Archive for April, 2012
by Linda Cain
“Happy birthday, Willie!” reads the huge banner made from bedsheets and hung from the balcony of St. Louis’ Keil Auditorium. It was four days before Willie would turn 45 years young (he was born in Abbott, Texas on April 30, 1933) and the celebrating had already begun.
Willie’s fans throng to the stage, foregoing their $7 – $10 seats to stand for the entire show, just to be near their idol. At his sneakered feet they shower gifts, flowers and hats of all descriptions. A tall man stretches upwards and hands Willie a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. Willie chugs it. The audience hoots and hollers.
Removing his beaded Medicine Man hat, Willie replaces it with a ten-gallon Stetson and elicits unanimous cheers. Someone tosses their own cowboy hat at him. Willie smiles, picks it up, autographs it and hands back the treasure.
Many fans try to stand on each other’s shoulders to climb onstage. Two adoring, denim-clad females actually make it up, on separate occasions. Each time, roadies are forced to interrupt the ladies’ lengthy kisses and tight embraces. In order for the show to continue, the women are literally peeled off Willie.
His reaction? “Oh, I love it,” he admits after the show, while signing autographs for lucky fans who managed to sneak backstage. ‘The girls are the best part,” he adds.
Willie poses for pictures and a teenaged cowboy approaches the stage from below in the empty auditorium He hollers to get Willie’s attention. Willie sees him, smiles and waves. “Hey, Willie! We love you man” is the response.
Willie Nelson loves his fans as much as they love him. The Rollin’ Smoke Review (no kidding, it’s stenciled on their equipment) has been hoping to rent a huge barge, float up and down the Mississippi and pull into harbors for free shows along the way. Lead guitarist Jody Payne came up with the idea and has been trying to put his plan into action with no luck. “There’s just no way,’ he explained. “I was told there would be problems with crowd control. And it would cost too much money.” They are still open for ideas. “We’d really love to do it,” he adds.
Crowd control has become a problem, ever since Willie started packing them in, 80,000 strong, at his annual Austin picnics. This summer, Willie will hold several picnics in different parts of the country to try and spread the good times around a bit. Renowned British guitarist Eric Clapton had expressed a desire to open one of Willie’s picnics, but it is doubtful the two will be able to coordinate schedules, according to Payne.
“The idea of having the picnic goes back to the outdoor country music festivals,” Payne relates. Only now they bring beer and dope instead of just chicken and ribs in their baskets.”
Like their hero, Willie’s fans are known for their partying. “Do you know that every town we’ve been in, for a week solid before Willie’s birthday, they have had a party for us?” Payne announces. Willie’s personal manager and confidant, known to all as “Snake,” joins the birthday talk. “Usually we try to hit Willie with a cake,” explains the tall, slinky sidekick. “We always play Baton Rouge on his birthday. Last year we tried to hit him with a cake the size of a bed. We carried it onstage and were about to heave it at him, but he ran underneath it.”
Payne and I discuss Willie’s interests, which include reincarnation, yoga, martial arts, postive thinking and Edgar Cayce. I jokingly tell him: “Willie seems to be from another world.” Payne wholeheartedly agrees. “Yes, I think he is from another world. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever seen. He really is.” At that moment, Willie climbs aboard.
His presence is taken for granted by the crew, who are busy celebrating his birthday, early. As he slowly heads toward the remaining empty seats at the back of the bus, a joint waved in his path brings him to a halt.
Beginning on April 30, Willie Nelson’s birthday, the fuel at Pacific Biodiesel’s retail pump on Maui will be sold as the trademarked BioWillie Biodiesel. The branding is the brainchild of superstar Willie Nelson, a Maui resident whose involvement in, and support of, community-based biodiesel production began in the islands when his wife Annie bought their first diesel car in 2003 and filled up at Pacific Biodiesel. The Maui biodiesel fuel pump, located at 40 Hobron Avenue in Kahului, is open to the diesel-driving public 24 hours a day.
To celebrate Willie’s birthday, customers who fill up April 30 between 8am and 5:30pm, with a minimum purchase of five gallons will receive a free BioWillie bumper sticker and can enter a drawing to win a Pacific Biodiesel cap autographed by Willie Nelson himself.
