Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis

April 22nd, 2014


On January 8, 2008, Blue Note Records released, “Two Men With the Blues”

Willie Nelson – vocals and guitar Wynton Marsalis – trumpet and vocals Mickey Raphael – harmonica Walter Blanding – saxophone Dan Nimmer – piano Carlos Henriquez – bass Ali Jackson Jr. – drums

“These songs, heard this way with this group—that’s never been done before. Whatever I’m doing, if you put Wynton and these guys around it, that brings it up to a different level.” – Willie Nelson

A first-time collaboration between two American icons, Willie & Wynton discover common ground in their love of jazz standards & the blues on this sparkling set that brims with spontaneity, congeniality & fun.


Wynton wears crisp suits, reads sheet music and is the musical director of New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. Willie wears crumpled jeans, wings it onstage and runs his concert venue, Willie’s Place, out of a truck stop in Abbott, Texas.

So what exactly do these music legends have in common? The blues, of course. Wynton Marsalis, 46, and Willie Nelson, 75, are the two men on the new CD “Two Men With the Blues,” a live recording culled from two concerts they played at Lincoln Center last year.

“I like playing with Wynton,” says Nelson, “because you know the piano player won’t show up drunk, and whatever comes out of it, it’ll be worth the listen.” They are playing venues including the Hollywood Bowl and “The Tonight Show” between breaks on Nelson’s tour and Marsalis’s Lincoln Center duties. Recently, the two chatted with NEWSWEEK’s Lorraine Ali in Nelson’s second home—his airbrushed, tricked-out tour bus:

ALI: Your collaboration has been described as “a summit meeting between two American icons.”

NELSON: I like the way they put that.

MARSALIS: I’m not an icon, he is.

NELSON: I thought an icon was one of those things on your computer screen. I’m not one of those.

MARSALIS: OK, I say this modestly—this is a historic event. It’s not a big surprise to have Wynton and Willie playing together, but to have this much attention for it, that’s a surprise.

But the attention makes sense: both of you are highly respected, and Willie, you can’t go anywhere without being recognized. NELSON: I’m offended if I don’t get recognized. I say, “Hey, man, don’t you know who I am? Perhaps you didn’t realize.”

MARSALIS: My son always says, “I want to repudiate you, Dad, but nobody knows who you are. When I have to explain who I’m repudiating, it’s not really worth it.”

Willie, I imagine you as an off-the-cuff player, but with Wynton, there’s the whole issue of keeping time. Is that a problem?

NELSON: Well, it’s a little different than when we just go up there and wing it for four hours and play requests. This has to be exactly right, especially because Wynton and the guys are reading off pieces of paper, and I’m just up there trying to remember words. These guys have a lot more to do and think about than I do. For me, it’s a free ride on top of their rhythm and rockin’.

MARSALIS: He’ll come in with a phrase, and we’ll think, “Uh-oh, he ain’t gonna make it fit.” And then he’ll collect it on the back end. It’s like somebody jukin’ or fakin’ on a basketball court. They take you this way, then come back that way. He’ll come in perfectly on key, on time, and we’re, like, “Damn!” It’s so natural and true.

Do you see yourself as an odd couple?

MARSALIS: No. As musicians, we like a lot of the same things.

NELSON:Â Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia.”

MARSALIS: Yeah, that’s right, or “Saturday Night Fish Fry.” See, we came up on the same sounds

Music aside, personality-wise, how is it working together? Is one of you…

NELSON: On drugs?

That’s not exactly where I was going.

MARSALIS: We really follow each other. I think we’re gracious that way. There’s no crazy soloing over one another.

NELSON: We [Nelson and his harmonica player] can’t play anything more than they [Marsalis and his quartet] can play. There’s only so many chords, and they know ‘em better than we do. Honestly, I don’t read music that well. Or I don’t read well enough to hurt my playing, as the old joke goes.

MARSALIS: And it’s not like we need to translate. We’re coming from the same American experience. The songs he picked to play,”Bright Lights, Big City,” “Basin Street Blues”we don’t need an arrangement for those. The grooves we play are shuffle grooves, swing. We grew up playing that music. There wasn’t one time where we had to stop and say, “Willie, what do you mean?” We are together.

NELSON: Even though some of us may not look all that together.

I heard you two barely rehearse.

MARSALIS: Willie doesn’t do two or three takes. Just once, and then, “That’s good, gentlemen.” That’s how we play. We record live.

NELSON: If you can play, then what do you want to rehearse for? Just play.

