Archive for the ‘Amy Nelson’ Category

Ben Dorcy: “Lovey, King of the Roadies”

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

SXSW: At Scoot Inn, a ‘backstage’ peek at life of a legendary roadie
by:  Dave Thomas

There were two things happening at the eastern fringe of SXSW on Friday afternoon.

In the sun-splashed dirt courtyard of the Scoot Inn beer garden, the Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion was in the final stretch of a three-day run — Erika Wennerstrom’s enormous voice on “Extraordinary Love” was swamping the place like a tsunami, drowning out pockets of disinterest.

But inside Scoot Inn proper — what was on this afternoon the “Roadie Lounge” — the star of the afternoon was a legend on a different level. Ben Dorcy, who maintained his title of “oldest living roadie” by working until the week he died at the age of 92 last September, was being celebrated with sneak peeks at a documentary 13 years in the making.

Every now and then Amy Nelson, daughter of Ben’s longtime employer Willie, would try to bring the two events together, speaking to the outside crowd of the virtues of “Lovey” — as Dorcy was known to those close to him. But still, a separation remained: The show and … backstage.

For an event honoring the original roadie, it was only natural.

It was fitting that the Scoot Inn would host — it is one of the few Austin bars old enough to encompass the legacy of Dorcy, who was born in 1925, two years before the first jukebox. After serving as gardener and valet to John Wayne, Dorcy would hit the road for 65 years with the giants of country music.

Inside the dark and cool interior of the historic bar, the first 15 minutes of the documentary: “Lovey: King of the Roadies” began with Dorcy aboard Willie’s bus, sharing a joint with his old boss and recounting stories of misbehavior and wild times. It is a professional and polished film of music legends sharing what is legendary to them. Among the many icons on screen, we don’t lose sight of who the star of this show is. There’s Dorcy, shuffling along on his cane, his countenance weathered to sharp angles. In portraits, his eyes are inscrutable. In snapshots with friends, they are alive with joy.

“He took care of all these stars with this star power,” Amy Nelson said. “And he had that same kind of star power. He could have been an actor, too. He was hanging around all these amazing people and he chose to serve them.”

Amy Nelson — there on Friday alongside her co-producers of the film, David Anderson and Lana Nelson — co-directed the film with her cousin Trevor Doyle Nelson. Her love for the man who was part of the Willie Nelson Family band, and by extension, her own family, was apparent in her conversation … and also in the years she has spent on the film.

All along, she pictured Dorcy at events like these and on the red carpet at the premiere. “It was hard to keep working on (the documentary) after he was gone,” she said. But Austin’s High Brew Coffee stepped in at that moment to help push the project forward.

Now Amy Nelson says the film is nearly complete and she hopes to have details like publishing and licensing complete in time for the fall film festival season.

Ben Dorcy got his start in the music business working for Hank Thompson, but also was connected to Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash.

Inside the Scoot Inn, Dorcy’s fellow roadies are lined up for free custom earplugs being given out this afternoon by MusiCares. Those not on barstools having their ears peered into are watching the screen as Jamey Johnson sings a cover of “Night Life.” Toward the end of the clip, Dorcy is shown in the plaza of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, when a fellow in a Batman costume sidles up to him. “Where are the drugs going?” he asks. Is it a real moment or a setup? Either way, Dorcy’s reaction is authentic: “Get away from me!” he snarls.

The room erupts in laughter. These pros know, the meek don’t survive 65 years on the road.

Dorcy was connected to Willie for many of those years, but he also worked with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Ray Price, George Jones and Waylon Jennings, among others.

In his later years, Dorcy was connected to a similar run of “Texas music” artists: Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Kevin Fowler, Josh Abbott, Cody Canada and, particularly, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen.

As it turns out, it’s no accident that Dorcy stayed on the road with the younger generation — those artists and their roadies worked together to take care of the man who had no living relatives.

“All of these fellow roadies were becoming like his sons,” Amy Nelson said. “They would network and figure out where Ben was going and where he going to work and where he was going to spend the holidays and how they were going to pay his rent.”

“It was amazing to see this brotherhood and how they came together to take care of their fellow roadie.”

It was in this spirit that Joel Schoepf (former roadie who now works for John T. Floore Country Store) and John Selman (Willie Nelson stage manager) created the Live Like Lovey foundation, to help benefit other roadies who need financial assistance.

