Archive for the ‘Awards and Honors’ Category

Willie Nelson tops Billboard’s country albums chart with, “God’s Problem Child” (“God should have more kids like that.” )

Thursday, May 11th, 2017
by:  Edward Morris

OK, music lovers, lift a toast or hit your applause button app in honor of the irreplaceable Willie Nelson, who tops Billboard‘s country albums chart this week with his puckishly dubbed God’s Problem Child. God should have more kids like that.And, while we’re brandishing our upraised thumbs, let’s turn them as well toward Sam Hunt, whose “Body Like a Back Road” is spending its third week at No. 1 on the country airplay rankings.

Besides its country prominence, God’s Problem Child also debuts at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 all-genres chart.

Oddly enough, it’s rare that Nelson has a No. 1 album as a solo act. His last one was Band of Brothers in 2014 and, before that, The Promiseland in 1986.

Most of his No. 1 albums have been co-billings with other artists. But alone or with a buddy, his work is priceless.

Maybe it’s it time 84-year-old Willie and 90-year-old Tony Bennett put their heads together.

The only other new album this week to break into the Top 50 is Old Crow Medicine Show‘s 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde, a tribute to one of Bob Dylan’s landmark albums, which slides in at No. 14.

Willie Nelson topping charts with new album, “God’s Problem Child”

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Gary Miller/Getty Images
Willie Nelson performs at ACL Live on Dec. 31, 2016 in Austin, Texas.

The country music icon is still topping charts at 84.

Country legend Willie Nelson‘s God’s Problem Child bounds in atop Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart (dated May 20), earning 36,000 equivalent albums, with 34,000 in pure sales, during its first week (ending May 4), according to Nielsen Music. On the all-genre Billboard 200, the set starts at No. 10, where it is Nelson’s sixth top 10 (and fourth since 2013).

Nelson notches his 17th No. 1 on Top Country Albums (and third to arrive at the summit). He ascends to a solo share of the second-most chart-toppers, passing Garth Brooks and Merle Haggard, each with 16. Among all artists, George Strait leads with 26 No. 1s on the chart, which launched in 1964.

Beyond the new release’s chart-topping status, Nelson adds his record-extending 50th top 10 title on Top Country Albums. Fellow icons Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Strait share second place with 40 top 10s each.

Meanwhile, Nelson updates his status as the oldest living artist to crown Top Country Albums. Born April 29, 1933, he just celebrated his 84th birthday. Nelson last led the list, at age 82, with Django and Jimmie (alongside then-78-year-old Merle Haggard) on June 20, 2015 (30,000 sold). Haggard died in 2016 on his 79th birthday (April 6).

Merle Haggard performs at Stagecoach on April 24, 2015 in Indio, Calif.

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Merle, Waylon, Willie, Patsy: Classic Country Takes Center Stage in Nashville

Meanwhile, Lynn, who turned 85 on April 14 and is recovering after suffering a stroke (May 4), debuted and peaked at No. 4 on Top Country Albums with Full Circle on March 26, 2016 (a month shy of her 84th birthday).

God’s Problem Child is Nelson’s first No. 1 on Top Country Albums without another artist since Band of Brothers debuted atop the chart dated July 5, 2014 (37,000 sold). When Brothers crowned the list, it closed a 28-year gap -between chart-toppers for Nelson; before that, he hadn’t reigned since June 7, 1986 (with The Promiseland).

The new, 13-track album was produced by Nelson and Buddy Cannon, with the pair having co-written seven of its songs. A good amount of the material focuses on aging, while “Still Not Dead” was inspired by fake news stories that reported Nelson’s premature demise. During a recent interview with Jeremy Tepper, who programs SiriusXM’s Willie’s Roadhouse channel, Nelson said of the falsehoods, “I always loved them. Everybody’s so glad to see me.”

The last song on the LP, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” pays homage to Haggard. “You get to be our age, you see a lot of your buddies and friends pass on,” Nelson told Tepper. “It’s just inevitable. We’re all going to go one of these days… [But] not today.”