Willie, you still tour like mad. How different are the shows with Wynton?

NELSON: Honestly, it’s a lot easier for me to come out and work with Wynton and his guys, because in my shows I’ll go out and play for two hours or more. With Wynton, they’ve already played for an hour and a half before I come out. I come out and do the last 30 minutes, and all of a sudden I’ve had a great night.

Wynton, was there any sort of intimidation factor in working with a legend like Willie?

MARSALIS: I’ve been around musicians all my life. My daddy was a musician, and we played all kind of gigs. I played with philharmonic orchestras when I was 22 years old. That’s intimidating! This man is natural. He makes you feel at home. When he comes to rehearsal, there’s not 65 people around him, scurrying to make it all right.

NELSON: Send in the dogs to clear the place out first.

MARSALIS: It’s not like that. He’s very approachable.

NELSON: We used to work in clubs where we had to build up the crowd. We’d hop from table to table, have a drink with everybody, hoping they’d show up tomorrow night. By the time you made your rounds you’re about half drunk.

MARSALIS: How could you not love this man?

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Willie played for free

April 22nd, 2014


Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings a the Bull Creek Party Barn, Austin, Texas, 1975.  Photo by Scott Newton

“We had all kinds of parties out there,”  Judy Johnson recalled. “Everybody wanted their party there.  We paid Jerry Jeff Walker $5,000 to play, but Willie played for free.”

by: Michele Chan Santos

On a breezy, quiet hill in Northwest Austin a piece of Austin’s musical history is for sale, along with a luxury home and the landscaped grounds around it.

The Bull Creek Party Barn, as it was known in the 1970s, was the site of concerts by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Janis Joplin, the Lost Gonzo Band and others.

The barn was originally built more than 40 years ago as a gathering place for ranch workers and was part of a huge spread in Long Canyon. In the 1970s, it became a music venue and was rented out for weddings, dances, fraternity parties and concerts.

At the time, the hills around the barn, just south of RM 2222, were empty. Hundreds of people would gather, bathing in nearby Bull Creek, building fires at night, parking vans and trailers in the fields and sprawling on blankets to drink beer and listen to music. The barn’s setting is mentioned in “The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock,” a 1974 book by Jan Reid and Scott Newton about the 1970s music scene in Austin.

The land was owned by Johnson Properties, a real estate company owned by Judy Johnson.  Johnson, who now lives in Dripping Springs, says that the barn and the pastures around it were part of a massive 1,000-acre property. Johnson later sold the property in 250-acre tracts, she said. One tract became the Long Canyon neighborhood (including the barn and fields around it), another two went to other developments, and the final 250 acres went to the City of Austin for a conservation easement.

Today, you can buy the renovated Party Barn, a four-bedroom, 31/2-bathroom house next to the barn and the 1.75 acres around it for $1.1 million. The listing agent for the property, at 6300 Fern Spring Cove, is Clare Moore of Wilson and Goldrick Realtors.

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The 3,000-square-foot barn has a variety of uses in its current form. There is room to park several cars inside. The original stone fireplace sits at one end, and there are large tables made from wine barrels, as well as benches from the original “Austin City Limits” studio. Through the barn doors, you can see a grassy meadow and trees bordering a wet-weather creek.

The barn has a temperature-controlled wine room. On its second story are a storage room, a guest room with a window air-conditioning unit and a full bathroom.

The party barn was not always in such pristine condition.

During the 1980s, the barn fell into disrepair. The lot around it came up for sale (as a regular home site in the Long Canyon neighborhood, which was then being developed), and it looked like the barn would probably be torn down by whoever bought the land.

But Jan and Doug Dwyer of Austin bought the property in the ’80s “because we just fell in love with the setting and the barn,” Jan Dwyer said.

The Dwyers initially planned to renovate the barn and live in it, but when that turned out not to be feasible, they hired architects Charles Willard Moore and Arthur Andersson to design a modern farmhouse that would complement the barn. Moore was an award-winning professor of architecture at the University of Texas, nationally known for his innovative designs. Andersson was responsible for most of the design of the home, with Moore’s input, Jan Dwyer said.

The Dwyers also had the barn “re-skinned,” replacing the wood and restoring the structure to good condition.

The contemporary farmhouse was built in 1994, next to the barn.

In 2001, Kim Britt bought the property — house, barn and land — from the Dwyers. Britt works for Dell Inc. and handles Dell product placement in movies and television.

