Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

Half Nelson

Sunday, January 27th, 2019


Half Nelson is a compilation album of duets performed by country singer Willie Nelson along with various other artists, released in 1985. It also includes a few never-before released hits as well.

Track List:

1. “Pancho and Lefty”, with Merle Haggard
2. “Slow Movin’ Outlaw”, withLacy J. Dalton
3. “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?”, with Neil Young
4. “I Told a Lie to My Heart”, with Hank Williams
5. “Texas on a Saturday Night”, with Mel Tillis
6. “Seven Spanish Angels” Ray Charles
7. “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, with Julio Iglesias
8. “They All Went To Mexico, with Carlos Santana
10. “Half a Man”, with George Jones


Another Willie Nelson fan, Drew Holcomb

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
by:  Drew Holcomb

Every artist has heroes. Heroes who made the art they loved as a younger person that inspired them to make their own art. For me as a young songwriter, the list was pretty long: Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and many others. By the time I got around to having my own fans, a lot of my idols had passed away. A few years ago, my manager and booking agent had me make a dream list of artists I would love to open for. On the top of my list was Willie Nelson.

In November of 2017, that dream came true. Almost every singer and songwriter alive today would put Willie Nelson on their Mount Rushmore of living legends. I have been a huge fan of Willie’s since I was in college. I love his jazz singing, his inimitable songwriting, the loyalty of his band and family, his deep love of his home state of Texas, and the way he never stops touring. My wife Ellie and I saw him for the first time at Farm Aid in 2005, then again with BB King down on the Gulf Coast, and every time if feels like a family reunion. With his sister on keys for nearly half a century, and mostly the same band members since he was a kid, it really is “making music with my friends” for Willie Nelson.

So, when I got the call that Willie had invited us to do a 10 day tour with him, I was speechless. Not only did we get to tour with him, we decided to take the whole family. The first show was at the historic and infamous honky tonk Billy Bob’s, in Fort Worth. Then we made a big circle through Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and back to Texas. We played honky tonks, regional small town theatres, casinos, and and an arena in Houston, a little taste of everything. No matter the room, everyone adores Willie Nelson. They sing along to his songbook of American classics, and even at 84 he was still able to stand on his feet the whole time and give the audience a glimpse of his legend.

Since he’s in his mid-80s, we were told by his band and crew that getting to spend time with him would probably be short and sweet, but they would do their best to make it happen. About halfway through the tour, they told me he wanted me to come up and sing with him that night. I got to sing onstage with him three of the next five nights of the tour, singing harmonies to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “I’ll Fly Away,” and “I Saw The Light.” It was a thrill.

My final memory from the tour was after our last show with him. We decided to let our 5 year old daughter, Emmylou, stay up late and watch Willie’s entire set sidestage. After watching me sing with him for the last time, the band was still playing and Willie was shaking hands and signing posters and bandanas at the front of the stage. My wife Ellie was holding Emmylou, and as Willie walked offstage, he stopped, gave Emmylou a kiss on the cheek and says, “Goodnight princess.” Of course, she might not remember this when she is older but it is a moment we will remind her about for the rest of our lives.

Being on the road with Willie left a big impression on me in a lot of ways. The loyalty of his crew and band made me want to be a better bandleader, and hopefully be the kind of person who deserves that sort of loyalty in our band. I dug deeper and deeper into his vast catalog and even found a heart-wrenching cover of The Muppets’ “Rainbow Connection” that I play to help our newborn son Rivers go to sleep at night. The older two kids have become accustomed to our vagabond troubadour lifestyle and “On the Road Again” is an anthem of sorts in our home and in our cars. So, in honor of those magical 10 days spent on the road with the living legend, and in honor of our kids, who have been strapped on to the backs of our dreams, we recorded our own version of “On the Road Again.” Nothing will ever have the magic of the original, but it feels good to give it our own spin. We hope you enjoy it.

Willie Nelson sings with Ronnie Milsap on “Ronnie Milsap: The Duets” album

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Country soul icon Ronnie Milsap is a bit of a studio geek, and he thinks a lot about music technology and recording equipment. So it makes sense that he spent a long time getting 13 other singers and bands into the studio to record duets with him for a new album, “Ronnie Milsap: The Duets,” to be released Friday, just two days after his 76th birthday.

