Willie Nelson & Family in Amsterdam (concert)

December 13th, 2017

December 12th, 2017

Thanks, Phil Weisman, for sending along this great black and white photo.

Happy Birthday, Kevin Smith

December 12th, 2017

Mardh 26, 2015 Whitewater in New Braunfels,Tx-3665

Happy, happy birthday Kevin Smith, bass player for Willie Nelson & Family.


photo:  Janis Tillerson

Happy birthday to Kevin Smith, bass player for Willie Nelson & Family.




I heart Willie

December 12th, 2017

Another Willie Nelson cover, “I Never Cared for You”, by Alison Krauss

December 12th, 2017

Willie Nelson and Paul English

December 11th, 2017

Willie’s Reserve

December 11th, 2017

Good People Smoke Marijuana: Meet Lauren Gibbs





Meet Lauren Gibbs, from Willie’s Reserve

December 11th, 2017

by: Jeff Siegel

A couple of months ago, in response to the ridiculous comment made by Jeff Sessions, who declared that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” I launched a new series called, Good People Smoke Marijuana.” The intention of this series is to draw attention to regular folks who consume or support the legalization of cannabis—and who are actually good people that deserve some positive recognition. Back in September, I highlighted Native American activist Shelly Wahweotten. This month, I’d like to introduce you to Lauren Gibbs.

Lauren Gibbs is a social media strategist who focuses on cause-related marketing.

In other words, through her company Rise Above Social Strategies, she helps businesses and non-profits that are making the world a better place, fine-tune their social media presence. She’s also the mastermind behind #EndTheSocialCannaBan, which is a watchdog group fighting the social media censorship of cannabis-related businesses and organizations.

Today, I’d like you to meet her.

Lauren Gibbs is a social media strategist who focuses on cause-related marketing.

In other words, through her company Rise Above Social Strategies, she helps businesses and non-profits that are making the world a better place, fine-tune their social media presence. She’s also the mastermind behind #EndTheSocialCannaBan, which is a watchdog group fighting the social media censorship of cannabis-related businesses and organizations.

Today, I’d like you to meet her.

Lauren Gibbs: Ten years of working in the center of American politics taught me that the best ideas don’t win the day—the best stories do. In my four years working for congressmen, I had meetings with hundreds of passionate advocates. Frequently, I could empathize with their causes, but many advocates were not equipped to tell their story in a way that would move lawmakers to champion their cause. I realized that no matter how much research or evidence you have on your side, you need the emotional connection of stories to give a cause momentum.

Once I understood the power of persuasion and storytelling, I switched gears. 

For several years, I worked in communications roles at nonprofits based in the DC area, all focused on education policy reform. During that time, I witnessed the birth of the most influential storytelling medium of our generation: social media. As social platforms emerged in influence, I integrated those tools into my work.

HT: A lot of cannabis companies seem to have a really hard time successfully utilizing various social media platforms. Why do you think that is?

LG: I see a lot of cannabis companies give social media a solid push for three months. Company leadership loses interest when they feel like their efforts aren’t paying off, and social media gets de-prioritized. Social media feels instant, and that tricks people into thinking they don’t need a long-term strategy to build relationships with customers.

The reality is that building a social media community that cheers for your brand is hard work, and it takes years to get it right. I started working with Willie Nelson’s cannabis company a year before the product even launched! The leadership at Willie’s Reserve understood the investment of time and skill that a strong brand demands, and thanks to their willingness to lay the groundwork early, we were able to build a community of fans that showed up as soon as the products debuted.

HT: There’s a new documentary out called Mary Janes: The Women of Weed, which is actually a client of yours. It’s an excellent movie that takes a look at the very important connection between social equity and the cannabis industry. The movie doesn’t glorify or promote drug use. It’s simply an educational documentary. But Facebook wouldn’t allow producers to promote the movie on Facebook. What happened?

LG: I joined the film’s production team to tell a story that could help mainstream America understand the forces for good that exist in the cannabis industry. As any documentary film’s marketing team should, we planned to promote our true story of Mary Janes on Facebook. Unfortunately, ads for the documentary have been and continue to be censored, with the rationale that the “product promotes illegal activity.”

Last year, Facebook blocked the film’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. The decision was reversed after weeks of appeals—the day after the campaign ended. This fall, the film’s trailer was blocked in the critical pre-festival premiere promotion period. Weeks of appeals finally brought a reversal of the censorship—the day after the world premiere! These two instances alone cost the film many thousands of dollars in contributions and millions of lost impressions.

HT: It’s interesting that Facebook is involved in so many worthwhile philanthropic projects, yet won’t support those who are actively doing things to help end the War on Drugs, which has its roots based in racism and violence. Do you think this is because management hasn’t made this connection or do you think this is just a matter of fear? In other words, are companies like Facebook and Instagram simply afraid of doing anything that might “poke the bear”—which in this case is the federal government.

LG: There are really two separate issues here.