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Willie Nelson’s Topping the Charts Again

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Willie Nelson’s, ‘God’s Problem Child’ Enters the Billboard Country Chart at #1

Album Hits Top 10 on Billboard 200

NEW YORK, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — God’s Problem Child, Willie Nelson’s new studio album (and 9th for Sony/Legacy Recordings) has entered the Billboard Country chart at #1, making it the artist’s second US country chart-topper in less than two years. Nelson’s 6th Legacy release, Django and Jimmie, an unforgettable musical collaboration with Merle Haggard, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country chart in June 2015.  God’s Problem Child is Willie’s first album to debut all-new songs since Band of Brothers (his 4th Legacy release) reached #1 on the Billboard Country chart (and #5 on the Billboard 200) in June 2014.  Willie’s new album has also entered the Billboard 200 at #10 and is his third Legacy release to break into the Top 10 pop charts.

God’s Problem Child was released on April 28, on the eve of Willie’s 84th birthday (April 29).

Willie Nelson and Janis and me

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Janis from Texas and I were lucky to watch Willie Nelson receive a martial arts award in Austin a few years back. So lucky. Janis and Willie were telling each other jokes when I snapped this photo.

Janis took a picture of me that day, too, with Willie. I wasn’t hugging up on him like she was, though, but I love the photo. That’s me, part of my face, on the left.

Willie Nelson Fun Facts

Friday, May 5th, 2017

(CNN) — Here’s a look at the life of Grammy Award winning musician Willie Nelson.

Birth date: April 30, 1933

Birth place: Abbott, Texas

Birth name: Willie Hugh Nelson

Father: Ira Nelson

Mother: Myrle (Greenhaw) Harvey

Marriages: Ann Marie D’Angelo (1991-present); Connie Koepke (1971-1988, divorced); Shirley Collie (1963-1971, divorced); Martha Matthews (1952-1962, divorced)

Children: with Ann Marie D’Angelo: Micah and Lukas; with Connie Koepke: Amy and Paula; with Martha Matthews: Billy (died in 1991), Susie, Lana; with Mary Haney: Renee

Education: Attended Baylor University, 1954

Military: US Air Force, 1950, medical discharge

Other Facts:
Raised by his grandparents.

Sold encyclopedias door-to-door and taught Sunday school.

Has collaborated with Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Lee Ann Womack, Rob Thomas and Snoop Dogg, among others.

Has a fifth-degree black belt in GongKwon YuSul.

Nominated for 49 Grammy Awards and won eight, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nominated for one Academy Award.

Composed the song “Crazy,” which was made famous by singer Patsy Cline.

Is on the advisory board of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

1957 – Releases his first single, “No Place for Me.”

1960 – Moves to Nashville.

1962 – Releases his first album, “And Then I Wrote.”

1970 – Moves back to Texas.

1973 – Holds the first annual Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Texas.

1975 – Wins a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, for “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.”

1978 – Wins a Grammy, with Waylon Jennings, for Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group for “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

1978 – Wins a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, for “Georgia On My Mind.”

1979 – Makes his acting debut, alongside Robert Redford, in the film, “The Electric Horseman.”

1980 – Wins a Grammy for Best Country Song for writing “On The Road Again.”

1980 – Stars in the film “Honeysuckle Rose.”

1982 – Wins a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, for “Always On My Mind.”

1982 – Stars in the film “Barbarosa.”

1985 – Releases the album “Highwayman” with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

1985 – Organizes Farm Aid, a concert to benefit family farmers.

1988 – Releases his memoir, “Willie: An Autobiography.”

1990 – The IRS seizes Nelson’s property and possessions to settle a $16.7 million tax debt.

1991 – Nelson releases the album, “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” Nelson gives the profits from the album to the IRS.

1991 – Nelson’s son, Billy, commits suicide.

1993 – Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

1994 – Is arrested for possession of marijuana. The case is later dismissed.

2000 – The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents Nelson with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

2002 – Wins a Grammy, with Lee Ann Womack, for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for “Mendocino County Line.”

2002 – Releases the book, “The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes.”

2006 – Releases the book, “The Tao of Willie.”

2006 – In Louisiana, Nelson is issued a citation for possession of marijuana and illegal mushrooms. Nelson receives six months’ probation and pays a fine.

