Archive for the ‘Awards and Honors’ Category

Willie Nelson honored (November 1, 1986)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Willie: Life & Songs OF An American Outlaw, A Willie Nelson All-Star Concert Celebration

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

photo:  Jason Kempin

It takes a village: A star-studded lineup paid tribute to Willie Nelson on Jan. 12 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena as part of the “Willie: Life & Songs OF An American Outlaw, A Willie NElson All-Star Concert Celebration.” The performance will air later in the year on A&E Networks.
by:  Glen Peoples

On a drizzly, windy Saturday afternoon in January, with Nashville’s honky-tonk bars buzzing a block away, Keith Wortman sits on a leather chair in a small room backstage at the Bridgestone Arena. In six hours, Chris Stapleton, backed by a top-notch group of players led by Don Was (Wortman’s longtime creative partner), would kick off a memorable tribute to Willie Nelson: “Life and Songs of an American Outlaw.” To Wortman, founder of Blackbird Presents, the first song is the culmination of Blackbird’s latest celebration of a legendary musician.

These star-laden concerts are “what I’ve always dreamed about doing,” Wortman says as three people stand in the doorway waiting for a moment of his time. Organizing the concert is corralling a flurry of moving parts. For “Life & Songs of an American Outlaw,” television played an additive role. “The model is an all-star show for an icon – bring out a Who’s Who of artists, backed by an incredible all-star band, and organize multi-platform distribution, which is to say they all become broadcast specials, not just the concert itself.”

Other types of concerts, namely festivals, count on sponsorships to bolster the bottom line. Blackbird has done roughly 25 all-star celebrations to date. In addition to one-off concerts, Blackbird has the Outlaw Music Festival it produces with Nelson and his manager, Mark Rothbaum. In 2018, 17 Outlaw Music Festival concerts averaged 8,887 tickets sold per night and an average gross of $426,160, according to Pollstar data.

Television effectively subsidizes the concert and, apparently, T-shirts that cost only $20 (an amazingly low price for an arena concert). This particular concert will be televised on A&E later in 2019; previous Blackbird concerts have aired on AMC, CMT, PBS, AXS, and more. “It’s harder to make the economics work because there are a lot of moving pieces and the expenses can get pretty significant,” explained Wortman. “So having a budget from a network certainly helps.” Compensation for artists is part of the business model, although Wortman couldn’t reveal specific numbers. “People are compensated through a number of different ways: expenses, fees, royalties on the products we put out.”

“Life and Songs of an American Outlaw” was like a festival in a bottle, a one-stop shop for Willie Nelson music performed by a multi-day festival-worth of talent. Sure, their appearances were typically limited to a song, and not always a duet with Nelson, but each performance had the emotion of a 30-minute set. The crowd hung on every note. Out of about 16,000 fans in attendance, you could count the people who left early on one hand.

Nelson at 85 years old is due for a tribute concert and brought aboard friends with an authentic connection: they know him, recorded with him, toured with him or cited him as an influence. Sometimes the concert was an easy sell. The Avett Brothers “probably said yes before they finished asking the question,” Seth Avett joked before the show. Having a prior relationship to the star is a requirement for his other concerts, too. Typically when doing these all-star events, Wortman will get calls from record labels trying to get their artists on his show to promote their new albums. These are non-starters. “That’s not an honest conversation.”

Nelson’s Rolodex must have made booking artists easier, but choosing the right lineup is crucial to this type of concert. “It’s a big responsibility. You want to honor the artist and their songs in a meaningful way and you want to put the artists on the show in a special position to succeed. Part of doing that is giving them a big platform, the broadcast.” And while the broadcast’s audience is a lure for the performers, Wortman also wants to preserve the show for posterity. “You’re talking about some of the most epic musical moments.”

Many performers were past participants at Nelson’s roving Farm Aid concert or Outlaw Music Festival (produced by Blackbird with Nelson and his manager, Mark Rothbaum): Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price and Sheryl Crow.

Nathaniel Rateliff, who performs with his band The Night Sweats, said he tries to be more involved with Farm Aid every year. Rateliff just happened to have a free day before flying to Europe for a tour. “I would have been bummed to be too busy or if our tour had already started.” Lyle Lovett, who performed “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” noted Nelson’s ability to bring people together.

“Willie’s my hero [and] one of the most special human beings that ever walked the planet.” John Mellencamp, who co-founded Farm Aid with Nelson and Neil Young, and Dave Matthews both turned in memorable performances. Both are Farm Aid board members.