“I am a lot into the technical side of it,” he said during a recent interview at his home in Nashville. “I believe in certain types of microphones. I believe in certain pre-amplifiers.”

He says it took him a few years to finish the album because of scheduling, but he’s amassed an impressive list of partners, from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Kacey Musgraves and many more.

“The whole trick was trying to find a time that Luke Bryan could come in or George Strait could come in,” Milsap said.

Born in North Carolina, Milsap was a wunderkind at musical instrumentation, learning gospel, country and pop music from radio and classical techniques from the State School for the Blind in Raleigh.

Early on in his career, he played piano on Elvis Presley records such as “Kentucky Rain,” in which the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll implored him for “more thunder on the piano, Milsap!”

After moving to Nashville, he bought a Music Row studio from Roy Orbison, renovating it and turning it into a hit factory, starting with his 1979 hit “Nobody Likes Sad Songs” through his major hits like “Stranger in My House.” He had the recording console equipped with a Braille label and kept it until 1995.

The studio known as Ronnie’s Place is still in use today by record label Black River Entertainment and that was where Milsap returned to record the new album. The six-time Grammy winner said he tried as much as possible to be in the studio with his duet partners when they were recording, rather than recording at separate times.

Full track listing:

1. “Southern Boys and Detroit Wheels” feat. Billy Gibbons
2. “Stranger in My House” feat. Luke Bryan
3. “Smoky Mountain Rain” feat. Dolly Parton
4. “Prisoner of the Highway” feat. Jason Aldean
5. “A Woman’s Love” feat. Willie Nelson
6. “Happy Happy Birthday” feat. Lucy Angel
7. “No Getting Over Me” feat. Kacey Musgraves
8. “Lost in the Fifties” feat. Little Big Town
9. “Houston Solution” feat. George Strait
10. “What a Woman Can Mean to a Man” feat. Jessie Key
11. “Misery Loves Company” feat. Leon Russell
12. “You’re Nobody” feat. Steven Curtis Chapman
13. “Shaky Ground” feat. Montgomery Gentry

Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, Folk Uke on Tour

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Great news, Folk Uke have announced more show dates:


Sat. January 5  AllGood Cafe  Dallas, TX
Thurs. January 17  The Egg  Albany, NY**
Sat. January 19  Brooklyn Bowl   Brooklyn, NY**
Sun. January 20  The Warehouse FTC  Fairfield, CT**
Sun. January 27  The Outlaw Country Cruise  Tampa, FL / SOLD OUT
Mon. January 28  The Outlaw Country Cruise  Tampa, FL / SOLD OUT
Tues. January 29  The Outlaw Country Cruise  Tampa, FL / SOLD OUT
Wed. January 30  The Outlaw Country Cruise  Tampa, FL / SOLD OUT
Turs. January 31  The Outlaw Country Cruise  Tampa, FL / SOLD OUT
Fri. February 1  The Outlaw Country Cruise  Tampa, FL / SOLD OUT
Tues. February 26  McGonigel’s Mucky Duck  Houston, TX
Sat. March 2  The Saxon Pub  Austin, TX
Sat. May 25  The Saxon Pub  Austin, TX
Sat. July 27  The Saxon Pub  Austin, TX

**Opening for The Jayhawks

And they have vinyl album available to pre-order.


STARFUCKER will be available on vinyl next week.
Pre-order your copy here

Side One: Starfucker • BJ to a DJ • Sweet Talker • California Stars
Side Two: All I Want For Christmas • Wear You Down • Mic Stand • Crowd Control

Willie Nelson and Margo Price, “Learning to Lose”

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Willie Nelson, “To Lefty”

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

1.  Mom and Dad’s Waltz
2.  Look What Thoughts Will Do
3.  I Love You in a Thousand Ways
4. Always Late (With Your Kisses)
5. I Want to Be With You Always
6. She’s Gone, Gone, Gone
7.  A Little Unfair
8.  I Never Go Around Mirrors
9.  That’s the Way Love Goes
10. Railroad Girl
11. If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time

Hailing from a state known for trailblazing country, Lefy Frizzell and Willie Nelson are Texas’ most distinctive sons in the singing and songwriting departments. After penning and crooning some of honkytonk’s finest songs — and inspiring Nelson to play music back when his nickname was still Booger Red — Frizzell died a broken man in 1975. Two years later, Nelson released a batch of his favorite Frizzell numbers.