Although there had been a previous attempt to use the brand several years ago, a new agreement with Pacific Biodiesel focuses on the fuel quality as well as sustainability aspects. The BioWillie brand specifies that the fuel must meet or exceed standards for biodiesel established by the American Society of Testing and Materials, and that feedstock sources are known and can be confirmed as meeting the best practices described by the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance. In addition, BioWillie Biodiesel must be produced in America, from American feedstock, and used in America within a reasonable region.
Founded in Maui in 1996 by local businessman Robert King, Pacific Biodiesel has built 13 plants in the U.S. and Japan, and is recognized worldwide as a pioneer and advocate for the establishment of sustainable community-based biodiesel. The company was the first to operate a retail biodiesel pump in the U.S. and is the most experienced biodiesel company in America. At this writing, the Pacific Biodiesel pump station in Kahului boasts the least expensive diesel fuel of any retail pump in the County.
Willie Nelson is a founding member of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance and his advocacy for locally produced biodiesel is documented in the film Revolution Green, narrated by actor Woody Harrelson, another Maui resident who drives on biodiesel.
Willie’s mainland tour buses run on biodiesel whenever possible, sourced by the SBA to make sure their feedstock origins are sustainable. Next month Nelson will release Heroes, his first album for Legacy Recordings, which will showcase new songs and deep country classics with guest artists including Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, Sheryl Crow, Jamey Johnson, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson.
Happy Birthday, Willie Nelson!
Some reports show Willie’s birthday as being on the 30th of April, but daughter Lana tells this story. I say, start celebrating early and carry it through the weekend!
“Dad celebrated his birthday on the 29th of April until he was 18 years old and went into the Air Force. He had to finally get a birth certificate and it said he was born on the 30th. Not to argue with the government we celebrated his birthday on the 30th for about 40 years
One day while visiting with his cousin, who was there the night he was born, Mildred said no, he WAS in fact born a few minutes before midnight on the 29th and Dr. Simms didn’t record the birth until after midnight. As it turns out we get TWO days to shower Dad with love and tell him how much he means to us.”
Wow! What a show. Willie Nelson and Family, in Texas on a Saturday night. There’s nothing quite like it. I know I go on and on about Red Rocks, but the Back Yard, on a warm spring evening under the stars — what a great place to see Willie Nelson and Family in concert — surrounded by crazy Texas fans who all love Willie as much as you do. Now that’s a good time!
When you talk to Tim O’Connor, inspiration behind the Back Yard, he talks about creating a place that was natural and comfortable like your own back yard, where friends gather for a good time to listen to music. The new location (further down the road form origial site), is now in it’s third year, and Willie Nelson & Family opened the season, like they have for all the shows at the new location.
Lots of grass, trees, chairs if you want them. He saved existing trees, and when fans complain about their obstructed view of the stage (“The trees are in my way,” I can’t see”), Tim responds, says, “Move over”. It’s a beautiful, natural amphitheater, outside of Austin. The park is full of trees to lean against and sit under. It does have a summer picnic feel to the place.
I don’t know how Willie does it. I’m exhausted and all I did was follow Willie around town, driven by my good friend Janis. With all the press leading up to statue ceremony, then the presentatioin of the statue, by the City of Austin on Friday, in front of thousands of fans and friends and dignataries and donors — where Willie didn’t just sit in the audience and let dignataries and friends talk about how amazing he is, but he also performed two songs with sister Bobbie and Mickey Raphael.
And after that, it was an old fashioned meet-and-greet as Willie worked his way to the bus, and then more photos and autographs at the bus. And then, later that same day, he joined Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Ronnie Dunn and others inside the Moody Theater at the ACL to sing homage to the music of Johnny Cash.
Most would take the rest of the weekend off, but not Willie Nelson. Saturday, he and Bobbie and Mickey Raphael went to the home of Coach Darrell Royall, and where they performed. And then later that same night, Willie Nelson opened the Back Yard, once again.
Paula Nelson and her band, opened the festivities and got everyone in the mood for a good time. Jamey Johnson and his band followed Paula and the guys.
The weather was perfect; just enough breeze to blow long hair around on the stage, and there was some nice long hair up there (Willie, Jamey). Also perfect, we got to stand for the entire show, and use our camers throughout the show. Willie played for a long time, lots of familiar favorites, many surprises. Afterwards, after his busy days, he still he stayed and signed autographs after the show.