A silent auction at the Scoot Inn on Friday, featuring items ranging from Willie-signed bandanas to original Jerry Garcia art, helped raise funds for the roundation. Looming over the auction was a huge framed movie poster for the “Lovey: KIng of the Roadies” documentary.

Before he died in September, Dorcy did see a cut of the hour and 40 minute film about his life. His judgment?

“He loved it,” Amy Nelson said. “After 20 minutes, he was like ‘I like it.’ And when it was over he said, ‘I love it.’”

“Thank God.”

Willie Nelson Family honor Ben Dorcy, King of Roadies — Fundraiser at Friday, March 16 at High Brew Coffee in Austin

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018


Nelson Family Passion Project Comes to Life With High Brew Coffee-Powered Roadie Lounge

High Brew Coffee celebrates the men and women who bring SXSW to life with a lounge, fundraiser and a glimpse at the documentary about the original roadie and longtime friend of Willie Nelson, Ben Dorcy III.

High Brew Coffee®, an Austin-based beverage company, is taking their “for those who do” mantra to the next level with the Roadie Lounge, a unique experience built exclusively for the hardworking men and women essential to making each SXSW show happen. In addition to providing a sanctuary for roadies to recharge, High Brew Coffee has been working with the Nelson family to host a special event and fundraiser, on Friday, March 16, 2018 from 1-6 p.m., celebrating the life of Ben Dorcy III, known as the first roadie and longtime family friend. In addition to giving guests a glimpse at the highly anticipated “Lovey: King of the Roadies” documentary produced about Dorcy’s life by Willie Nelson and family over the last thirteen years, the event will serve as a fundraiser for the Live Like Lovey Foundation, which was formed to support retired roadies. Dorcy passed in September 2017 before the documentary could be completed.

Ben Dorcy, aka, Lovey, worked with all the great entertainers; Hank Thompson, Ray Price, John Wayne, Waylon, Cash, and yes, even me.  But he was more than just a guy who helped set up gear. He was a friend when you needed one and even when you didn’t. Ray Price said he kept him around for spare parts, and Ray needed a lot of those. Ben could find you things you didn’t even know you had lost. He was the first roadie ever and one of the best,” said friend and musician, Willie Nelson.

The Roadie Lounge is part of the three-day Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion being hosted at The Historic Scoot Inn March 14-16, 2018 that will feature live performances from 24 artists, both emerging and established. Willie’s daughter and fellow musician, Amy Nelson, and legendary promoter and Brooklyn Bowl founder, Peter Shapiro, will host the March 16 Relix event, which will be open to RSVP’d guests and SXSW credentials. In between musical sets performed by The Texas Gentleman featuring special guests Rayland Baxter, Christopher Porterfield (Field Report), Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards), Nicole Atkins, Billy Strings and The Accidentals, 15-minute musical vignettes from the documentary will be screened showing the colorful, enigmatic personality of Dorcy that won over so many musicians, like Texas legends Kinky Friedman, Dallas Wayne, and Billy Joe Shaver, who will all be in attendance. In addition, guests can participate in a silent auction of musician autographed memorabilia and instruments.

“We are busy having so much fun that it’s easy to overlook those working tirelessly to produce the concerts and festivals we love. As a company that was built specifically for those giving it their all, we wanted to express our gratitude for helping bring us so much joy,” says David Smith, co-founder and CEO of High Brew Coffee. “By paying tribute to Ben Dorcy, the man who started it all, we knew we would be honoring the entire community because he was a man who absolutely gave his all during the 92 years the music industry was blessed to have him.”

Building upon last year’s High Brew Coffee deliveries to crews working behind the scenes at the festival, the Roadie Lounge kicks off High Brew Coffee’s national initiative to provide touring bands with complimentary cold brew coffee, keeping them fueled while on the road. High Brew is also collaborating with the Nelson family to finalize completion of the documentary in the coming months so it can hit the film festival circuit and tour just like Dorcy loved to.

“We made the film “Lovey: King of the Roadies” to honor Ben and roadies everywhere.  Thanks to Brooklyn Bowl, High Brew Coffee, and “The Live Like Lovey” foundation for paying homage to these unsung heroes who are literally the backbone of the music industry,” added Willie Nelson.