Some relationships go back decades. Vince Gill, who turned in a lovely rendition of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” told the audience he opened for some of Nelson’s shows as a teenager. Susan Tedeschi played Farm Aid in 1999. She and her husband Derek Trucks, who perform as the Tedeschi Trucks Band, played “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces.” Tedeschi followed-up with a duet with Nelson on “City of New Orleans.” Tedeschi and Trucks usually enjoy a quiet period that time of year. “But Willie called,” said Trucks, laughing. Some of the legends had signed Margo Price’s guitar by the time she hit the red carpet before the show. “I’ve been walking around making everybody sign it. So I’ve got Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris.”

Nearly every song per-formed was written or co-written by Nelson – with a few exceptions. Jamey Johnson wowed the audience with his version “Georgia on my Mind,” written by a close friend of Nelson’s, Ray Charles. Jack Johnson performed “Willie Got Me Stoned and Took My Money,” an original song he debuted at 2015’s Farm Aid concert.

One performer, in particular, lacked a connection: George Strait. Announced to a standing ovation as “The King of Country,” Strait explained he showed up because he and Nelson had never performed together on stage. Strait showed up with a humorous song written just for the occasion. It was a fitting end to the show before the requisite all-star jam closed the evening with superstar performers backed by an orchestra of guitars.

“Life & Songs of an American Outlaw” worked because it adequately paid tribute to Nelson and his legacy. Look for it on A&E – it’s part of the business model, after all.

Willie Nelson Celebrated By George Strait, Margo Price & More at ‘Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw’

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Photo:  Al Wagner
by:  Isaak weeks

Willie Nelson and George Strait perform at Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tenn.
Given the universal appeal and introspective catharsis that marks the best of Willie Nelson’s work, the sheer range of talent who took the stage to celebrate the life and career of Nelson at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw should have come as no surprise.

As the dozens of guest performers — from old friends like Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris, to fresher upstarts like the Avett Brothers and Margo Price — came together at the end of the roughly four-hour commemoration to follow Nelson in a closing medley of “On the Road Again” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” it became even more apparent just how ubiquitous the outlaw legend’s hits have become over the last 50 years.Aid

“I think everybody in America grew up with Willie Nelson to some degree,” the Hawaii-born Jack Johnson told Billboard on the red carpet before the event, where he was on hand to perform his song “Willie Got Me Stoned.”

“He was on my radar as a kid just from my parents playing his records around the house, but shortly after I started putting out albums in 2001, I had a chance to jam with Willie at his house one island over from me. Willie is empathetic to the mixture of cultures that come together to create music in Hawaii, and I think that respect to a melting pot of influences has been felt throughout his career.”

The following five performances were highlights of a night that was recorded and is slated to be aired as a major broadcast special on A&E Network in 2019.

A pair of Margo Price duets

A nominee for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammy Awards, the current Queen of Americana took the lead mic on a rendition of the 1978 hit “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” alongside Outlaw legend Bobby Bare. It proved to be merely a warmup to a barn-burner of a moment when Bare exited and Steve Earle appeared to join her for a rousing recreation of the Phases and Stages era “Sister’s Coming Home.”

Lukas and Micah Nelson’s trilogy

While Lukas is arguably better known around Nashville, thanks to his appearances at various local events in the wake of the release of the 2017 album Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and his work on A Star Is Born, Micah stunned those unfamiliar with his vocal talents in the future-folk project Particle Kid by embracing the classical and Spanish influences found within the gospel-tinged “I Thought About You, Lord.” He then accompanied his brother on a pair of their father’s standards that span across his career, as Lukas’ talent shined through “Time of the Preacher” (from Willie’s 1975 commercial breakthrough Red Headed Stranger) and “The Songwriters,” a cut from Willie’s 2014 album Band of Brothers.

Alison Krauss stuns

Having previously recorded a cover of Nelson’s 1981 hit “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” for an extended edition of her 2017 release Windy City, Krauss’ vocals filled every corner of the arena, as the audience put away cell phones and stopped speaking in mid-conversation to appreciate a master at work. To quote Vince Gill, who walked onstage to perform “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” as Krauss exited: “Damn, damn, damn!”

Willie Nelson performs in concert during the Luck Reunion at Luck, Texas on March 16, 2017 in Spicewood, Texas. 