2007 – Wins a Grammy, with Ray Price, for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for “Lost Highway.”

2010 – Is charged with marijuana possession after US Border Patrol agents search his tour bus in Texas near the US-Mexico border.

2012 – Releases the book, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.”

2013 – Nelson donates his collection of awards and personal items to the University of Texas at Austin’s Briscoe Center.

July 9, 2015 – The Library of Congress announces Nelson as the latest recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

July 2016 – Nelson launches “Willie’s Reserve,” his own personal brand of marijuana that will be grown and sold wherever it’s legal. The brand will feature “high quality strains of marijuana,” and Nelson himself will work with “master growers” and local retailers to establish a set of “quality standards” for his special reserve.

February 12, 2017 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, for “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.”

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Alison Krauss, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Alison Krauss was one of the many artists who gathered in Washington DC in November 2015, to honor Willie Nelson, when he received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Songs.

This day in Willie Nelson history: Willie Nelson inducted into Texas Film Hall of Fame

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

On March 11, 2002, Willie Nelson was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame.  He was presented by Lyle Lovett and Billy Gibbons.

Willie Nelson’s musical reputation is matched by his sterling songwriting (“Crazy,” “Nightlife,” “On The Road Again”) but when he appeared in 1979’s THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, a character actor for the ages was born. His first starring role was in 1980’s HONEYSUCKLE ROSE with Amy Irving and Dyan Cannon, filmed around Austin, followed by the western BARBAROSA (1982) and the underrated SONGWRITER (1984).

Numerous TV parts came to the Abbott native while film roles such as RED-HEADED STRANGER (1986), GONE FISHIN’ and WAG THE DOG (1997), and STARDUST (2000) kept his big screen image popular. Nelson’s downhome appeal is most evident when he plays himself (AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME, 1999) and he rallied a grieving nation performing “America The Beautiful” on AMERICA: A TRIBUTE FOR HEROES.

The Texas Film Hall of Fame, which operates under the auspices of the Austin Film Society, was co-founded in 2001 by Louis Black, the editor of The Austin Chronicle, and Evan Smith, Editor-In-Chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune and former editor of Texas Monthly. Every year, at a gala held at Austin Studios, on the site of the city’s onetime municipal airport, the Texas Film Hall of Fame inducts or honors Texans who’ve made a significant contribution to film or filmmaking, as well as non-Texans who’ve made significant strides in the advancement of the Texas film industry. Classic Texas films are also honored, with a member of the cast or crew accepting on behalf of his colleagues. In 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005, the gala was emceed by Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas, who died on September 13, 2006. The 2007 gala commemorated her passing by celebrating her life and her passion for film, emceed by New York columnist and 2001 Inductee Liz Smith.

“Those braids just beg to be unbraided.” — Playgirl Magazine

Monday, February 27th, 2017



Today is Bobbie Lee Nelson Day in Texas

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017


“Thank you Rep Richard Raymond of Laredo and the Texas Legislature by proclaiming it Bobbie Nelson Day in Texas.
What a great honor! Thank you!”

Bobbie Nelson

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

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

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.”

Willie Nelson in the Red Rocks Performer’s Hall of Fame

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Image result for Willie Nelson grateful dead

“What an honor to win” — Willie Nelson, on award of 2017 Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Congratulations Willie Nelson from The Late Show @ColbertLateShow

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Willie Nelson wins Grammy for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album” for “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin”

Monday, February 13th, 2017
Willie Nelson took home the win for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, for Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, at the 2017 Grammy Awards on Sunday night (Feb. 12).

Nelson’s Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album win was announced during the 2017 Grammys Premiere Ceremony, which was streamed online before the televised awards show. Unfortunately, Nelson was not at the award show to accept his award; in recent weeks, he’s canceled a number of concerts due to an undisclosed illness.

Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin is a collection of songs penned by George and Ira Gershwin. Songs on the album include “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Love is Here to Stay,” among others. Wilson partners with Cyndi Lauper for “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and with Sheryl Crow for “Embraceable You.”

Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin was produced by Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings and is available via Amazon and iTunes.