Britt made improvements, filling the grounds with trees and flowers, fully fencing a large back yard and installing terraced beds.

The house takes advantage of the natural setting. Two of its most attractive spaces are the spacious wraparound porch on the first floor and the second-floor screened porch, both of which overlook the lawn, garden and mini-vineyard. Britt planted cabernet and barbera grapevines, and both types are thriving.

Inside the 3,588-square-foot house, the formal living and formal dining room have oak hardwood floors. There is a first-floor bedroom with a Murphy bed and full bathroom.

The kitchen and family room have farm-style brick floors. The kitchen was remodeled in 2005 and has a granite center island, mosaic tile glass accents in the backsplash, glass-front cabinets and a large amount of storage space. There is a five-burner gas range on the center island.

The second floor holds the master suite, two additional bedrooms and another full bathroom.

The master bedroom has the screened porch next to it, as well as a small sitting room with a window seat. The master bathroom has a claw-foot cast iron tub and a separate shower, as well as a walk-in closet.

The laundry room is also on the second floor.

The house is about 1½ miles from the intersection of Loop 360 and RM 2222. It is in the Austin school district and part of the Long Canyon Homeowners Association.

Britt is selling the property because she plans to move and will be splitting her time between British Columbia and Austin.

Both the barn and house have been wonderful for entertaining, she says. Guests love to visit the barn — many of them attended concerts there, back in the day. Britt has had gatherings of 60 or more people to watch football games inside the barn.

Britt said she loves relaxing on the house’s back porch, seeing “nothing but nature.” And she has fond memories of the parties she has hosted in the barn.

“Everybody loves the party barn,” Britt said. “Fifty friends, dinner and a movie, complete with root beer floats — now that’s a good time.”

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Willie Nelson & Family

April 22nd, 2014


Thanks, Phil Weisman, for finding these cool photos of Willie Nelson & Family.




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Happy Birthday, Roy Orbison

April 22nd, 2014

Ray Orbison performs at Farm Aid 1985.

Roy Orbison was born on April 22, 1936, in Vernon, Texas. A 1987 addition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he reaches the country charts with his solo hit “You Got It” and a duet with Emmylou Harris. His songs “Crying” and “Blue Bayou” also become country hits for Don McLean and Linda Ronstadt, respectively.

Ray Orbison recorded Willie Nelson’s, “Pretty Paper”, in 1963, before Willie Nelson recorded the song. His release climbed to #15 on the US charts. It was his last release in 1970.

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Paula Nelson arrested for possession of marijuana and jailed in Texas overnight; Buy a copy of her new cd, “Under the Influence” to celebrate that her band bailed her out!

April 21st, 2014


Something was off, way way off in the universe yesterday, because Paula Nelson got arrested after a traffic stop in Menard, Texas last night, and charged with possession of marijuana.  It’s a misdemeanor.  Kevin Lance snapped this picture of the officer making Texas safer by handcuffing the sweet Paula Nelson.   Ours is a world gone mad.  Paula spent the night in jail, because I guess in a small town there is no one available to arraign you or set bail at night, and in the morning she bonded out and returned home with her band.

Anyway, I’m not going to dwell or wallow in how mad and sad I feel about the whole thing.  I am going to shake it off by buying another copy of the Paula Nelson Band’s new album, “Under the Influence.”  Join me and turn the bad to good; if you already have a copy, buy a copy for a friend.  Let’s turn this negative yucky incident into something positive.

And high profile arrests like arresting Willie Nelson’s daughter helps the decriminalize marijuana movement, and moves the ball forward towards the goal.  More normal people read about this craziness and think, ‘This is crazy.  Maybe it is time to legalize it.”  But I hate that it is nice people like Paula who have to take one for the team.  :(

I talked to Paula  tonight, she’s in good spirits.  She is sincerely okay and does not want anyone to worry about her.   Her mom was upset, of course, until Paula and Bradley got home safe and sound.   Amy and her dad took it lighter and could laugh about it from the beginning.  Willie told Connie, “Well, she’s going to get a new outfit out of it.”  And when Paula called her mom from the jail, first thing Paula told her, “Well, I got a new outfit out of it. ”

We love you, Paula.

order your copy of Paula Nelson Band’s new album, or any of her earlier albums from cdbaby, here. 