This expanded reissue includes one bonus track: an alternate take of Nelson’s 1976 chart-topping rendition of Frizzell’s plaintive voice soared up and down octaves like a trick pilot, Nelson, backed primarily by his acoustic guitar, harmonica and piano, leans into the songs with a blusey feel, giving emotional drama to weepers such as “Always Late (with your kisses)” and “I Never Go Around Mirrors.” If Nelson’s original intent was to remind listeners of his forebear’s breathtaking artistry, he accomplished his goal.

— Holly George-Warren

This day in Willie Nelson history, “Stardust” recorded (December 11, 1977)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

While it wasn’t released until April 1978, tracks to Willie Nelsons award winning album “Stardust” were recorded on this day in 1977.  Produced by Booker T. Jones, all the songs on the album consist entirely of pop standards that Nelson picked from among his favorites. Executives of Columbia Records were not convinced that the album would sell well, because the project was a radical departure from his earlier success in the outlaw movement. When released, Stardust was on Billboard’s Country Album charts for ten years – from its release until 1988.

Willie Nelson receives two Grammy Nominations (2019)

Friday, December 7th, 2018

by:  Peter Blackstock

Austin legend Willie Nelson received Grammy nominations for both of the albums he released in 2018, topping a short list of locals up for consideration when the Recording Academy presents its annual awards show in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.

The title track of “Last Man Standing,” which consists entirely of songs Nelson wrote with producer Buddy Cannon, is up for Best American Roots Performance. And “My Way,” Nelson’s album of standards associated with Frank Sinatra, was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Arrangers Matt Rollings and Kristin Wilkinson received a nomination for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for their work on “It Was a Very Good Year” from the “My Way” album.

Austin conjunto band Los Texmaniacs, which won a Grammy for Best Tejano Album in 2010, is up for Best Regional Mexican Music Album for their “Cruzando Borders” record. And a first-time nominee, in the Best Bluegrass Album category, is Austin band Wood & Wire, for “North of Despair.”

Prominent Texans nominated include Fort Worth’s Leon Bridges, for Best R&B Album (“Good Thing”) and Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand”); and Dallas-raised St. Vincent, whose “Masseduction” is up for Best Alternative Album. That album’s title track, co-written with Jack Antonoff, is nominated for Best Rock Song.

Three Nashville acts born and raised in Texas also received nominations. East Texas native Kacey Musgraves, who lived in Austin for a short time a decade ago, is up for Album of the Year and Best Country Album for “Golden Hour,” plus Best Country Song (“Space Cowboy”) and Best Country Solo Performance (“Butterflies”). Lee Ann Womack, from Jacksonville, received nominations for “The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone” (Best Americana Album) and “All the Trouble” (Best Americana Roots Song).

And Maren Morris, from Arlington, is up for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “The Middle,” her collaboration with Zedd and Grey, as well as Best Country Solo Performance for her cover of Elton John’s “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Dear Hate” with Vince Gill. That song, which Morris co-wrote, also is nominated for Best Country Song.

Another nomination with an Austin connection: Nashville singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier’s “Rifles & Rosary Beads,” up for Best Folk Album, was created in conjunction with the nonprofit Songwriting With Soldiers, founded by Austin songwriter Darden Smith.

The Austin-area Old Settler’s Music Festival may have gotten a big boost for its April 2019 event thanks to six nominations for Brandi Carlile, who recently was announced as one of the fest’s headliners. Carlile’s nominations include three major categories: Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “The Joke,” and Album of the Year for “By the Way, I Forgive You.”

Buddy Cannon and Willie Nelson, 2017 Grammy Award Winners “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin”

Friday, December 7th, 2018

by: Juli Thanki

Longtime producer Buddy Cannon hit a career milestone on Sunday night: his first Grammy Award.

“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” which Cannon co-produced with Matt Rollings (a man he describes as “one of the best musicians that’s ever been in this town”), was named Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, beating out releases by Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, and Josh Groban.

“It was a heavy category for sure,” Cannon said on Monday. “If I pulled myself out of the equation and looked at the names of all five nominees, Willie is as strong as any of them. I thought we had a chance.”

Cannon didn’t fly to Los Angeles for the awards show. Instead, he had a jam session with his mother, 92-year-old harmonica player and songwriter Lyndel Rhodes, then came home to watch the pre-telecast ceremony on the Grammy website. “It’s Matt’s first (Grammy win) and my first. We were both just bouncing off the walls,” he said.

