faxing the inputs and the stage plots for each act as they were being set up,” says M.L. Procise. “No one had ever done it before, but we had so much information for so many acts that we needed some way to efficiently get that information back and forth. And it worked.” The fax machines may have been optical, but the cabling wasn’t. Two 150ft microphone snakes and a utility 12-pair snake were the lifelines between FOH and the stage.

The CMT network would televise the event live, with their OB van parked outside the stadium and a split from FOH going to it. Ron Stern remembers that this posed its own dangers. “This was the first show that Sammy Hagar would play with Van Halen,” he says. “Sammy could not string two sentences together without using the word ‘f**k’, including on stage, and this was live television from the Midwest. During soundcheck, the television producer came to me and [Van Halen’s] manager and asked if we could tell Sammy to tone it down. We both just laughed. I’m not sure what they showed during Van Halen’s performance, but I know they didn’t put them on the air.”
Let there be light

Mike Wanchic has been John Mellencamp’s guitarist and bandleader since 1976, and like his famous colleague, is a dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner. He was apprehensive enough when he saw the scope of the show and the sheer number of acts. But as he looked at the line-ups, he shook his head. “Van Halen and Dottie West, on the same bill,” he marvels. “And it was the first time I had ever even heard of Bon Jovi. The diversity was incredible!”

Wanchic’s stage setup reflects the simplicity of an earlier era. His three Stratocasters (1957, ‘61 and ‘65) go into a pair of Mesa Boogie MkIII heads and two Mesa Boogie 4 x 12 cabinets loaded with EV M100 speakers. “I’m responsible for the clean-sounding guitar in the band, and that’s the way to get it: straight in,” he says. At that time — and pretty much to this day — he did not use stomp boxes. The Strats all shared a unique modification. James Demeter, a pioneering boutique amplifier designer, added a dummy fourth pickup to the Strats, star-grounding the other three pickups to it and completely eliminating the hum that is the bane of single-coil pickups. “In certain cities and clubs, I would have a heck of a time finding the right direction to face to cut down the hum,” recalls Wanchic, “and you knew there was going to be a massive RF factor at a show like this.” He had the mod done shortly before the event and there was no hum to be heard. The mod was also applied to the clones of his Stratocasters, which Wanchic had made by the Fender Custom Shop.

Mellencamp’s band ended up becoming the house band for several artists, including Bonnie Raitt and John Fogerty, and this show marked the comeback for the former Creedence Clearwater Revival front man, whose Centerfield LP was released the same year. One of the songs on it, ‘Zanz Kant Danz’, was a pointed musical missile aimed at Saul Zaentz, the Fantasy Records chief who Fogerty believed had withheld royalties due him. The song, about a pig that can’t dance but is adept at thievery, drew a litigious response from Zaentz, forcing Fogerty to change the name to ‘Vanz’. But he got his revenge at Farm Aid. “There was a woman with him, from his [new] record label I think,” Wanchic remembers, “and when he did that song, she came out on stage dressed in a pink pig costume and danced. I think John got his point across that day.”
Several of the artists, musicians and crew members from that first Farm Aid have gone on to become regulars at the annual event. The show now is state-of-the-art when it comes to sound and lights, not to mention video. Its veterans look back at that first show like some kind of technical Dunkirk in reverse, getting troops and equipment onto the shore under challenging conditions, never missing a beat. “It changed the nature of the concert business because it made people realise that you could do a benefit on that kind of scale,” says Ron Stern. “You could get artists and managers to cooperate if it was done for the right reasons.”

But the first Farm Aid also created another type of legacy, one that came along at a good time when the music business was careening towards the excesses that would symbolise the era of the hair bands. “We were just naive enough to believe we could get the federal government to change its farm policies,” says Wanchic.
Bruce Jones adds, “I don’t think anyone thought it would be more than just that show at that time, but I think once people realised what had been accomplished, you could see that Farm Aid would be an institution, not just a concert.” 0

In an age before widespread corporate sponsorships, some contributions to the first Farm Aid were little known and practical in nature, but nonetheless greatly appreciated. Don Tyson, America’s biggest chicken processing tycoon, is both a noted philanthropist and a friend of Willie Nelson (there’s a punch line in there somewhere.) Tyson not only helped underwrite Farm Aid’s costs but also sent in trailer-loads of chicken nuggets for staff and crew. “We ate nuggets for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner!” recalls stage manager M.L. Procise. “Lots and lots of chicken.”

Willie Nelson on Guitar

July 24th, 2017

farmaid_4c
by Ebet Roberts