Willie Nelson 79th Birthday Celebration on SiriusXM Willie’s Roadhouse Willie’s Roadhouse, SiriusXM 56 Monday, April 30, 2012
American musical treasure Willie Nelson was immortalized in a bronze statue in Austin, Texas last week, and turns 79 years young on Monday, April 30. His exclusive SiriusXM channel Willie’s Roadhouse (SiriusXM 56) will be celebrating all day long with special messages from many of his musical friends, as well as a rebroadcast of the statue unveiling ceremony at 6 pm ET, including Willie’s impromptu live performances of “On the Road Again” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” comments from Kris Kristofferson and sculptor Clete Shields, and an interview with Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Dallas Wayne. Willie’s special day will be capped off with a replay of last weekend’s homecoming concert at the Backyard in Bee Cave, Texas, rebroadcast in its entirety at 10 pm ET.
To sign up, and find out how you can listen tomorrow: www.sirius.com.
Thanks to Cherie for sharing her photos from the Willie Nelson and Family Show in Austing.
Great news for Willie Nelson & Family friends — Budrock Prewitt, lighting director for WN&F, has created a “Willie Nelson’s Crew’s View” page on Facebook. You can find their facebook page here.
Buddy has been sharing his behind-the-scenes stories and photos at www.WillieNelson.com, and you can read previous posts by him at Willie Nelson’s website here.
Buddy has the best collection of Willie Nelson & Family souveniers, posters, back stage passes, tickets, magazines. He shares some of them at his website at www.Budrock.com, and now we can look forward to seeing more at the Crews’ View Face Book Page.
by: Brett Bentley
The Center for the Arts announced late Friday that Willie Nelson & Family will perform at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in September as a benefit concert for The Bear Yuba Land Trust.
“We are beyond excited to present Willie Nelson for the first time in Nevada County,” Center for The Arts Executive Director Julie Baker told The Union. “We could not think of a more perfect artist for our community and the Land Trust Benefit. This will be a huge event for our County and The Center is up for the task!”
Baker said she has worked for the past three years — since she took the helm at the Center — to bring Nelson to Nevada County. In that time, the Center’s staff has made the necessary entertainment relationships, and gained experience with production and expertise as an organization to present such a large act, she said.
“There have been lots of rumors flying around for years about Willie Nelson coming to town. We never want to announce until we have officially confirmed with agents because it can jeopardize our ability to sign the artist,” said Baker.
The concert, which is the largest annual fundraiser for Bear Yuba Land Trust (formerly Nevada County Land Trust), is the 10th event in the Stars concert series. This series has featured multiple Grammy-winning luminaries such as Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, Dr. John, Richie Havens, Leon Russell, Asleep at the Wheel and America.
“We are thrilled to have Willie Nelson perform at our benefit concert this year,” said Marty Coleman-Hunt, executive director of Bear Yuba Land Trust. “Few performers of his renown have dedicated so much of their efforts to supporting the rural quality of life, that we have here in our community.”
Although the fairgrounds can handle a large crowd — such as the 10,000 concert goers the Grateful Dead reportedly drew in September 1983 — Baker said they will limit capacity to ensure a great experience for all.
If ever the words “living legend” were more than just public relations bluster, the application would be appropriate for Nelson. The iconic Texan is the creative genius behind historic recordings like “Crazy,” “Hello Walls,” “Red Headed Stranger” and “Stardust.” His career has spanned six decades. His catalog boasts more than 200 albums. He’s earned every conceivable award and honor to be bestowed a person in his profession. He has also amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor and activist.
Tickets go on sale in mid- to late May for the Sept. 14 concert, Baker said. They will be on sale to Center and Land Trust members first, including early access VIP tickets. All proceeds raised go to the Land Trust, a nonprofit organization supporting voluntary conservation of landscapes and the building of trails in our community.
The Center for the Arts will have a membership drive in May. Those who join or upgrade during that month will be entered in a drawing to win The Center Access Pass, that gives one seat at every show, early entrance at Vet’s Hall shows, sound check and backstage access (with artist approval), or other weekly drawings.
Brett Bentley is the features/entertainment editor at The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (530) 477-4219.