First is cannabis commerce. Even if they wanted to support cannabis legalization, Facebook is already under fire for election manipulation. It’s just not an ideal time for a controversial move that would antagonize Jeff Sessions or the Justice Department. Facebook is a business, and I understand that it’s complicated. I dream of a day when dispensaries can use Facebook’s geo-targeting and age restriction technology to market only to adults in legal states who are interested in cannabis. That is smart, responsible marketing. But Facebook is justifiably afraid to regulate advertising for commerce that is not yet federally legal.

Second is cannabis advocacy and education. There is no reason to censor advocacy for cannabis legalization or education about its use. In fact, Facebook’s terms of service explicitly permit users to “advocate for the legality of criminal activities.” Advocates, educators, medical professionals and documentary filmmakers are very likely in compliance with Facebook’s terms. Unfortunately, Facebook’s sloppy enforcement confuses advocacy with commerce, and their inability to distinguish between the two slows down the legalization movement.

HT: As a migraine sufferer, you’ve personally benefited from cannabis. How did you discover cannabis as a treatment?

LG: Migraine attacks became a dominant force in my life around 2006. I spent years being treated by experts, half-living on more than a dozen pharmaceuticals. Despite all the pills and injections I tried, I was never really “better.” I had been a long-time occasional cannabis consumer, and the potential benefits of medical marijuana were finally reaching the mainstream conversation for the first time. When I decided to leave DC, I only considered places with medical marijuana access. I moved to Colorado in 2012, and I got my medical card right away. By 2014, I had become a daily medical marijuana user—and only then did I experience the full medical benefit. That was the year I started my business. Cannabis has been a major force for positive change in my health, career and life.

HT: What was it like being a migraine patient looking for information about medical marijuana?

LG: Almost all neurologists specializing in the field have little or no useful information to share with patients who want to explore medical marijuana. Migraine forums that exist online rarely discuss cannabis as a treatment tool. It took me years of trial and error to find the right cannabis regimen for my migraine condition because there is no information out there.

I hear from someone looking for advice every time I say something publicly about my experience as a migraine patient. As any migraineur will know, the condition is highly individualized, so you’ll need to calibrate a regimen that works for you. I use cannabis daily to manage one of my biggest triggers: stress. I have cut out alcohol completely and have a “chill pill” that grow in my backyard. At the onset of migraine symptoms, I used to take expensive abortives like Mirganol or Imitrex, with very limited success. Now, I rely on a 1:1 THC:CBD combination. CBD alone doesn’t cut it for me, so I rely on a 1:1 THC:CBD combo when I feel symptoms coming on. It’s an effective, natural and affordable abortive. At home, I will vape a 1:1 strain like Cannatonic. And I don’t leave home without my 1:1 distillate oil vape pen. It’s my migraine rescue inhaler. Sublingual tinctures are also a great option.

HT: Maybe if someone high up at Facebook has migraines, they should give you a call.

LG: DM me on Instagram! You can find me @RiseAboveSocial where my business takes a stand for #migraineawareness and medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, the bosses at Facebook and Instagram probably won’t be able to find the info I’m sharing because of their platform’s persistent censorship of cannabis education and even personal stories like mine.

HT: One of your clients is Willie’s Reserve. What’s it like working for one of the most culturally significant cannabis brands in the world?

LG: Willie Nelson has such a storied life, with a long history of speaking out and standing up for what he believes in. When someone trusts you with that story, it is an enormous responsibility. Playing out that personality on social media requires a constant conversation about mapping the brand’s voice around Willie’s legendary values.

Case in point: Meaningful support for the LGBT community requires more than a Pride Month promotion. It means you show up when the LGBT community is under attack. So when transgender troops were under fire from the president last summer, I encouraged Willie’s Reserve to speak up for something we already know their namesake believes in. The company posted a graphic overlaid by the transgender flag with Willie’s famous quote, “If you really want to get along with somebody, let them be themselves.” It is one of the most shared images in the company’s history.


HT: Willie Nelson is clearly a humanitarian, having done so much for the nation’s farmers and the hungry. There are a lot of other folks on your client list, too, who also seem to have a moral objective outside of their core businesses. Do you take these types of things into consideration before accepting new clients?

LG: Corporate social responsibility is a moral imperative, but it’s also great marketing. The market research shows that millennials care where their dollars go. They choose brands that share their values. The success of companies like Toms, Warby Parker and Willie’s Reserve is largely due to the opportunity they offer for customers to feel good about their purchases. That kind of emotional connection inspires brand loyalty, too.

And, on a personal note, I started my own business with the goal of working exclusively with brands that are working to make the world a better place. Yes, it is good marketing strategy, but to put my heart into my work, the work has to align with something in my own heart.

HT: Once the federal prohibition on cannabis is lifted, how will you celebrate?

LG: I’ll play a tune on this guitar I have with Willie Nelson’s signature on it. I don’t know how to play the guitar yet, but I figure I’ve still got a few years to learn.