After 10 years of making records together, Nelson and Cannon have it down to a science. “It’s like riding a bicycle. We do our thing. It’s easy, and it makes me nervous as hell every time,” Cannon admitted. “I don’t know why. Getting ready to go in and record your hero, it just makes me nervous.

“His songs have always been an inspiration for me as a songwriter. His singing and his guitar playing have been inspiring to me as a musician. I think anything I do has a little bit of Willie’s influence in it. It’s very gratifying to know that one of your heroes just happens to be a great guy who loves to laugh and have a good time.”

While many other Grammy winners celebrated their victories well into the night, Cannon didn’t even take a coffee break: “I’m working on a record for a band my daughter sings in called the Likely Culprits, and I’m co-producing it with Ronnie Bowman. As soon as the announcement came that we’d won the Grammy, Ronnie knocked on my door, we went upstairs and went to work.”

This day in Willie Nelson history: “On the Road Again” added to Grammy Hall of Fame (12/7/2010)

Friday, December 7th, 2018

On December 7, 2010 single, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced that “On the Road Again,” is one of 30 songs joining the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Other selections include “Lovesick Blues” (1949) by Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys and “Steel Guitar Rag” (1936) by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys featuring Leon McAuliffe. Honored recordings must be at least 25 years old and be recognized for their “lasting qualitative or historical significance,” according to press materials. Recordings are reviewed annually by a committee of recording industry professionals and final approval is made by the Recording Academy Trustees. The list now totals 881 recordings.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Highwayman” recorded in Nashville (December 6, 1984)

Thursday, December 6th, 2018


On December 6, 1984, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson record “Highwayman” at Nashville’s Moman Studios. Among the musicians on the session is guitarist Marty Stuart.

Pick of the Day: Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie, “December Day”

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018


Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, “It Was a Very Good Year” (Genius Loves Company)

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

In 2004 Ray Charles recorded Genius Loves Company, which consisted of duets of Charles and other artists, personally selected by him. It was the last album he completed before his death. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. At the Grammys on February 13, 2005, it won eight awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the song “Here We Go Again”.

Genius Loves Company was produced as a collaboration of Concord Records and Hear Music, the music label of the coffee chain Starbucks. The great commercial success of the album (over 5.5 million copies were sold worldwide up to 2007) has been attributed in part to it being distributed and promoted via Starbucks coffeehouses.

Track List:

    1. “Here We Go Again” with Norah Jones
    2. “Sweet Potato Pie” with James Taylor
    3. “You Don’t Know Me” with Diana Krall
    4. “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” with Elton John
    5. “Fever” with Natalie Cole
    6. “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” with Bonnie Raitt
    7. “It Was a Very Good Year” with Willie Nelson
    8. “Hey Girl” with Michael McDonald
    9. “Sinner’s Prayer” with B.B.King
    10. “Heaven Help Us All” with Gladys Knight
    11. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with Johnny Mathis
    12. “Crazy Love” with Van Morrison

Willie Nelson and Ray Charles honor Frank Sinatra with their duet of “It Was a Very Good Year”,

This video is some behind the scenes of the making of Ray Charles’ final work, the duets album “Genius Loves Company”. Features Willie Nelson, Van Morrison and Michael McDonald.

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie, “December Day”

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018


Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie
December Day
(Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1)

1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Irving Berlin)
2. Permanently Lonely (Willie Nelson)
3. What’ll I Do (Irving Berlin)
4. Summer of Roses / December Day (Willie Nelson)
5. Nuages (Django Reinhardt)
6. Mona Lisa (Ray Evans & Jay Livingston)
7. I Don’t Know Where I Am Today (Willie Nelson)
8. Amnesia (Willie Nelson)
9. Who’ll Buy My Memories (Willie Nelson)
10. The Anniversary Song (Al Jolson & Saul Chaplin)
11. Laws of Nature (Willie Nelson)
12. Walkin’ (Willie Nelson)
13. Always (Irving Berlin)
14. I Let My Mind Wander (Willie Nelson)
15. Is the Better Part Over (Willie Nelson)
16. My Own Peculiar Way (Willie Nelson)
17. Sad Songs and Waltzes (Willie Nelson)


Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie
“December Day”

Liner Notes by Mickey Raphael:

Peering through the control room glass into the studio, a cloud of smoke rises from Sister Bobbie Nelson’s Bosendorfer grand piano. After four hours of non-stop recording with baby brother Willie, perhaps she has ignited the keys during this marathon session???

