Ziggy Marley received a grammy tonight for his children’s album, ‘Family Time.’ Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael contributed to this album on the song, “This Train.”
Ziggy Marley received a grammy tonight for his children’s album, ‘Family Time.’ Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael contributed to this album on the song, “This Train.”
by Roger Deitz
As a rule, the value of a vintage guitar accrues with the passage of time — assuming gentle handling and careful maintenance of the instrument. here is an exception to the rule. This N-20 classic guitar, manufactured by C.F. Martin, shows more than minimal wear, yet it is priceless because of it’s integral role in three decades of Willie Nelson music.
Designed by John Huber, the N-20 guitar was introduced to add a more European-style classic guitar to the Martin line. Martin made these “old style” N-20 guitars, which feature a 25.4-inch scale length (just like a dreadnought) and a square peghead, in 1969 and 1970. When the N-20 was first marketed it sold for $475.00.
Completed on January 28, 1969, Nelson’s N-20 has Brazilian rosewood back and sides; later models were made of Indian rosewood. The top is spruce, and both the bridge and fingerboard are ebony. Like all N series guitars, it has a narrow waist, an almost figure eight shape, and a wood marquetry rosette. The braces — mostly spruce, with a few mahogany — are constructed with a modified Bouchet pattern, a fan different than Martin’s modified fan.
Ted Newman Jones of Newman Guitars in Austin did some rebracing around the “second soundhole” of this guitar and added gold machines. By the way, he concurs with Nelson’s cohort Poodie Locke that “the guitar is in dire need of a fret job.” Jones says the fingerboard has a “naturally scalloped appearance” due to excessive play. The extra soundhole, which has become even more pronounced in the ten years since this photo was taken, is Nelson’s innovation, as is a Baldwin electronic pickup. No one can argue; the guitar sounds just fine! Just like Willie Nelson.
Willie Nelson Family Bust in North Carolina
It hit the AP yesterday, so you may have already heard: a handful of members from The Willie Nelson Family were cited before a concert in North Carolina. The charges were for misdemeanor possession of moonshine and marijuana. They were charged and released, but the concert was canceled due to pain in Willie Nelson’s hand from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Now, before you go thinking the reason for cancellation was merely an excuse, let me tell you a few things I personally know about CTS. Stress can cause intense flare-ups: for me it tightens the shoulders and neck. And of course it’s all connected. In fact, in severe CTS your shoulders and neck will sometimes hurt.
Willie did have surgery on his hand a few years back. However, from my own research I have learned that carpal tunnel surgery can be successful only at first. In some cases the symptoms do come back. Additionally, studies have shown marijuana use has benefits for those with neuropathic pain, like carpal tunnel syndrome….and medicinal marijuana is legal in the state of Hawaii, where Nelson has a home.
To the fans in North Carolina and the surrounding states, I want to express my sympathy. Some of you missed an evening of music with an American musical con, along with his closest family and friends. But all North Carolinians have had their tax dollars spent rather irresponsibly by law enforcement officials who were picking on an easy target. Even though he’s a decade younger, Willie is about as dangerous as my dear old grandma.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time The Willie Nelson Family has been the target of overzealous law enforcement. The Honeysuckle Rose IV was stopped and searched in Louisiana in 2006. At that time Willie, his sister Bobbie Nelson, and three of the crew were issued citations. Just last month near El Paso, they were stopped by Border Patrol. The bus was emptied and its inhabitants waited in the cold for hours while it was searched. In this writer’s opinion, that was a waste of the tax money of all Americans.
If nothing else, I hope publicity from these run-ins will garner attention for marijuana decriminalization. Prohibition didn’t work in the last century for alcohol and it doesn’t work now for cannabis. Not only is it futile, but enforcing laws against marijuana is extremely costly. Local and federal governments are spending money when they could instead be making more for our
currently flailing economy through cannabis decriminalization combined with
The road is Willie’s true home and continued harassment will not force him to retire. I think if it came right down to it, he would simply choose to tour those 14 states where medicinal marijuana use is allowed. That might mobilize his fans in the other 36 states to do something. If Willie didn’t feel safe in my home state due to its marijuana laws, I would be inspired to do whatever it took to promote change in those laws. And I would also travel to see him in nearby states where he could safely perform, supporting their local economy rather than my own. We should all take the initiative now and start doing what is within our power to put an end to archaic laws that are doing more harm than good.
