Archive for September, 2016
by: Daniel Clifton
SPICEWOOD — While he worked alongside Willie Nelson for more than three decades as a roadie and then a stage manager, Randall “Poodie” Locke’s real contribution to the world was probably how he helped out young musicians or just anyone who needed a little assistance.
“He just took care of everyone,” said Louie Long, who knew the man simply as Poodie for two decades. “He affected so many people over the years, we just wanted to keep that going.”
Long and several other of Poodie’s friends are keeping that legacy going with Poodie’s Party, set for Saturday, Oct. 1, at Willie Nelson’s Cut-N-Putt. Proceeds go to the Helping Hand of Spicewood Crisis Ministry and the Pedernales and Spicewood fire departments and their auxiliaries.
Poodie joined Nelson’s crew in 1975 as a set-up and load-out man, but he eventually worked his way up to stage manager. He worked with Nelson for 34 years, becoming known as the “King of the Roadies.”
“There were some places I think Poodie was more known than Willie,” Long said with a laugh.
He added that Poodie, who passed away in 2009, helped many an up-and-coming band or musician, either through his venue, Poodie’s Hilltop Roadhouse in Spicewood, as a booking agent, or just as a great supporter of live music.
Poodie, who was once voted the “Prettiest Baby in Waco,” and served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, passed away in May 2009. After his death, Long and several other of Poodie’s friends would gather, play some music, share stories, and just remember the man.
“But then I opened my mouth and said, ‘Let’s go bigger,’” Long recalled.
That led to the creation of Poodie’s Party, aka No Bad Days Music Festival and Golf Tournament, which celebrates its third year this time around. The event features a four-person golf scramble on Willie Nelson’s Cut-N-Putt Golf Course, 807 Paisley Drive in Spicewood (Briarcliff), plus a music festival with quite a lineup.
The golf tournament’s first wave tees off at 9 a.m. with the second wave hitting the nine-hole course at 1 p.m.
The music festival, which is also at Cut-N-Putt, gets going at noon and keeps rolling until 6 p.m.
The golf tournament is limited to 22 teams, or 88 golfers, and often fills up quickly, but you can always check and see if there’s a spot open. The cost is $75 per person.
The music festival is $20 per person with no admission for kids 13 and younger. It’s a BYOB event, but you can also bring a chair.
The musical lineup includes The Troubadillos, Bobby Boyd, Jimmy Lee Jones, Lucas Johnson, Ru Coleman, Andrea Marie, Bad Rodeo, Paul Logan, Extreme Heat, and the Peterson Brothers.
Long said several of the acts, such as The Troubadillos, Bobby Boyd, and Jimmy Lee Jones, have performed at the previous two festivals, but he does that on purpose because of those musicians’ connection with Poodie. Long himself is a member of The Troubadillos.
But keeping to Poodie’s mission of helping promising musicians, the lineup features several younger ones such as the Peterson Brothers out of Austin and Lucas Johnson of Spicewood.
“You’re hearing a lot about Lucas (Johnson) right now,” Long said. “That’s because he’s good. He’s going somewhere.”
All the musicians donate their time for the event.
“They’re doing it to honor Poodie and (the donations are) in Poodie’s name,” Long added. “He was quite a guy, and people … want to help out when they hear about this event and what it’s for.”
Last year, Poodie’s Party raised enough money that organizers donated $3,500 to Spicewood Elementary School for the purchase of musical instruments and $3,500 to Helping Hand of Spicewood Crisis Ministry, which assists area residents who are going through difficult times. This year, along with the ministry, organizers are adding Pedernales and Spicewood fire departments and first responders along with their auxiliaries to the recipients.
“We keep it local,” Long added.
Though it’s only in its third year, Long said he and the other organizers (B.B. Morse, Bill Crow, and Bill Noble) plan to keep it going.
“We’re looking for many, many more years,” Long said. “We want to remember Poodie, but he was always so giving, and this is a way we can keep giving back to the community in his name.”
Go to poodiesparty.com or look up Poodie’s Party on Facebook for more information.
(Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)
by Michael Corcoran
She had done whatever it took to raise three sons alone after their father died in an automobile accident in 1961. She demonstrated organs for Hammond, taught at J.R. Reed Music on Congress Avenue and at night played elegant solo piano at local lounges and restaurants.
But what Bobbie Nelson really hungered for, especially after her boys had grown up and moved out by the early 1970s, was to play again with her brother Willie. The pair had forged an undeniable musical bond since she was 6 and Willie was 4 and their grandparents showed them the chords to “The Great Speckled Bird.”
