photo: Ben Noey, Jr.
Archive for June, 2013
It was a pleasant Saturday evening on the waterfront in Newport, the packed house positively overjoyed to welcome Willie Nelson and the Family for a night of old time, outlaw country. But while Willie may be more old time than outlaw nowadays, his mere presence is one that demands attention, and his playing continues to be spiritual and very much a force to be reckoned with.
Opening with the familiar chords of “Whiskey River,” the Family launched into a thirty-plus song set that saw nary a pause. Folks hooted and hollered and rushed up front for a picture opportunity, and all was right with things.
The cantina-chorded “Still is Still Moving To Me” came next, and with it the first hints of the brilliant, offbeat phrasing of Willie and the Family. Mickey Raphael’s bursts of melody on harmonica provided some extra punch to carry things home, here and throughout the evening.
Thematic twins “Beer for My Horses” and “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys” were up next, the former a nod to friend Toby Keith; on the latter, Willie gave the crowd the opportunity to carry the chorus.
It is mesmerizing to watch Nelson constantly bend and shift the shape of his own songs, and the way he playfully attacks his trusted old guitar, Trigger— scarred and worn like its player, but similarly, very much on its game. The jazzy trio and rhythmic sway of his familiar “Funny How Time Slips Away” > “Crazy” > “Nightlife” medley served to enlighten those who mistakenly identify Nelson as a country guitarist.
Pianist and older sister Bobbi Nelson is a graceful, matronly presence onstage and younger brother offered her a chance to shine on L. Wolfe Gilbert’s ‘Down Yonder’ from 1921. Her static playing reflects Willie’s jazz tendencies, and had the band completely locked into deep Texas boogie.
The classic “Me and Paul” followed, the song a tale of youthful adventures of Nelson and his longtime drummer and once bodyguard, Paul English, whose stroke from a couple of years ago has him relegated to percussion. For this one, however, he switched with his own brother Billy to take a turn on the snare as Willie recalled the good old and dangerous days.
There are certain folks who, while appreciative of what Willie Nelson has given to music, identify his act nowadays as nostalgic. While that may have some merit, his dexterity is still very much there, and furthermore, Nelson employs the weariness in his voice as a strength, and that rough-around-the-edges approach and the relentlessness of his touring gives things a traveled, honest elegance.
The hits followed (“Georgia on My Mind,” “City of New Orleans,” “You Were Always on My Mind”); the quintet alternating between reflex and reflection. There were nods of old friends, most notably Waylon Jennings’ celebrated “Good Hearted Woman” (on his birthday) and a pair of Hank Williams’ ditties: “Jambalaya” and “Hey Good Lookin’.”
Then there was the new, the Eastern-tinged zen of “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and a cover of Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages” which highlighted both Nelson’s jazz chops and a spacial sensitivity. A rockabilly ode to the great Carl Perkins came quick on the heels with ‘Matchbox’, before the gospel of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and Hank’s “I Saw the Light” were sandwiched around the wry autobiographic rattle of Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”
It was a succinct ninety minutes, but absolutely packed in satisfaction and significance. They may be getting older, but Willie and his crew remain masterful players, and torchbearers of a musical tradition. This is no nostalgia act; this is a grind, and it’s sincere and pure. And on this evening indeed, there was nothing like Newport on a Saturday night.
Willie Nelson seems to have a TV tribute concert thrown in his honor every couple of years. But few have come off as fun and just plain cool as CMT’s “Crossroads: Willie Nelson & Friends From Third Man Records.” At his vintage Nashville record shop, Jack White hosted Willie for his 80th birthday and sang “The Red Headed Stranger.” Other guests included Neil Young, Norah Jones, Leon Russell, Jamey Johnson, Ashley Monroe and Sheryl Crow, who shared Kris Kristofferson’s sage advice: “Don’t try to sing with Willie. Try to sing louder than Willie.” www.cmt.com
by: Dave Thomas
When Ron McKeown took the photo of Leon Russell and Willie Nelson opening Nelson’s inaugural Picnic at sunrise on July 4, 1973, few would have guessed that the pair and the Picnic would be carrying on four decades later.
Shot from behind (and featuring a now-incognito clean-shaven Nelson in a snap-brim cap), you can see the sparseness of the crowd. Only several hundred are there as things get underway. But already they are trickling in from the hills.
You can read the entire article at the Statesman website.
This year, the Farm Aid stage will feature returning favorites and artists joining us for the very first time who we’re sure you’ll love.
Get Your Tickets Starting Friday
Tickets for Farm Aid 2013 will go on sale Friday, June 28, at 10 a.m. EDT. Tickets are available at www.livenation.com, www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets, SPAC’s Box Office, or by phone at 800-745-3000. Ticket prices range from $45 to $150. Find more information at farmaid.org/tickets.
Farm Aid Pre-Sale
Thank you to all the Farm Aid members who participated in our ticket pre-sale. We completely sold out in record time! Your tickets will ship via USPS Priority Mail during the last week of August.
Farm Aid Updates
We’ll be keeping you up to date all summer long with the latest concert news via email and social media. On Facebook, RSVP to the Farm Aid 2013 event to let your friends know where you’ll be on September 21!
by: Jennifer Broome
From Widespread Panic to Barry Manilow the concert calendar at Red Rocks is filled with big names in music. Some like Robert Plant and Willie Nelson have performed at Red Rocks for decades. It is a legendary place for musicians to perform. Acoustically, Red Rocks is near perfect because of the red sandstone. Rolling Stone Magazine recently named it the best amphitheater in the country.
Some of the rocks in the dramatic sandstone monoliths are 250 million years old. You can learn about the geology of Red Rocks and see lists of who has performed there in the Visitor Center. It is free.
The amphitheater sits at an elevation of 6,450 feet and has a seating capacity of 9,450. Red Rocks Amphitheater opened on June 15, 1941. But the earliest concerts were opera in the early 1900s.
Red Rocks Mountain Park is 640 acres and is filled with great hiking and mountain biking trails. For those who brave the heart pounding experience of working out at Red Rocks, the amphitheater is open most days.
In addition to concerts, Red Rocks also hosts Easter Sunrise Service, graduations, special events, and Film on the Rocks. It is the 25th Anniversary of Film on the Rocks this season.
Behind-the-scenes, there are some unusual features like the dressing rooms built around the rocks and there is a tunnel where musicians can sign their name in a living autograph history of who has performed at Red Rocks.
Willie Nelson – Heroes tracklist:
1. “A Horse Called Music”Merle Haggard & Lukas Nelson
2. “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson
3. “That’s All There Is To This Song”
4. “No Place To Fly”Lukas Nelson
5. “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks Of Her” Lukas Nelson
6. “Come On Up To The House”Lukas Nelson & Sheryl Crow
7. “Hero”Billy Joe Shaver, Jamey Johnson
8. “My Window Faces The South”Lukas Nelson
9. “The Sound Of Your Memory”Lukas Nelson
10. “Cold War With You”Lukas Nelson & Ray Price
11. “Just Breathe”Lukas Nelson
12. “My Home In San Antone”Lukas Nelson
13. “Come On Back Jesus”Lukas Nelson & Micah Nelson
14. “The Scientist”
Willie Nelson in Wichita Falls in 1989.
Photo: Ben Noey Jr.
Ben Noey Jr. has been taking pictures of Willie Nelson for over 40 years; See more of Ben Noey, Jr.’s photos here.