About High Brew Coffee®

After working tirelessly for 13 years to turn his tiny tea company into a household name, David Smith, co-founder of Sweet Leaf Tea, embarked on the sailing adventure of a lifetime. Discovering the benefits of refreshing cold-brewed coffee during warm nights navigating rough waters, the idea for High Brew Coffee® was born. Founded in 2014, High Brew is an all-natural 100 percent Arabica blend ready-to-drink cold brew coffee made from Direct Trade coffee beans. Brewed with zero heat, High Brew Coffee® offers premium low-calorie cold-brews in smooth, delicious flavors such as Double Espresso, Mexican Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate Mocha, Black & Bold and Creamy Cappuccino + Protein. High Brew Coffee is shelf stable to perfectly accompany an active and on-the-go lifestyle. For more information, please visit

About “Lovey: King of the Roadies”After 13 years in the making, Lovey: King of the Roadies is wrapping up its post-production phase and preparing to be shared with the world.  Documenting the life and times of the original roadie, Ben Dorcy lll, this film is just one piece of a bigger movement of recognition and support for the folks who make it possible for the show to go on.  Joel Shoepf and John Selman, two of Dorcy’s friends and fellow roadies took it upon themselves to look after Dorcy, making sure his needs were met up to his last breath.  In that spirit, Joel and John started “Live Like Lovey”, to assist professional road crew with their medical bills.

About Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Bowl, ranked the #1 busiest club in NYC and the #7 busiest club in the world in 2017 (Pollstar), is the ultimate night out, with its groundbreaking integration of premiere music, 16 lanes of bowling, a bar featuring locally crafted beers, and food by the acclaimed Blue Ribbon restaurant group. The venue — aka “rock and roll heaven” (Village Voice) — boasts a sound system and amenities that “no other local rock club can offer” (The New York Times).

SOURCE High Brew Coffee

Related Links

Folk Uke at the Saxon Pub (Saturday, February 17th)

Friday, February 16th, 2018
 See the talented Folk Uke duo of Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie at the Saxon Pub tomorrow night in Austin.  6 pm.

Folk Uke with Amy Nelson and Cathie Guthrie at the Saxon January 20th

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

See Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, Folk Uke, in concert in Texas

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Folk Uke, The GRAMMY AWARD watching duo, will be playing  shows in Texas:

Dec. 16  One-2-One Bar  Austin, TX
Jan. 20  Saxon Pub  Austin, TX
Feb. 17  Saxon Pub  Austin, TX
Mar. 10  Saxon Pub  Austin, TX

If you are in the gift buying mode, they have some great gifts at their website for the music lovers in your life and for your music-loving self.

See Folk Uke in Austin Dec. 16

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Amy Nelson and Raelyn Nelson at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Happy Birthday, Amy Lee Nelson

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Happy birthday to the beautiful and talented Amy Nelson.


Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, Folk Uke

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Daughters of famed music icons form singing duo

Amy Nelson, Cathy Guthrie make music ‘their own way’
by:  Paul Venema

SAN ANTONIO – Midway through their latest tour, a duo called “Folk Uke,” played to a sellout crowd at the Paper Tiger Club along the revitalized St. Mary’s Strip.

The duo, Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie are the daughters of county music icon Willie Nelson and folk music legend Arlo Guthrie.

Nelson plays guitar, Guthrie the ukulele, thus the name “Folk Uke.”

“It’s hard to tell what type of music we play,” Nelson said. “I think we just end up writing songs to make ourselves laugh about something.”
Their songs are sometimes edgy. Their sense of humor and wit, on and off stage, is dry.

“People expect stupid from us. So we just try to deliver the best that we can,” Nelson said, unable to hold back from laughing.

“We just try to lower the expectations immediately and have a good time,” Guthrie added.

Though they come from strong music roots, performing their famous father’s music is not a part of their act.

“When you cover a song you need to bring something else to it and make sure that you do it justice in some way, and I don’t think that I’m singing my dad’s songs very well right now,” Nelson said.

Both women are quick to add that their fathers are a constant source of encouragement.

“He’s very supportive of us and I think he’s proud,” Nelson said.

That support, coupled with their father’s names, continue to follow them to the ticket office.

“It helps us sell tickets and get first-time goers,” she said. “But it doesn’t help anybody want to come back.”
That is up to them.

Judging from the crowds they continue to draw, they’re doing a good job of that.

See Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, Folk Uke at One-2-One Bar in Austin (June 29, 2017)

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

One-2-One Bar
1509 South Lamar
Austin, TX
June 29, 2017

Time: 8:30pm     Day: Thursday     Doors: 8:00pm     Ages: 21+ Ages     Price: $10

It was 1998 in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter when Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson met at a bar…where they both worked. One was a tramp and one was devastatingly pure. With a ukulele and an acoustic guitar, they formed a band for the same reason kids join gangs— just to survive, but also to unleash the brilliance that was poking them from within.

Don’t believe the rumors. Folk Uke is not totally amazing. They’re just kind of amazing. If you find yourself at a Folk Uke show, you are in for a treat— but maybe not the kind of treat that you like the taste of. Come to a show and see for yourself.

Better yet, buy their albums first and you may save yourself the trouble. And if you make it to a live Folk Uke show, do your best to enjoy it…and then give them two more chances. They are hit and miss, but so are you most likely, and that is their charm. We live to inspire and we’re tired of writing in third person.

Love, Cathy & Amy

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Happy Father’s Day Willie Nelson

Sunday, June 18th, 2017


Willie Nelson & Family

Thursday, June 1st, 2017


Willie Nelson & Family, People Magazine (9/1/1980)

Sunday, May 21st, 2017


People Magazine
September 1, 1980
by Cheryl McCall

Before he ever imagined the high life, the whiskey nights and the Bloody Mary mornings to follow, Willie Nelson yearned for the road and its promise of freedom.  As a Texas school boy, chopping cotton for $1.5o a day, he listened to the gospel songs of the field hands and daydreamed about moving on.  “I didn’t like picking cotton one bit,” he recalls.  “I used to stand in the fields and watch the cars go by and think, ‘I want to go with them.’”

Today, nearly four decades and a million miles later, Willie, 47, continues to heed the call of the highway.  Overtaken by success a mere five years ago with the release of his album Red Headed Stranger, he simply picked up the tempo and put his foot to the floor.  Once branded an outlaw by Nashville’s rhinestone-encrusted music establishment, Nelson has lately become an inadvertent and unassailable national monument.  No one really objected when Willie dropped a lyric from The Star-Spangled Banner at the recent Democratic National Conveniton.

Since Stranger went platinum in 1976, Nelson has added two more platinums, two double platinums, four golds and a whole atticfull of Grammys and Country Music Association awards.  Currently, with seven LPs on the charts plus his new double LP Honeysuckle Rose, Willie has taken his guitar and his low-key persona and is trying his hand at being a movie star.

As he tells it, his starring role as Buck Bonham in Honeysuckle Rose is one he could play almost from memory.  “I never did know you had to the trained to have your picture made,” drawls Willie.  “Maybe that’s the whole point — not knowing anything is maybe better than just knowing a little.  Besides, I can sympathize with Buck,” he adds. “He’s a married guy who succumbs to temptation on a potholed highway.  I’ve been that route myself.”

It shows.  On-screen, Willie projects the same earthy sex appeal and relaxed masculinity that give his life performances tension.  His face is as brown and creased as a walnut, the reddish hair and beard dusted with gray.  But the camera dimisses the etchings of age and lingers instead on the soulful brown eyes and the effortless smile.  When Nelson is teamed with Dyan Cannon, who plays his lusty wife, Viv, in Honeysucke Rose, the movie crackles with high voltage.  “Willie does it like a real person, which is what an actor is supposed to do,” says the film’s director, Jerry Schatzberg.  “He’s very natural in the love scenes because he’s had a lot of experience there.  The man’s been married three times and he knows what he’s doing.”

While Honeysuckle Rose borrows freely from the singer’s nomadic, loosely plotted existence, the unabridged script of Willie’s life story is part Grapes of Wrath, part contrified Battle of the Sexes.  Children of the Depression, Willie and his older sister, Bobbie, were raised by their paternal grandparents in dusty little Abbott, Texas after Ira and Myrle Nelson divorced.  While Bobbie learned piano from her grandmoteher, Willie was given his first guitar at 7 by his grandfather, a blacksmith who took mail-order music lessons.  When the old man died the following year, Willie kept his ear to the family’s wooden Philco radio, learning as many Grand Ole Opry songs as he could.  “He’d pick up things just like that,” says Bobbie.  “His ear is so fantastic, he doesn’t even know how good he is.”

