It was hard not to hum along and smile ear-to-ear when lawmakers and VIPs packed DC’s Constitution Hall for a special tribute concert honoring Willie Nelson, the 2015 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The honor is a the top national achievement for popular song and is presented each year by the Library of Congress to a musical artist whose music has become an integral part of American culture. Willie Nelson fits the bill without a doubt.
The program for the evening featured a number of top musical performers, all on-hand to pay tribute to the favorite son of Texas and his musical accomplishments over the past five decades. Don Johnson served as host and shared many fond memories of his decades-long friendship with Willie, who has guest starred on all of Johnson’s past TV projects. “Leave it to Willie. Only he can bring together republicans and democrats. You’re gonna have to stay here” quipped Johnson to the united crowd of partisans from both sides of the aisle.
Willie Nelson made his semi-annual stop into Houston on Tuesday night, logging a boisterous set at the Stafford Centre with spunky opener Alyssa Bagley on hand for support. Fans packed the sold-out southwest side venue to see the 82-year-old American icon, but he brought along much more.
On Tuesday night devotees got an additional treat with Nelson’s rocker son Lukas Nelson at his left side on electric guitar. The younger Nelson has been busy in 2015 touring with another icon, Neil Young, in support of the album they recorded together, “The Monsanto Years,” with his own band Promise of the Real. Lukas’ voice is eerily similar his pop’s own in the early ‘70s. They also look alike too, lanky and wooly.
The merch table was busy selling Willie-branded red bandanas, Willie dolls (buyers had to pledge an oath to party with the doll, according to one happy customer), and a deluxe Willie for President in 2016 poster.
Just before 9 p.m. Nelson and his band arrived onstage to thunderous applause and a sea of smartphones, opening (naturally) with “Whiskey River” behind the customary Texas flag, framing Nelson and the players in red, white, and blue light.
A highlight among Nelson’s tried and true standards was Lukas’ slow-burn take on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood,” with his dad and harmonica hero Mickey Raphael taking turns interpreting SRV’s licks.
The elder Nelson was really putting in work with his trusty guitar steed Trigger, keeping up with Lukas’ electric most of the time. Lukas’ touch on his dad’s run of Hank Williams Sr. covers kept the mood rollicking.
Nelson also brought out 1986’s prescient “Living in the Promiseland” for a spin towards the end of the evening. It comes off the album “The Promiseland” from Nelson’s run of unsung mid-‘80s output.
He performed the song last week in the nation’s capital with an expanded band at a ceremony honoring him as the 2015 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Previous honorees include the likes of Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, and Billy Joel.
The song is an ode to immigrants and refugees and awfully timely at this point in American history it seems as sides in the Syrian refugee fight are picked.
As always, Nelson gives us a little sugar with the medicine and the song was followed his modern gospel cut “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and Hank Sr.’s timeless “”I Saw the Light.”
If one needs something to be thankful for in Texas this holiday season, make it Willie Nelson.
photo: Gary Fountain
Read the article and see more photos from Gary Fountain here.
As the U.S. debates the admission of Syrian refugees into the country, the outlaw country musician reminded a Washington, D.C., crowd, including a smattering of lawmakers, to lend a hand to anyone seeking a new life in America.
The entire concert from the DAR Constitution Hall will air on PBS on Jan. 15th.
Annie and Willie Nelson sat in a private box, close to the stage, for the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Concert at DAR Constitution Hall, on November 18, 2015. They watched others perform, and then Willie took the stage and performed at the end of the show.
Paula Nelson joins Dallas Wayne on Wednesdays on Willie’s Roadhouse, on Sirius/XM Radio. Great music, great conversations. Perfect music for the soundtrack of your life, whatever you are doing. I’m baking for Thanksgiving today, and the music is perfect.
Sirius/XM offers so much more than this channel, but it’s the reason I keep subscribing!
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural of Carencro, leader of the band Buckwheat Zydeco, is part of an all-star tribute, “Willie Nelson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.”
Dural performed with music legend Paul Simon at the Nov. 18 tribute, which was recorded at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
The salute to Nelson will air at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 on PBS stations nationwide. The program also will be broadcast at a later date to military men and women across the world on the Armed Forces Network.
The Gershwin Prize is given annually to recognize lifetime achievements of major composers and performers. Previous winners include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney and Billy Joel.
Nelson is the composer of “Funny How Times Slips Away,” “Pretty Paper,” “On the Road Again” and other country standards. On his 1994 CD, “Five Card Stud,” Dural did a duet with Nelson on one of the composer’s early creations, “Man with the Blues.”
Dural said Nelson’s award is “long overdue.”
“He’s a gentleman to the heart,” said Dural. “It don’t get no better than that.
“He’s a master genius and just a wonderful person.”
Dural did “Man with the Blues” with Simon at the tribute, which also included performances by Neil Young, Roseanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Leon Bridges and many others. Don Johnson served as master of ceremonies.
Dural was pleased to be reunited with Simon, another longtime music friend.
photo: Shawn Miller
“We’re family,” said Dural. “You get to know people and you get a different outlook on a person.
“What really makes me respect him is that he really respects what people back here in the South do. He’s a music fanatic.”
The Nelson tribute adds to the long resume for Dural and Buckwheat Zydeco, a Grammy- and Emmy-winning band that started in 1979. The group has shared the stage and studio with Eric Clapton, U2, the Boston Pops Orchestra, B.B. King and other renowned names.
The band performed in the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, which reached a TV audience of 3 billion people. They played at both inaugurations for President Bill Clinton and countless TV shows and commercials.