I haven’t yet addressed the moonshine. Personal possession of homemade lcohol is nt illegal in all states, and where laws do exist it is mainly because it is “non-tax paid,” as has been the reported issue in this particular case. My theory is that the orth Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) officers seized the moonshine ecause they were grasping at straws when their hopes of a bigger bust were hwarted. But they probably didn’t realize that Willie is a longtime advocate of reen fuels. Did the ALE confiscate a quart jar of hooch that was really intended as ethanol biofuel for the van? (My tongue is firmly in cheek. Laugh if you can, or just ignore the attempt at a joke and keep reading).
God Bless Willie. I’m a young ‘un compared to him and can’t imagine being on the road, jamming nearly every night. It would wear me out fast, and I can’t image what picking a guitar would do to the CTS in my arms. I hope Willie Nelson and Family find time to relax and recuperate on their first 2010 road break, which starts today. And if marijuana helps cure their stress and pain, then far be it from me or anyone else to criticize their use of it.
For more information on marijuana law reform, and to contact the lawmakers in your state, please visit
Crystal, in Missouri
Willie Nelson received three grammy nominations this year. The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California tonight. The awards will be broadcast live on CBS at beginning at 8pm (ET/PT).
Here’s the categories for which Willie was nominated:
BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM
A Swingin’ Christmas, Tony Bennett
Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden, Michael Buble
Your Songs, Harry Connick, Jr.
Liza’s At the Palace, Liza Minnelli
American Classic, Willie Nelson
BEST POP COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS
“Sea of Heartbreak,” Rosanne Cash and Bruce Springsteen
“Love Sex Magic,” Ciara and Justin Timberlake
“Lucky,” Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Willie Nelson and Norah Jones
“Breathe,” Taylor Swift and Colbie Caillat
BEST AMERICANA ALBUM
Together Through Life, Bob Dylan
Electric Dirt, Levon Helm
Willie and the Wheel, Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel
Wilco (The Album), Wilco
Little Honey, Lucinda Williams
Mother Earth News
Farm Aid’s Founder: Willie Nelson
It’s midwinter in Tampa, Florida, and as usual the weather is warm going on stifling. Willie Nelson really needs the air conditioner humming peacefully in his mobile home away from home, the Silver Eagle Honeysuckle Rose.
In his own, quiet, careful way, Willie’s all business today. Waiting in the cool, dark comfort of the bus for the horde of people his presence will draw to town tonight, he’s working hard: poring over snapshots of himself and his sister Bobbie outside the Abbott, Texas, church in which they learned to sing, for the cover of a genuine hard-core Christian mail-order gospel album; making little decisions about the set he and his band of honky-tonk gypsies will play tonight; ordering up a carefully nutritious chicken dinner from the kitchen bus that travels with his five-vehicle caravan, then forgetting to eat it; talking business with little haste or waste of words or energy, on the radio telephone at his elbow.
The business concerns the usual megastar matters — movie promotion, investment opportunities, the touring schedule, a $1.5 million book contract — but also something seemingly out of place in this context: the Farm Aid cause, Mr. Nelson’s foray into public service. Cocooned amid Tampa’s concrete consumerism, the former Bible salesman, and latter-day multimillionaire is taking time to help the family farmers of his country fight back against government policy, big business and the economics of scale.
There is something rather special about Willie Nelson. It was he, after all, who united the rednecks and the hippies and the surburbanites of the 1970s in appreciation of a style of country music considered both archaic and impossibly uncommercial by the Nashville powers-that-were. Likewise his image — a lovely blend of longhair, cowboy, rebel, hardcore party legend and wise old man — is suggestive.
It’s no wonder he’s such an institution. You can look up to some entertainers (Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney), but Willie invites involvement, not distance. The dominant element of his stare — a thoroughly savvy serenity — is mighty trustworthy.