When the bearded Johnson took the stage, several people in the crowd excitedly mistook the singer for Chris Stapleton, who had opened the show earlier with a rousing rendition of “Whiskey River.” The difference between Stapleton’s performance — which was a crowd pleaser, don’t get me wrong — and what the audience witnessed from Johnson’s handling of the oft-covered “Georgia on My Mind” was that the latter resulted in a standing ovation that began a full minute before the final lyrics were bellowed by an artist that deserves much more recognition than he currently has.

George Strait finally sings one with Willie

It’s remarkable to realize that, before last night’s performance, George Strait and Nelson had never performed together. The two reigned as key talents in country music in the ’80s, and Willie has made a career out of performing duets with fellow legends on multiple projects. It made sense, then, that the first time they would share a stage Strait would mark the occasion by debuting a new song seemingly titled “I Ain’t Never Got to Sing One With Willie.” The tune, making light of the two entering their twilight years as performers, had the two arguing over whether this occasion finally made Strait’s career or ruined it.

Lukas Nelson: “Every single person that came are the loves of my life, for the love they showed my father”

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw concert (January 12, 2019) (Nashville, Tennessee)

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Everybody loves Willie Nelson.

We realize that’s an obvious statement — but it was made even more obvious Saturday night at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, during the all-star tribute concert “Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw.”

More than 2 dozen acts — almost uniformly huge names in country, rock and Americana — shared the stage to play their favorite songs by Nelson, and several of them got to do so with the man himself.

It’s no small feat to stand out among a crowd that includes Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, George Strait, Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Lee Ann Womack, Eric Church, Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris, The Avett Brothers, Jack Johnson — man, it’s hard to know where to stop — and others.

But throughout the night, there were performances that were more than just a really good cover. They were moments that truly did justice to an iconic “outlaw.” Spoiler alert: a bunch of the best moments came from Nelson himself.

Derek Trucks and Willie Nelson perform during the Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw concert at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (Photo: Andrew Nelles /

The mood was electric from the moment the stage lights turned on, revealing Stapleton at center stage. His soulful take on Nelson’s 1978 hit was a prime showcase for his voice, of course, but the rollicking tune also flexed the muscles of a stacked house band, with Jamey Johnson, Don Was, Mickey Raphael, Paul Franklin and Amanda Shires among their ranks.

She also provided fiery backup for Steve Earle, but Price’s finest moment came when she took on Willie and Waylon’s classic cover, giving it an inspired spin as a “Mamma” herself. Bonus points for bringing Country Music Hall of Famer Bare along to belt out the chorus.

Lukas and Micah Nelson: “Time of the Preacher”

Nelson’s two youngest children have followed their dad into the music business, but unsurprisingly, they don’t make a habit of performing his songs on stage. That made their medley at Saturday’s show a rare, touching treat, and their lineage couldn’t have been clearer when they harmonized on “Time of the Preacher” from the classic “Red Headed Stranger” album.

Jason Isbell: “Milk Cow Blues”

“Willie Nelson loves the blues,” the Americana giant told the crowd. “And I love Willie Nelson.”

Stands to reason, then, that Isbell loves the blues. He made that clear in the ensuing five minutes, presiding over the tune in that same cool, meter-breaking way Willie has, whether he’s singing the blues or a ballad. He also got to whip out the kind of classic blues solo you don’t tend to hear at his own shows, along with turns from pedal steel master Paul Franklin and 400 Unit bandmate Amanda Shires.

Lyle Lovett: “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”

The Texas native was truly in his element Saturday night, and was greeted with a standing ovation before strumming and singing his way through Nelson’s 1980 chart-topper.

Alison Krauss: “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”

Saturday’s show was taped for TV, which naturally led to a number of stops and starts, and then in turn led to a lot of loud conversations and trips to the beer stand for fans. But you’d be hard-pressed to find an empty seat when Krauss began her stunning (surprise, surprise) rendition of Nelson’s 1981 chart-topper. The room was brought to a whisper — aside from all the whistles and cheers that greeted bluegrass great’s voice, ringing pristinely across the arena floor.

Jamey Johnson – “Georgia on my Mind”

In terms of artists who’ve truly picked up Nelson’s torch, perhaps no one deserved to be on the bill

more than Jamey Johnson. He paid tribute to his hero with with one of his most famed covers – a Hoagy Carmichael composition that both Nelson and Ray Charles made their own. Johnson’s spin was a worthy, reverent one, too.