Dural said after 36 years of worldwide touring, he’s not ready to stop.
“I’d like to keep on doing what I’m doing — making people happy. As long as I can, that’s what I’ll do.
“You always have a younger generation. You have to move with time. Like my good friend El Sido (Sid Williams) says, ‘Wonder where you’re going but don’t forget where you come from.’
“You have to be versatile and that’s what I do. I appreciate the younger generation playing the music today. Don’t let it go. Take it to where you want to take it, but don’t forget where you come from. It brought you here, so why should you leave it.”
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Wllie Nelson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
article and art by Jena Ardell
Willie Nelson’s political proclamation nearly overshadowed the two-day celebration honoring the musician at Gershwin Prize Ceremony last week. Nelson, the 2015 recipient of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, performed a rendition of his 1986 song “Living In the Promised Land” for the first time since 2004.
Before playing the track, he commented on the Syrian refugee debate that’s currently ongoing: “I think this is one of the most appropriate songs that we could do for this period in America. Many years ago, I recorded this song and I felt like this might be a good time to kind of try to bring it back.”
“There was nothing overtly political in the performances, The LA Times reported. “After Nelson delivered the last lyric, “And room for everyone. Living in the Promiseland,” the bipartisan crowd gave him a standing ovation.”
The 82-year-old legend hasn’t let a recent operation keep him ‘laid up’ for long. Nelson recently revealed he had undergone a stem-cell operation to improve his lung health. The operation was cited as the reason he was forced to reschedule the opening dates of his Django and Jimmie Tour with Haggard.
Here are some life lessons from Nelson. Quotation above via npr.org.
John Lennon would have turned 75 years old last month (Oct. 9), and in honor of the late artist’s birthday, AMC will remember the singer in the form of a live show titled Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert. The all-star concert will include performances from A-list artists in all genres to celebrate the icon.
The concert will take place on Dec. 5 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Performers include Willie Nelson, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Aloe Blacc, Brandon Flowers, Peter Frampton, Juanes,Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Steven Tyler, Pat Monahan, Tom Morello, and the Roots. Additional acts are expected to be added to the lineup in the coming weeks.
“It’s beautiful to see so many wonderful and talented musicians come together for this special show to celebrate John’s birthday,” Yoko Ono says in a press release. “John’s art continues to give hope, light and happiness to generations of people everywhere. His belief that each of us can change the world continues to inspire the human race to believe in themselves, and his influence is everlasting in everyone’s hearts as we all share in the possibilities and power of music.”
Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert will be on Dec. 5 at Madison Square Garden, and will air on Sunday, Dec. 19 at 9PM on AMC.
Today we are reminded of the contagious philosophy of Willie Nelson!
“Willie and Neil Young wanted to know more about what was happening with farmers. When they heard that farmers were marching to oppose factory hog farms, Willie grabbed his hat and said, ‘They don’t need to be marching by themselves. I’m going to march with them.’ Willie and Neil headed out of their buses and joined the farmers in protest. As they met with farmers and listened to their stories, the farmers’ faces showed gratitude: They were not alone.”
This guest post was written by Joe Schroeder and David Senter
We’ve both always known that Willie Nelson was a good guy.
Throughout the years, listening to his music, we knew he must be good. But after working with Willie on issues affecting family farmers and having the chance to listen to Willie speak from the Farm Aid stage, we know his character is unquestionable.
He understands the struggle on the ground — the daily economic and political struggle facing so many in the countryside and elsewhere — and he isn’t afraid to take a stance against the powerful and the greedy.
In 1985, Willie realized that, through music, he and several dozen of his artist friends could take a stand and bring attention to the struggle family farmers were facing at the time. Farmers were being forced off their land by the hundreds every day. There were no legal resources available for folks, even though they had legal rights.
Someone needed to take initiative and support their struggle. So he started Farm Aid.
Willie stood up then and he’s still standing with family farmers today.
He often says that he was naïve to think that one concert would be enough to solve the problems facing family farmers. So 30 years later he continues to use the power of music for family farmers through his work with Farm Aid.
Since the farm crisis of the 1980s, Farm Aid keeps confronting new issues. Today, it represents the resilience and creativity of farmers who are facing a deck stacked against them. Farm Aid has given all family farmers the ability to have a voice. Willie has given many of us the strength and inspiration to continue the fight. He understands the fight and he isn’t afraid to join his friends and family farmers on the front lines. That makes a difference to all of us.
Willie Nelson is one of the greatest songwriters in the world. His songs tell his life’s story, which is a story that the average person can relate to. He’s an innovator who brought different strains of music — from gypsy jazz to hippie concept albums — to Nashville, while sustaining his outlaw credibility and genuine southern charm. He honestly represents the best of American music and the grit of rural culture.
And despite his talent, Willie’s humility is second-to-none; he takes time at his concerts to get to know his fans and hear their stories. At the annual Farm Aid concert and when he’s on the road throughout the year, Willie sits down with family farmers to discuss the challenges they are facing. The time he has spent meeting fans for autographs, taking pictures with fans or engaging in conversations is immeasurable. He shows people that they are important and remind them that they are not alone.
One time, before a Farm Aid concert in Tinley Park, Ill., Willie and Neil Young wanted to know more about what was happening with farmers. When they heard that farmers were marching to oppose factory hog farms, Willie grabbed his hat and said, “They don’t need to be marching by themselves. I’m going to march with them.” Willie and Neil headed out of their buses and joined the farmers in protest. As they met with farmers and listened to their stories, the farmers’ faces showed gratitude: They were not alone.
That’s how Willie is. He gets off the bus and stands with his friends.