Then one day in early 1973, Bobbie got a call from Willie, summoning her to New York to play piano on his gospel album “The Troublemaker.” Willie had just signed a deal with Atlantic Records that gave him the creative control, including choice of session players, that had been denied him in Nashville.
So at age 42, empty-nester Bobbie Nelson took her very first airplane flight and embarked on a glorious musical journey that is still en route. Willie and “Sister Bobbie,” as she’s known in the extended Nelson family, have been musical partners for an incredible 70 years.
“There’s just no way to explain how lucky I am to have a good musician in the family,” Willie Nelson said last week from the tour bus he shares with his sister. “Whenever I’ve needed a piano player, I’ve had Sister Bobbie right there.”
While Brother Willie has become a major music icon, as instantly recognizable as anyone on the planet, Sister Bobbie has happily remained in the shadow, except for the one spotlight turn â€” usually “Down Yonder” from “Red-Headed Stranger” â€” she gets at each Willie Nelson and the Family concert. “I’ve always been very shy,” said Bobbie. “I sang a little when we were kids, mostly in church. But Willie had such a beautiful voice. I’d always tell him, ‘you sing, Willie, and I’ll play the piano.’ ”
This week, 76-year-old Bobbie stepped out of the background with her first solo album, “Audiobiography,” titled so because it’s the story of her life through the songs she’s played. “I’ve always expressed myself best through music,” she said recently at the Pedernales recording studio owned by her son Freddy Fletcher. “I remember when I got my first piano. I thought, ‘I’ll never be lonely again.’ ”
Not that there weren’t painfully trying times in the devout Christian’s life. She lost two of her three sons, Michael to leukemia and Randy in a car crash, in a six-month period in 1989. “Me and my three boys grew up together, and we had so much fun … and then to lose two of your three babies, well, it’s something you never get over,” Bobbie said. “It taught me to never take life for granted.” Another reminder came in March, when Bobbie underwent heart surgery to insert a pacemaker.
“I’ve never been so happy as this past April 15,” Bobbie said with a smile as radiant as Willie’s. “That’s when I flew to L.A. and joined up with the band. It’s just the most wonderful therapy in the world to play with Willie.” She said that sometimes when she’s away from Willie for more than a couple weeks, she gets a cold and feels worn down.
“Audiobiography” contains 10 piano instrumentals, bookended by a pair of Willie Nelson originals. It’s just Willie and Bobbie on those two new tunes, just like on their tour bus, where Bobbie slides a keyboard from the bottom of an adjoining bunk and Willie pulls out a guitar whenever inspiration hits. Even after two and a half hours on stage, the brother and sister â€” whose ages add to 150 â€” will often play gospel standards or work out new songs on the Honeysuckle Rose IV bus as it hurtles through the deep darkness between gigs.
It will also be just Willie and Bobbie on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday and “The Tonight Show” Wednesday, as the younger brother has pledged to promote his sister’s album however he can. “It’s long overdue,” Willie said. “Whenever our band plays, Sister Bobbie is the best musician on the stage.”
Bobbie Lee, born on the first day of 1931, and Willie Hugh, born April 30, 1933, were children of the Depression. Their biological parents were a pair of married teenagers who had recently moved from Arkansas to Abbott, a farming community about 70 miles south of Dallas. But Bobbie and Willie were raised by their paternal grandparents, whom they called Mama and Daddy.
“Daddy Nelson was the sweetest person I’ve ever known,” Bobbie said. “He had the most gorgeous tenor voice.” A proficient player of stringed instruments, Daddy Nelson taught Willie how to play guitar, while Mama Nelson, who lived to be in her 90s, showed Bobbie how to play piano. “It was just so amazing to us that I could play one part and Willie could play another and together we had a song. We’d look at each other and our eyes would light up.”
After Daddy Nelson died when Willie was 7 and Bobbie was 9, the brother and sister took to tunes, both spiritual and secular, to soothe their sorrow. “Playing music made us realize that there was something bigger out there, something more than human life,” she said.
They played together for hours every day, and on Sundays they played and sang at the Abbott Methodist Church (which Willie bought in July 2006 when he heard prospective buyers had planned to move it to another town). Bobbie, who could read music at age 6, also played at other churches in the area. When she was 16, she met 21-year-old ex-GI Bud Fletcher at a revival at Vaughn Methodist Church, near Hillsboro. The couple married a few months later, while Bobbie was a senior at Abbott High. “I’d kiss my husband goodbye every morning then get on the school bus,” she recalled.