Listening back to “I Never Cared for You,” the interplay between Bobbie and Will on the instrumental intro “Ou-es tu, mon amour” sets the mood perfectly for the darkness the song portrays.

“Nuages,” a song written by French Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, showcases Willie’s dexterity and guitar genius.  Whenever we are just sitting around the bus, Willie will pick up a guitar and start playing.  Like the horse heading to the barn, he always gets around to “Nuages.”  It’s good mendicine for him.  And on this take, Bobbie’s piano provides the support that makes their performances seem effortless.

In the beautiful hill country near Austin, Texas you’ll find Willie’s Pedernales studio.  Willie and Bobbie are set up in the main room which is L-shaped and doesn’t allow direct eye contact during recording.  Without much discussion of an arrangement, Bobbie started playing and Willie began singing “Mona Lisa.”  That was the beginning of another magical session.

Recording engineer Steve Chadie and Willie’s friend and producer, Buddy Cannon were at the controls as it all happened. It’s kind of like photographing a ghost; you don’t really see it till the picture is fully developed.  Throughout these sessions Bobbie and Willie played continuously and seemed to never run out of song ideas — which is a producer’s dream (or nightmare).  Eventually songs had to be picked for the final selections.  With so many outstanding performances to choose from.  I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that process.

As long as I can remember.  Willie and Bobbie, who ride together on Willie’s bus, spend some of their traveling time jamming on their favorite songs.  Bobbie has a travels size keyboard on the bus and Willie’s guitar, Trigger, is always by his side.  This is where the idea for DECEMBER DAY was born.  “Why not record our favorite songs like we play them for ourselves?”  Bobbie asked.

In 2010 after ending a tour in Austin, Texas, the band, made up of Paul and Billy English, Bee Spears and myself, went in the studio to record with Bobbie and Willie.  The song “What’ll I do” is especially bittersweet because of the passing of Bee Speers.  Bee was Willie’s bass player for more than four decades and this was the last recording session he played with us.  He is missed by us all.

In 2012 while recording songs for the record LET’S FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE, we would stray from the song list every once in a while.  Willie might call out a song title or Bobbie might have a suggestion and this was the fun part of recording with these guys.  You didn’t know where the music was going next.  “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” was born from such a diversion.  We are all fans of the Irving Berlin songbook and of the Ray Charles version, so this was a perfect tribute to both.

In 2004, another impromptu visit to the studio resulted in three songs penned by Willie.  “Walkin’” is truly a classic.  Originally heard in the concept album PHASES AND STAGES, this version goes right to the heart.  Willie’s guitar solo hits you like a gunshot at the O.K. Corral.  If through is the question, then Bobbie is the answer as nothing rings more true than her piano.

“Laws of Nature” is an “a-ha” moment.  Willie writes like he’s talking to you face-to-face.  Bobbie provides the soundtrack for that conversation.  It’s easy to make records with these guys.  You just have to listen… and then  react from the heart.  It’s pretty primal.

The song “Amnesia” rounded out those sessions but honestly, I can’t remember anything about it.

Raised by their grandparents in Abbott, a small farming community north of Waco, Texas, Willie and Bobbie began a musical odyssey that has continued for over 70 years.  Daddy Nelson taught Willie how to play guitar when he was seven, and momma Nelson taught sister Bobbie the piano when she was nine.  Sundays were spent playing at the Abbott Methodist church and gave Bobbie and Willie the spiritual foundation that still can be found in their music.

When it comes to a brother-sister collaboration with the longevity of Willie and Bobbie, there is beauty in keeping things simple, “Less is more” is the underlying theme.  We’ve heard these songs before but not like this.  The spontaneity born out of familiarity is what this record, DECEMBER DAY is all about.

It’s not rocket science.  It’s alchemy.

Mickey Raphael
Nashville, TN

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Wanted: The Outlaws” — 1st country album to go platinum (11/24/76)

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

On November 24, 1976, “Wanted: the Outlaws” became the first country album to receive the new platinum certification, signifying one million units shipped.

The album, featuring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessie Colter was certified gold on March 30, 1976.