That invitation to trust must have been part of his image all along. Certainly it was during his late teenage years, when he was already trying to get ahead in the world by promoting dance concerts throughout east Texas, earning his percentage from acts like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Milton Brown and the Brownies, Spade Cooley, and the legendary Ernest Tubb while he watched from the wings and learned the ropes. It also impressed the folks in the Nashville big leagues after Willie had decided to forgo his studies for the Baptist ministery in favor of a full-time career in the hillbilly highway nightlife; you need a lot more than even the kind of devasting song-writing talent Willie possessses to become a primary source for the Music Row hit machine the way he did in pretty short order.Â And when eventually his ambitions outstripped what Nashville was willing to offer and he made his legendary end-run around Music Row, his aura so impressed the college hippioes of Austin, texas, that not too long after he’d been among them they began to buy posters proclaiming, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and Willie,” and to enshrine them in their places of fun and meditation.
A Nashville executive describes his experience: “It was amazing, just wonderful,” says the Nashville executive. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Neil Reshen (Willie’s manager) was so bad — I mean, you really wanted to have the man arrested; the secretaries used to run for the bathroom when he showed up. But when you talked to Willie, it was like negotiating with Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and you were so relieved you didn’t have to deal with Neil that you gave Willie whatever he wanted. But, of course, what Neil wanted and what Willie wanted were the same things. They were working the good cop, bad cop routine, the oldest con in the world, but they did it so well you didn’t realize what was going on till it was all over. And by then you’d done a deal you’d never have even dreamed of otherwise. Willie just outplayed me, and he ended up getting what he really deserved. And all that means is he’s smarter than I am. He just has to turn that smile on you, and you’re hooked. But now I take him seriously. He may be beautiful, but he’s not dumb.”
Such a man — with his hard-earned combination of country compassion, common sense and carefully honed business skills – would have been the perfect choice if American farmers had gone looking for a leader in their hour of need. That’s not how it happened, though. It was Willie who went unbidden to the farmers.
September 1985 was when it began, in Champaine, Illinois, as a notion kicked around between Willie and his crew in the wake of Bob Geldof’s Life Aid marathon. As Willie recalls, in the low-to-vanishing key for which he is renowned, “I have no idea how it got started. I was just sitting in the bus….”
Like a large proportion of the projects Willie judges worthy, the 14-hour Farm Aid benefit moved from the idea to action with little further ado. It was set up with minimum fuss and executed with slightly less toll and craziness than usually attends a mammoth outdoor music festival featuring multiple major entertainers. (Which figures. After more than a decade of organizing and hosting his legendary Fourth of July picnics, Willie is perhaps the world’s premier mastermind of such events.) When it was all over — when Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, Alabama, Billy Joel, Kris Kristofferosn, Bon Jovi, Joni Mitchell, Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, John Cougar Mellencamp and some 45 other acts had done their thing and the TV viewers who watched them had sent in their donations — Willie and his crew suddenly found themselves in temporary possession of a great deal of donated money.
That came as something of a shock. “I figured people would respond,” says Willie, “but not nearly as well as they did, and as all that money started rollin’ in, I had to rethink my position. I realized I had to do a lot more than make some calls and go out and sing. My name was attached to that money, so by necessity I had to take responsibility and decide that I would be the one who writes the checks. So that’s what happens, nothing goes out without my signature on it. And so far, I know that every quarter of that money has gone to benefit the family farmer in some way.”
After Farm Aid One in Illinois and Farm Aid Two, held in Austin on the Fourth of July, 1986, the approximate total for which Willie has taken responsibility is $14 million.
And Willie doesn’t just sign the checks, he approves them.
“He makes the final decision,” says Caroline Mugar, the director of Farm Aid (Willie is Chairman of the Board). “We just do the research on what’s going on, who’s doing what where, what they hope to do and how they’ve used the money they’ve already gotten, and we make recommendations. Then Willie decides.”
by Donna Isbell Walker
Willie Nelson tossed aside his black cowboy hat early on in Wednesday night’s show at the Peace center, but he must have stashed it nearby because he kept pulling out songs form somewhere.
Still gong strong after more than two hours on stage, Nelson gave the impression that he just might play all night if they’d let him.
Opening with ‘Whiskey River’ (a song he reprised in the second half of the show), Nelson took his time getting warmed up. The first dozen or so songs, including ‘Crazy’ and ‘Good Hearted Woman,’ kept almost the same mellow tempo.
Later, though, he got things wound up with just about every song you could ever imagine. The show had more of the feel of a loose jam session than a regular concert.