To learn more about Rise Above Social Strategies’ watchdog campaign for social media censorship of cannabis, #EndTheSocialCannaBan, click HERE.

Willie Nelson, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”

December 11th, 2017

Willie Nelson Pick of the Day, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me

December 11th, 2017

Willie Nelson and Miles Davis

December 11th, 2017

Miles and Willie
by: by Mike Zwerin
28 May 1998

Miles Davis wrote and recorded a tune by the name of “Willie Nelson.” And the Country singer Willie had nothing but praise for Miles.

Before Miles died, they had been rumored to be planning some sort of project together. What did the “Prince of Silence” have in common with the hip white country singer?

They both liked to get stoned in their ways. But the ways were quite different so we’ll discount that.

They had the same manager, Mark Rothbaum, but that was only part of it. They had the same record company. Their albums – Miles’s “We Want Miles” and Willie’s “Always On My Mind” (both CBS) – revealed some deep common denominators: understatement, grainy texture, restrained tension, staying power.

Neither of them made disposable music, their records will be around for a while. And both had their own way of reinventing well-known melodies on their own terms. Nelson’s “Georgia” and Miles’s “If I Were A Bell,” for two examples.

Miles was not the first jazz musician to be influenced by country music. Charlie Parker was a Hank Williams fan. When a friend asked why, he said: “Listen to the stories, man. These cats really know how to tell a story.”

Both Miles and Willie were storytellers. Miles’s’ “Jean-Pierre” is a children’s story without words. And his version of George Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” needs no lyrics to communicate departed love. Willie Nelson sings about the same subject: Once I had a love undyin’, Didn’t keep it up, wasn’t tryin’, Life for me was just one party And then another… And then one night she said, The party’s over…

Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” was on the best-seller list for 23 weeks, his “Greatest Hits” for 48. “In The Jailhouse Now,” with Webb Pierce, was also on the charts. Willie and Miles both recorded often; two or three albums a year. Too often: they tended to compete with their own records.

Each mixed standards with original material. Willie’s album “Always On My Mind” includes Procul Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” and Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Willie’s “Stardust” was not supposed to be a hit, Miles’s version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” either.

Both cultivated an outlaw image. They became superstars by following neither corporate nor aesthetic rules.

Nelson began singing in Texas honky-tonks in the 1950s. He moved to Nashville in the ’60s, but his songs were too hard-edged for the increasingly syrupy country music industry. He could not adapt to Nashville formulas.

Some cowboys thought he was too much of a city slicker with his ponytail and talking about Miles Davis and all. He moved to Austin, Texas, where he and his friend Waylon Jennings (who wrote “Ladies Love Outlaws”) developed a reputation for bringing country music back to its sources.
“Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…”

Waylon Jennings said that his idea of heaven is that after you die you spend eternity in Willie Nelson’s house.

Kris Kristofferson joined the Austin “outlaws,” who wrote and sang about deeply felt subjects – survival, for example. This appealed to hillbillies and hipsters alike. The Outlaws caught on big in the ’70s.

Since he first played with Charlie Parker in 1947, Miles Davis had been changing; always moving into unexplored territory. He once said he was “cursed” by his need for change. The law stayed the same, he changed. He was an outlaw too.

About stage manners. Miles turned his back on the audience and would not play encores. Willie once cancelled a show in Virginia, returning his five-figure advance because the local sheriff threatened to have him arrested if he drank on stage.

During a concert for the inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary, Nelson wore his trademark bandana even though a bandana is a symbol of non-conformity in prison. He also wore a “Nuke the Prisons” T-shirt. And of course he’s the guy who forgot the words to the “Star Spangled Banner” during the 1980 Democratic convention.

Listening to a Miles Davis album, Chet Baker said: “That sure is romantic music.” And it’s true – Miles had in fact never played bebop, cool, fusion or funk. He had always been a flat-out romantic.

Willie too. He finds his romance on the road, singing about it in what is probably his best known song: “On the Roadgain.” (“Goin’ places that I’ve never been/Seein’ things that I may never see again…Makin’ music with my friends…”)

Like true romantics, both of them loved to disappear – Willie on the road, Miles just disappearing. With Byronic waves of their capes, they kept fading into the mists in the middle of some secret, heroic caper. Always to reappear again with new stories to tell.


December 11th, 2017

photo:  Christian Rose

December 11th, 2017

art by Steve Brooks

Willie Nelson’s Message of Hope

December 11th, 2017

Willie Nelson's Message of Hope

"I've never seen worrying about anything change it, so I decided not to do it." —Willie Nelson http://trib.al/JMqproH

Posted by Southern Living on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Willie Nelson’s Message of Hope
Posted by Southern Living

Micah Nelson, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson

December 10th, 2017


The best it gets right here .. back home with Micah and Dad .. check out our new record “Willie and the Boys” .. #mauichristmas