Graduating from high school at 16, Willie left the cotton fields for a job as a disc jockey.  “When I found myself singing over the radio, I didn’t think life got much better than that,” he recalls.  For a while it didn’t.  He joined the Air Force in 1950, but was discharged with a back injury.  Afterward he enrolled at Baylor University, but spent most of his single semester there playing dominos.  Dropping out, he was earning as little as 50 cents a night with a local band when he met and married Martha Matthews, a 16-year-old Waco carhop, in 1952.  “She was a full-blooded Cherokee.”  Willie recalls, “and every night with us was like Custer’s last stand.  We’d live in one place a month then pack up and move when the rent would come due.”  By 1958 Willie had three children to support.  He made ends meet, after his fashion, as a plumber’s helper and a door-to-door salesman, while working nights playing his songs in the honky-tonks.

The Nelsons drifted to Nashville in 1960, about the time their stormy marriage was nearing its end.  Martha resorted to bartending, while Willie hawked his satchel of songs on Music Row and drank up the profits at Tootsie’s Orchard Lounge.  In what turned out to be her final gesture of compassion, Martha had to rescue Willie from a drunken suicide attempt when he sprawled in the street outside Tootsie’s and waited for a car to run him over.  The last night of their marriage was even more garish.  “I came home drunk,” Willie remembers, “and while I was passed out, she sewed me up in a sheet.  Must’ve taken her two hours.  Then she got a broomstick and started beating the hell out of me.  I woke up in this strait jacket, getting pounded like a short-order steak,” he continues.  “By the time I got loose, she’d lit out in the car with the kids, her clothes and my clothes.  There was no way I could follow her naked, and that was kind of the end of it.”

That was about the time his intensely personal, offbeat laments began turning into hits for better-known singers.  Night Life (which Willie had sold for $150), Crazy, Hello Walls and Funny How Time Slips Away all cracked the country Top 20 by 1963, and soon he was earning $600 a week in composer royalties.  (His own renditions weren’t selling then, because producers kept smothering his reedy baritone in syrupy strings.)  Over the years Nelson has composed more than 1,000 songs, while successfully avoiding the old Nashville formulas.  “I’d say that 99 percent of what I write has come from my own experience,” he says.  “A person could probably start from my first song and go all the way to my last and — if he knew what to look for — write my autobiography.”

Several painful chapters were inspired by his second marriage, to country singer Shirley Collie.  Husband and wife sang, recorded and traveled together until settling down on 200 acres near Nashville in 1964.  There Willie blew a small fortune fattening hogs (“I bought them for 25 cents a pound and ended up selling for 17”) while performing at the Grand Ole Opry.  When Willie hit the road again to recoup his losses, he left Shirley at home to take care of his kids.  Both drifted into smashing up cars, drinking, drugs and infidelity until the marriage simply died of neglect.

Still, Willie wasn’t destined for bachelorhood.  Even before the divorce from Shirley was final, he had gone ahead and married his present wife, Connie Koepke Nelson, 36, a factory worker whom he’d spotted during a club date in Cut and Shoot, Texas.  “When Willie came out to sing,” she remembers, “he looked down and smiled.  It wasn’t a flirty look, just a warm, neat feeling.  Before the night was over he asked for my phone number, and the next time he came through Houston he called.  I went to the show and that was it.”

By 1970 Shirley had moved out and Connie had moved in, but Willie’s career was going nowhere in Nashville.  Then his house caught fire.  “By the time I got there, it was burning real good,” Willie remembers, “but I had this pound of Colombian grass inside.  I wasn’t being brave running in there to get my dope — I was trying to keep the fireman from finding it and turning me over to the police.”  Willie saved the grass, but lost more than 100 tapes of songs he hadn’t yet recorded.  Still, out of the ashes came a sense of relief and a determination to abandon Nashville for Texas.  Installing his family in Austin, Willie bought a used Greyhound bus and began touring the county fairs, dance halls and violence-prone bars where he was known and loved.