Willie Nelson’s Guitar Doctor

Monday, February 13th, 2017
by:  Linsday Liepman

Willie Nelson’s guitar is almost as iconic as he is. Trigger is named after Roy Rogers’ horse and has been by Willie’s side since 1969. Mark Erlewine is the Austin man that has kept Trigger going for almost 40 years.

Off the beaten path of Burnet Road, in a back warehouse, the science of sound marries the art of music in Mark Erlewine’s guitar shop.

“Whenever a guitar comes in, the first thing I do is tune it to pitch and measure the action at the 12th fret,” said Mark.

Erlewine is one of three boys and had an ear for music early on. His mother was also a musician, playing piano and singing and recognized that her son had a talent.

“When I first started guitar, I rented a guitar in Wheaton, Maryland. And it was the worst playing guitar I had ever had. And I thought ‘Is it me? Is guitar going to be this much of a challenge? Or could this play better?’ And that…was really the first time I tried to figure out and took an interest in guitars,” said Mark.

He answered the call to Austin in 1974 from Ann Arbor, Michigan where he owned a guitar repair shop.

“This was like the Mecca. Armadillo World Headquarters,” said Mark.

He spent a few nights sleeping on the table saw of his first shop on Guadalupe and would post flyers for his business along the drag. There was no AC in the shop. Mark would sweat and work on guitars. He was young and ambitious.

“I was right down the street from the Austin City Limits TV studio so often bands would come in that needed some work,” said Mark.

One day Poodie Locke came in with a repair order for B.W. Stevenson’s guitar.

“That was an introduction to people in the business,” said Mark.

At the end of the 1970s Mark met Willie Nelson for the first time at the Austin Opry House located on Academy Drive just off South Congress. Today it houses a software company and is still the site for Arlen recording studios. Poodie, Willie’s stage manager, took Mark through a series of back hallways to a private bar.

“Willie was sitting there at the bar. Introduced me and Willie said, ‘yeah I just want you to keep this guitar going for me. As long as it’s going, I’ll be going,'” said Mark. “I thought, ‘I can do that.'”

But Willie’s request wasn’t for repair.

“Willie wants Trigger to wear along with him,” said Mark.

Don’t tough the frets. Be careful of each signature but keep it playing. Willie was starting to wear a second hole in the wood.

“Trigger looked much younger then, as did I,” said Mark.

Willie and Trigger have played more than 10,000 shows. Between gigs, Trigger will come back to Mark for a list of repair work. He’s replaced 12 to 13 sets of tuners over the years and made sure Trigger’s iconic sound is still intact. The Martin N-20 guitar is Brazilian rosewood on the back and sides with a Spruce top.

“Much of his life is there handling Trigger,” said Mark.

Mark has a love song of his own waiting to be written. His wedding photo to wife Dianne is tucked in his toolbox at the shop where they both work. She takes care of the books after leaving the corporate world in 2009.

“I do love it when people come in and they put the guitar up on the case and open it up and start talking about it. I’ll usually wander up to the front just to listen,” said Dianne Erlewine.

They’ve been married for a dozen years and the stories keep coming.

“Jimmy Vaughn comes out and winks at him and I’m like, you know him?” recalls Dianne about one of their first dates.

“Sting or Bob Dylan’s guitar. Something I listen to and admire, yeah that’s exciting,” said Mark.

He never knows who will walk through his door.

“No…not until the credit card, says John Fogerty. And I said you know I play a lot of John Fogerty songs,” said Mark.

He’s made custom guitars for Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Johnny Winter, Don Felder and Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Paul McCartney and more. But for every famous face, he’s mended guitars for local musicians and possibly even repaired one marriage.

“She put it over his head and they were seeing a counselor now and they think things would get better but they were hoping we could put this thing back together for them. It’s symbolic of their relationship,” said Mark.

He was able to repair that guitar but others have to be pronounced dead. Not Trigger though. Mark spent time in December working on Trigger while Willie and the band rested for the holidays. Mark himself has had surgery for carpal tunnel on both hands. The guitar reflects the wear and tear too. Just like Willie wants it.

“I think Trigger will be there til the end. I really do,” said Mark.

You can learn more about Mark’s work at