Seeing so much talent in his new bride and the brother she called “Hughtie,” Fletcher organized a western swing dance band around them â€” Bud Fletcher and the Texans. A non-musician in the beginning, Fletcher took on the role of emcee, adding a Bob Willsian “Ah-HA” to hot solos, introducing band members and pumping up the crowd. He eventually learned to play bass fiddle and then the drums.
“Bud was one of those outgoing guys who could talk to anyone,” Bobbie said. “And he was a fabulous dancer.”
Bobbie became pregnant with Randy when she was 19; by age 23 she had three sons and was still playing in her husband’s band. But too many nights in a roadhouse were wearing Fletcher down. “Bud was a great person and we loved each other very much, but he was having a rough time,” she said. “That’s why, to this day, I hate alcohol. I’m so glad Willie doesn’t drink anymore.”
The young parents of three small boys also had very little money. In 1955, Bud’s parents went to court to get custody of Randy, Michael and Freddy and won. “Bud’s father was the road commissioner of Hill County and had a lot of influence,” Bobbie said. “They tried to portray me as unfit because I played honky tonk piano. It just broke my heart.”
Bobbie said she had a nervous breakdown after losing her children.
“The Fletchers hated the Nelsons,” said Freddy Fletcher. “They looked down on musicians and blamed my mother for getting my father involved, when in reality it was his idea to start a band.”
After she gave up the nightlife, took bookkeeping courses and got a job with the Hammond organ company in Fort Worth, Bobbie got her sons back after a year with their grandparents. She later divorced Fletcher and remarried, but that union ended in divorce after a few years, as did her third and final marriage in the late 1960s.
While Bobbie’s life revolved around her three sons, Willie had hit the jackpot as a Nashville songwriter. In 1961, three of his compositions were big country hits: “Hello Walls” by Faron Young, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and “Funny How Time Slips Away” by Billy Walker.
“I was just so proud of him,” Bobbie said. “People got tired of hearing me say ‘my brother Willie wrote that one’ whenever one of his songs came on the radio.”
It was Bobbie, not Willie, who moved to Austin first. She came down from Fort Worth in 1965 to demonstrate a Hammond organ for the El Chico restaurant set to open at the spanking new Hancock Center. Impressed by her interpretations of such standards as “Stardust” and “Laura,” as well as her boogie-woogie and swing numbers, the owners offered Bobbie a job playing nightly. She later opened the Chariot Inn in North Austin and played regularly at the Lakeway Inn.
“When Willie called me (in 1973) to come to New York, I was ready,” Bobbie said. “I was always playing the piano, using music to survive, so I never got rusty.”
Although Willie and producer Arif Mardin had blocked out five days at Atlantic studio, Bobbie would be needed only the first day, when “The Troublemaker” was knocked out in ten hours. The next day, Willie was back with his band to record what would become “Shotgun Willie.” Bobbie had planned to do some shopping and then head home to Austin. “They must’ve missed me,” Bobbie said, “because when I stopped by the studio the next day, Willie asked me to stick around and play the piano some more.” Sister Bobbie has been with the Family ever since.
Willie said there’s an instinctive connection between him and his sister that he doesn’t feel with any other musician. “She knows what I’m going to do even before I do sometimes,” he said with a laugh.
In 1976, Willie bought Bobbie an $85,000 Bosendorfer grand piano like the one she played on “Red Headed Stranger.” But when IRS agents seized Willie’s property in 1990 to help satisfy a $16.7 million tax lien, Bobbie’s piano was among the Pedernales studio contents auctioned off.
Friends of the Nelsons bought the Bosendorfer and gave it back to Bobbie. It’s the piano she plays so exquisitely on “Audiobiography” and all of Willie’s records.
The brother and sister have never had an argument, Bobbie said, even after she was awakened by police in Louisiana in September 2006 and charged, with Willie and three others, with possession of a pound and a half of marijuana and three ounces of psychedelic mushrooms. The prim and proper churchgoer has never used drugs, but since they were found on the bus she was traveling in, Bobbie was cited with the others. “All I knew was that if Willie was going to jail, they’d have to take me to jail, too,” she said. But Willie and company were issued only misdemeanor citations and sent on their way.
In the mid-70s, when “Red Headed Stranger” hit and the parties and groupies got crazy, Bobbie didn’t ride with Willie and the band but flew to gigs and stayed in hotels. But she’s traveled with Willie since 1983 and has learned to tolerate the ever-present illegal perfume.