Just as Merle Haggard was topping the charts with his hippie-baiting Okie from Muscogee, Willie — never a slave to fashion — began sporting long hair, a beard and and earring.  With fellow outlaws like Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Jerry Jeff Walker, he began forging the gritty Austin sound that finally brought him success as a singer.  Within six months of its release in 1973, the LP Shotgun Willie outsold all his previous albums combined; he was inducted int Nashville’s Songwriters’ Hall of Fame; and his first Fourth of July picnic draws 50,000 rockers and rednecks to the little hamlet of Dripping Springs, Texas.  Creative control over his recordings brought Willie a string of hit LPs that hasn’t been broken, and later led to his first movie role — as Robert Redford’s manager in The Electric Horseman.  Five more film commitments await, at a reported $1 million per roll, but Willie insists he’s not going Hollywood.  “I like making movies,” he said, “But it’s confining, and I don’t like to go too long without playing concerts.”

Willie and his extended family of 25 musicians and roadies average 250 days a year on tour, traveling in a convoy of three customized buses and two semis of sound gear.  Though he could comfortably afford to fly to his concerts, the bus is a kind of spiritual haven.  “I rest better because there’s no phone,” he explains, “and traveling is a big part of my life.  I haven’t seen much of the country, but I’ve been all over it a thousand times, just laying in the back with the blinds drawn.  I guess it’s the perpetual motion I like.”

Backed by what may be the highest paid band in country music (members earn $750 a night — $1,000 for cutting an album), Willie’s roistering performances always start on time and usually run through 54 songs.  Then he shrugs off his battered Martin guitar to sign autographs for perhaps another two hours.  Whether he’s playing Caesars Palace (where he’s paid $1.5 million a year) or a little Bible Belt fair, Willie’s accessibility is his immutable trademark.  “He just can’t say no to anybody,”  Connie says.  “I’ve seen Will so tired he can’t go any further.  Then someone will ask one more thing from him and he’ll do it.  He doesn’t ever want anybody to think that success has changed him.”

In some ways, of course, Willie has changed.  Though he and his sidemen continue to graze on $3, 500-a-pound Arkansas grass (“Most people smoke to get high,” says a friend.  “Willie smokes to get normal”), he has sworn off pills and cut back on his whiskey.  He offers no apologies for the marijuana (“I think most sensible human beings know it’s not something you send people to the penitentiary for”) but forbids the use of any other drugs — especially cocaine — by his band.  “If you’re wired,” he says simply, “you’re fired.”

Despite his new found willingness to set commonsense limits, Willie’s most powerful addiction is to life on the road.  “It’s been a strain on Willie and me to an extent, but we’ve never had trouble between us, ever,” reports Connie.  “I don’t worry about the women.  I trust Willie completely.  But sometimes I feel that he doesn’t need me.  He’s got the road and he’s got his life.  It’s real easy to feel pushed aside.”  This summer Connie and the kids have been touring with Willie — a visible rebuttal to stories linking Willie with actress Amy Irving, his adulterous interest in Honeysuckle Rose.  “Amy and I were friends during the movie and I hope we’re still friends.” says Willie.  “Anything more is only what people wanted to write about.”

There was a time when Willie’s definition of a successful performer was “anyone who got to play music and eat.”  Today he says, “I have all the material things I need and a couple I don’t.”  When their life in Austin became oppressively public, he, Connie and their two children moved to Colorado in 1977.  There Willie can hang his hat in a three-story chalet on 60 acres near Denver or at the family’s 64-acre Pedernales Country Club outside Austin, an 80-unit apartment complex, the 1,700-seat Austin Opry House and the previous Nelson residence — a 44-acre spread with $750,000 limestone ranch house hidden behind a wall topped with electrified barbed wire.  Around Nashville, his holdings include a music publishing company and 200 acres outside town.

Inevitably, becoming a man of property, as well as the father of five, grandfather of six and paterfamilias to a musical entourage, has given Willie a sense of responsibility that is occasionally burdensome.  “I’m not worried about the next car payment,” he says, “But I am worried about income taxes.  A lot of families (including numerous ex-in-laws) depend on me, and it’s a lot of pressure in some ways.  But we’re making more now than we ever did, so at least if I decide to hang it up for a couple of months, nobody’s going to starve to death.”  Shouldn’t his success entitle him to be a little more sanguine?  “Maybe,” he says.  “But I still get knocked off my feet like anybody else. I’ve had so many ups and down in the last 30 years that I’ve learned to live with both.  The successes are great, but they’re not going to last forever.  And I’ve come back from a lot of failures.”