Dressed in black Levi’s and T-shirt; a red, white and blue guitar strap around his neck and his trademark braids cascading down his shoulders, Nelson jumped from song-writer to songwriter. He sampled Kris Kristofferson (‘Me an Bobby McGee,’ ‘Help Me Make it Through the NIght’); Hank Williams (‘Jambalaya’); and Hoagy Carmichael (‘Stardust’).
There were plenty of Nelson’s compositions, (‘On the Road Again,’ ‘Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground’), along with a few blues tunes from his new album, ‘Milk Cow Blues.’ On the latter tunes, he coaxed some wailing blues from his guitar.
Nelson even threw in the classic gospel song ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ and Arlo Guthrie’s ‘City of New Orleans.’ Needless to say, it was an eclectic evening, as befits the singer who crosses genres as easily as most of us change our socks.
Despite his lack of boundaries on musical styles, fans at Wednesday night’s sold-out show said they like him for his sense of who he is.
‘He’s not pretentious,” said Debra Collins of Spartanburg, attending the show with her mother, Shirley Howe. ‘He hasn’t changed the way he sings for modern radio. He’s true to his country roots.”
Gail Muir of Tryon usually listens to classical ;music, but she enjoys Nelson for his songwriting abilities.
“I’m open to music. As ong as it’s good and tells a story. I enjoy it. He does have a way with words.”
Thanks to Mark, from the Willie Nelson Museum in Nashville (www.WillieNelsonMuseum.com) for sending me these pictures:
“Willie’s buddy Kris played the Ryman Auditiorium last night so my wife (Kay) and I went to the show. We had never seen him in a solo show but I was quite impressed. Very understated, he came out with only a guitar, water and a brain full of lyrics. The Ryman was packed and the crowd loved him. He also donated all the proceeds from the show to the Country Music Hall of Fame and continually paid tribute to the accomplishments of many other country artists – he’s a class act.
He’s probably one of the best artists I’ve seen at working the crowd in that type of venue and making everyone feel like it was a special event. Like Willie, Kris comes up with some great one-liners so you always have to pay attention.”
The strong odor of marijuana wafting from the window of a Willie Nelson tour bus led to six members of the country singer’s entourage getting busted in Duplin County for possession of marijuana and three-fourths of a quart of moonshine, law enforcement officials said.
But it was a pain in the country music star’s hand that forced the last-minute cancellation of Thursday night’s concert in Kenansville, not a pain in the neck from having to deal with the drug and alcohol raid an hour before the show.
The 76-year-old singer-songwriter, author, poet and activist has a reputation as a musical outlaw and longtime marijuana smoker. But Nelson was not on the bus where ALE officers found marijuana, rolling papers and a Mason jar almost full of “non-tax-paid alcohol,” or moonshine, according to Ernie Seneca, an Alcohol Law Enforcement spokesman. Seneca didn’t know whether the shine was brewed locally or imported from Texas along with the band.
Bass player Dan Edward “Bee” Spears was on the bus, and the 60-year-old longtime band member from Franklin, Tenn., was one of those cited. The event’s planner and one of his assistants also were cited for trying to interfere with the ALE investigation.
In Duplin County, about 80 miles from the Triangle,13 ALE agents were working with sheriff’s deputies and Kenansville police to police the concert venue, according to Seneca.
It was about 6:40 p.m., a little less than an hour before the show was to begin, that an officer walking past the tour bus “detected a strong odor of marijuana,” Seneca said. The officer got permission to enter the bus, according to Seneca, and then cited the six entourage members.
In addition to the bassist, citations were issued to: Kenneth Koepke, 52, of Burnet, Texas; Robert Allen Lemons, 59, of Spicewood, Texas; Dudley Bishop Prewitt, 59, of Spicewood, Texas; Aaron William Foye, 32, of San Marcos, Texas; and Thomas Ray Hawkins, 54, of Atlantic City, N.J.
“They were released in time for them to go on stage,” Seneca said. He added that the band and crew had been respectful of the officers.
They say others, though, were not thrilled with the incident.
John Duane Vogt, 58, the general manager of the Duplin County Events Center, and Donald Farrior, 50, an assistant from Kenansville, were cited for trying to interfere with the ALE investigation. A complaint was sent to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.
Nelson’s daughter said on the musician’s Web site that Thursday night’s show at the Duplin County Events Center was canceled because his hand hurt too badly to play. The right-handed guitar-picker had carpal tunnel surgery on his left hand in 2004.
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