“I think he smokes (marijuana) too much,” Bobbie said, “but that’s just because I’m worried about his health.” Willie said his sister’s physical well-being is also foremost in his mind. “We were all very concerned (in March), but she has great doctors and they caught the problem early,” he said.
If any two people deserve to live forever, they are Bobbie and Willie Nelson, who have filled the air with beautiful music and helped whomever they could. But one day, one of them will have to go on without the other, a prospect neither Willie nor Bobbie wants to face.
“Every day is so precious,” Bobbie said. “Every time I play with Willie is a gift. We are just so blessed to be still doing what we’re doing after all these years.”
In a small Texas town in the 1930s, a 6-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother learned the power and magic of making music together. And they’ve been doing it ever since.
Willie Nelson will appear on the Jimmy Fallon tomorrow night, Friday, September 30th, according to his FaceBook Page. This picture is from his appearance with Lukas Nelson in 2012. They performed “Just Breathe” together.
Check your local listings.
Willie Nelson smiles moments after the unveiling of his statue on West 2nd Street, also known as Willie Nelson Boulevard, on Friday April 20, 2012. The statue was created by Philadelphia artist Clete Shields, and given to the city by the nonprofit Capital Area Statues Inc. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
by: Peter Blackstock
Walk the streets of Austin, and sooner or later you’ll encounter Willie Nelson. Visions of our city’s greatest living icon pop up all over town, from SoCo to the Drag to the Red River District to, well, of course, the stretch of Second Street now known as Willie Nelson Boulevard. Recent new murals that have popped up this year gave us an idea to send photographer Jay Janner on a mission to photograph as many artistic renderings of Willie as we could find. The statue in front of ACL Live is probably the most impressive landmark, but it’s just one of many. The captions tell the stories of these indelible works, which help to ensure that the Red Headed Stranger will always remain familiar in Austin. Willie joins the Austin City Limits Music Festival party next weekend, helping to close out the festival on Oct. 9.
Austin artist Samson Barboza paints a mural of Willie Nelson at Bluebonnet Studios, which is under construction on South Lamar Boulevard, on Tuesday September 27, 2016. “When you think of Texas heroes one of the guys you think of is Willie Nelson.”, Barboza said. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A 60-foot-by-20-foot mural of Willie Nelson towers over fest goers during South by Southwest March 19, 2016. Austin artist Wiley Ross completed the mural in February 2016 on the building on East 7th Street at Neches Street. “Willie embodies the spirit of Austin,” says Ross, who has painted several Austin murals including a one on Manchaca Road and Lamar Boulevard. “We wanted to honor Willie and give back to Austin.” After securing permission from building owners, Ross says he spent 80 hours over six continuous days working on the mural in order to complete it before the Heart of Texas Rockfest on March 16-19, which also coincides with South by Southwest. The giant portrait of Nelson will serve as a backdrop for the rock festival. “My favorite part of the mural is that anywhere you go, Willie’s eyes follow you,” Ross says. “It’s like he’s watching over downtown Austin.” JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Mural artists Tom Bauman, top, and Kerry Awn apply anti-graffiti sealant to their 1974 “Austintatious” mural at the 23rd Street Market during a restoration project on Tuesday June 24, 2014. Willie Nelson can be seen standing next to a red pickup in the bottom left corner. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A two-dimensional cutout of Willie Nelson looks down on Guadalupe Street from a balcony at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, home of “Austin City Limits,” Monday September 12, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Willie Nelson, with his guitar Trigger, stands next to a red pickup in this small detail of the ‘Austintatious’ mural, which was created at the 23rd Street Renaissance Market in 1974 by artists Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner. Photographed July 14, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The “Willie Nelson For President” mural on STAG Provisions for Men was painted by Joe Swec from a drawing by Jacqui Oakley and a design by Erick Montes. Photographed Thursday July 14, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A portrait of Willie Nelson in the alley behind La Zona Rosa commemorates his April 22, 1995 concert at the defunct live music venue. This Willie portrait is part of the larger La Zona Rosa Musicians mural painted by Joe Swec from drawings by artist Jacqui Oakley of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Photographed on September 11, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Willie Nelson watches over the Drag on September 11, 2016. Willie is one of several musicians depicted in a series of portraits by Austin graffiti artist Frederico Archuleta on the old Varsity Theater/Tower Records building. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Read article and seethe art:
Artist Sam Barboza stands beside his painting of Willie Nelson, at the new Blue Bonnet studios off South Lamar, in Austin, Texas. The new community is designed for low income single adults and musicians.