1. Lonesome On’ry and Mean
2. Just to Satisfy You
3. Just Dropped In
4. I Never Cared for You
5. Out in the Woods
6. Water of Love
7. River in the Rain
8. Tell Me Baby
9. Jackson

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April 21st, 2014


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Willie Nelson & Family

April 21st, 2014


Thank you Lane and Katrina, for sharing their great photos from their recent California adventure. Katrina took this sweet photo of Willie with daughter Amy and sons Lukas and Micah, in Carmel.

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Happy birthday, Glen Campbell

April 21st, 2014

Happy birthday, Glen Campbell, born on April 21, 1936 in Delight, Arkansas.

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April 20th, 2014


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April 20th, 2014

Thanks to music loving friend, George Miguel, for sharing this great video on Easter.

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Happy birthday, Buddy Cannon

April 20th, 2014


Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Buddy Cannon

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April 19th, 2014


thanks, Phil Weisman, for finding this photo

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This day in Willie Nelson history: “Stardust” released (4/19/1978)

April 19th, 2014


On April 19, 1978, Columbia Records released Willie Nelson’s album, “Stardust.”

1. Stardust
2. Georgia on My Mind
3. Blue Skies
4. All of Me
5. Unchained Melody
6. September Song
7. On the Sunny Side of the Street
8. Moonlight in Vermont
9. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
10. Someone to Watch over Me
11. Scarlett Ribbons
12. I Can See Clearly Now


by Glen Boyd

Over the short course of the history of popular music (at least as we define it today in the mostly American sense), there are but a handful of artists who stand out as truly iconic figures.

These are those rare artists whose appeal transcends boundaries both artistic and generational. Gershwin, Berlin, Sinatra, and Bennett certainly all fall into this category. A decent argument could be mounted that the likes of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Johnny Cash, and even Bob Dylan as well.

There are unique points in time where a song, an album, or an artist changes the way that the game is played forever. And for my money, Willie Nelson is a guy who did exactly that with his landmark 1978 album Stardust.

In 1977, when Willie first informed the executive brass at Columbia’s country division in Nashville of his intent to record an album of pop standards from the Great American Songbook — produced by Booker T, of “Green Onions” fame with the MGs no less — I can almost imagine their collective gasp of horror.

Willie had already changed the rules once, practically inventing the seventies “outlaw country” genre with his collaborations with fellow malcontent Waylon Jennings, and on his own 1975 classic Red Headed Stranger. But this was something else entirely.

If Willie was already a legend at the time, Stardust would forever cement his status as an icon. The album had a run on the Billboard charts which at the time was simply unprecedented for a country artist. It spent ten and a half years dominating the country charts, and 117 weeks on the Top Pop Albums side. Long before the days of Garth, Kenny, and the rest, this was a feat that was nothing short of astounding. The album is five times platinum, and remains a strong catalog seller to this day.

don’t have to tell you how timeless the music that Willie recorded on this original 1978 classic is. Or at least I shouldn’t have to.

Stardust is worth its weight in gold for Willie’s timeless takes on both the title track and “Unchained Melody” alone. On the latter, Willie strips down the symphonic blast of the version Phil Spector produced for the Righteous Brothers’ classic than it is  to a simple, plaintive sort of plea, anchored by that unremarkable, yet unmistakable voice.

As unique as Willie’s lonely voice is, the sound he gets from that beat up old guitar is likewise unmistakably his own. Willie’s guitar hero, flamenco jazzman Django Reinhardt, would definitely be proud. And while Ray Charles version of “Georgia On My Mind” may be the definitive blueprint, Willie’s take on Stardust comes damned close.

Willie’s visits to the Great American Songbook have remained a recurring theme throughout his career, and on the Stardust (30th Anniversary Legacy Edition), the second disc explores those from the years 1976 to 1990. The highlights here include Willie’s take on Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World,” as well as a trio of standards recorded with the great Leon Russell for the 1979 album One For The Road.

The way Willie Nelson wears his inspirations ” which, outside of country and bluegrass, range from ragtime to rock to jazz to R&B on his sleeve, especially on this seminal album, is what makes this American original the true icon that he is. Seriously, when it comes to Americana, this guy’s face belongs on Mount Rushmore.

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Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real @ Magic City Blues Festival (August 9, 2014)

April 19th, 2014


Lukas Nelson and his band are playing the Magic City Blues Festival with Ben Harper and Charlie Musclewhite in Billings, Montana August 9th. For more information: http://www.magiccityblues.com/

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What Would Willie Do?

April 19th, 2014


“Hey Willie. It’s Kenny. This is hanging in a bar in Key West. Couldn’t resist!!

Love you pal,”

Kenny C

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