“The first Farm Aid sparked a 31-year effort to put power back into the hands of family farmers and all of us who eat. We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s clear we aren’t done yet. Family farmers still aren’t getting a fair shake. We need to keep coming together to help each other and find solutions.” — Willie Nelson
Farm Aid 2016 brought 20,000 fans together just outside the nation’s capital to celebrate ground-breaking, cooperative approaches to overcoming barriers to a family farm system of agriculture. At the same time, as dairy farmers and other commodity producers struggle with the consequences of record low prices, Farm Aid says family farmers need a broad coalition of partners to stand with them and collaborate to surmount the many obstacles that are forcing them off the land.
The music on the stage featured Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, along with Alabama Shakes, Sturgill Simpson, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Jamey Johnson with a special guest appearance by Alison Krauss and many more.
See more photos, videos, and read about the good work of Farm Aid:
Budrock took this picture of Kenny. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sitting down before.
Happy birthday to Willie Nelson and Family members Kenny Koepke and Tony Sizemore. We get to see Kenny on stage before shows, getting ready for the shows. Tony Sizemore, drives the bus and we never see him. Thanks, guys, for all your hard work, so we fans can enjoy seeing Willie Nelson & Family.
Tony during his spare time, supporting his candidate for president.
Thanks to Kevin Smith for sharing this cool photo of Kenny with Budrock.
Tony has driven or Willie Nelson and Family for going on 30 years.
Jack Calhoun started Florida Coach over 30 years ago. He started building Tour Coaches out of a love of music and the desire to provide touring artists with a level of comfort, style, and reliability that was unavailable at that time.
Florida Coach is still owned solely by Jack and is now headed by his son Caleb Calhoun. Florida Coach continues to set the standard by which others are judged into the new millennium.
With the introduction of a brand new fleet of Prevost H3-45 VIP’s, XLII Entertainer’s and MCI J Models Florida Coach remains a leader and innovator in the Tour Coach industry. Florida Coach has introduced features such as bunk windows and roomier floor plans that other companies are still trying to implement.
Florida Coach is one of the few Tour Coach companies that are Owner Operated. We don’t answer to shareholders or a board of directors. When you call us, you know whom you are dealing with.
As an example of our dedication to keeping our fleet in great condition and our customers happy, you might have seen an episode of VH-1’s “Firsts”. Florida Coach has provided buses for Willie Nelson for 30 Years and recently, one of Willie’s buses passed the Million Mile Mark. It is the first time in the industry that One Bus, on One Tour, with One Driver (Our own Tony Sizemore) has logged over one million miles!
Florida Coach maintains a fleet of over 50 buses, years of experience has taught us that this is the optimum number to maintain a highly reliable fleet and to be able to offer our clients the best drivers available. We firmly believe that you can’t be the largest Tour Coach provider while being the best.
We spare no expense on immediate repairs. Interiors are updated as soon as they are needed, something a lot of our competitors fail to do. We work hard to satisfy our customers so their tours can be as pleasurable as possible.
Budrock sent this addendum:
This Bus was originally the Band Bus, then became the Smoking Bus, which evolved into the Crew Bus.
Tony was the Driver and stopped one early morning just outside of Bakersfield and pulled the speedometer which read 999,999.9. This was just before it would have rolled back to all zeros.
Bee, Budrock, and Jody also occasionally drove this bus as relief drivers on long trips.
I believe we put another 30 thousand miles on it before it was retired.”
— Budrock “The Illuminator” Prewitt, Lighting Director for Willie Nelson & Family
Willie Nelson’s beautiful tribute to his friend Ray Price, “For the Good Times” is available now. Willie was a former member of Price’s Cherokee Cowboy and close life-long friend. He recorded the twelve-track album at Ocean Way Studios, where Price also recorded. Engineered by Fred Foster and Bergen White, the album features Vince Gill on six tracks.
1. “Heartaches by the Number (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
2. “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
3. “Faded Love”
4. “It Always Will Be”
5. “City Lights (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
6. “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me(featuring the Time Jumpers)”
7. “Make the World Go Away”
8. “I’m Still Not Over You”
9. “Night Life”
10. “Crazy Arms (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
11. “Invitation to the Blues (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
12. “For The Good Times”
You might not recognize him, but that’s Budrock “the Illuminator” Prewitt, Lighting Director for Willie Nelson & Family, underneath that white beard and festive hat. Doesn’t he make a great Santa! ? And he went to Santa School. If you need a Santa for your holiday party, keep Santa Bud in mind. He lives in Texas, but maybe he’ll travel.
To book him for your festive gig: santaexpresscentral.com.