Norah Jones and the Little Willies: “Remember Me/ I Gotta Get Drunk”

The acclaimed singer-songwriter (and Nelson collaborator) had apparently been preparing for this gig since 2001, when she first formed the “Little Willies” band in tribute to Nelson. Their two songs were an all-too-brief celebration of the country legend’s jazzy side.

Jack Johnson: “Willie Got Me Stoned And Took All My Money”

Embracing the idea of country music being “three chords and the truth,” Johnson treated the crowd to a goofy three-chord song based on a real experience: the time Nelson invited him to his house to play poker. Just look at the song title, and you’ll know how one that turned out.

Willie Nelson and Dave Matthews: “Crazy”

Two singular croons intertwined on what might be Nelson’s most beloved composition. Matthews seemed a little sheepish about “dressing up” for the show – which in his world, apparently, is wearing a blazer – while Nelson threw his coat on the ground right before they played.

Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris: “Pancho and Lefty”

Right after taking the stage, Harris asked the crowd a rhetorical question: “Are we not all blessed to be living in the time of Willie?”

Her harmony vocal soared during her duet with Nelson – on a Townes Van Zandt tune he recorded with Merle Haggard in 1983.

Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Eric Church: “Me and Bobby McGee”

Only one artist gets to come to a Willie Nelson tribute concert and play their own famous song, and that’s Kris Kristofferson. His performance of his signature tune — with Nelson’s harmonizing — was a celebration of their lifelong friendship, and a genuine thrill for the packed house.

Stars gather at tribute for Willie Nelson in Nashville last night

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

photo:  Jason Kempin
by:  Joseph Hudak

TV tapings can be a drag. But amid the set changes and staged introductions from host Ed Helms at Saturday night’s all-star tribute to Willie Nelson in Nashville, there were some true moments of musical spontaneity — particularly from the guest of honor.

Titled Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw and produced by Blackbird Presents, the concert, which will air sometime this year on A&E, assembled a powerful cast of guest artists to pay tribute to the 85-year-old. George Strait, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffett, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Eric Church all performed songs from, about or popularized by Nelson, often in collaboration with the Country Music Hall of Fame member himself.

Chris Stapleton opened the evening — like Nelson has been doing since the Seventies — with Johnny Bush’s “Whiskey River,” adding extra muscle to the song with his patented growl and establishing the tone of the tribute: these wouldn’t be paint-by-number re-creations. Rather, the Nelson catalog had room to breathe, thanks to bandleader Don Was’s versatile A-list house band, which included Amanda Shires, Jamey Johnson, Audley Freed, Paul Franklin and Nelson’s longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael.

Margo Price, with an assist from Bobby Bare, offered a rowdy “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Steve Earle, with Price, cow-punked “Sister’s Coming Home” and Lee Ann Womack added a hint of Countrypolitan to “Three Days.” Following a sublime reading of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” Lyle Lovett even picked up the tempo, joining Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson for a full and funky “Shotgun Willie.”

After joking that this was his first time performing inside the Bridgestone Arena, Sturgill Simpson paid tribute to Nelson with “Red Headed Rounder,” an unreleased song Merle Haggard wrote about his friend. Earlier, fellow Nashville boundary-pusher Jason Isbell nodded to Nelson’s blues influences with “Milk Cow Blues” and also found himself at the center of some entertainment news: The night’s co-host W. Earl Brown, who played Dan Dority on HBO’s Deadwood, confirmed that Isbell appears in the upcoming Deadwood Statehood movie.

But it was the more subdued, stripped-down performances that carried the most emotional weight, including a consecutive three-song set from three of country’s untouchable vocalists. Alison Krauss’s spine-tingling “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” earned a standing ovation, Vince Gill’s “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” hushed the arena and Jamey Johnson’s booming “Georgia on My Mind” made us all wish — yet again — that he’d release new music of his own.

That less is more approach most applied to Nelson, a famously idiosyncratic vocalist who can get swallowed up by a large band. On Saturday, he was at his best when leading Harris and Rodney Crowell in “Til’ I Gain Control Again” and the entire cast in the finale medley of “On the Road Again,” “May the Circle Be Unbroken,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me.” While huge, swelling soundtracks play well in arenas and for TV, Nelson’s continued prowess would be better highlighted backed by a small combo or even his trusty Family Band.

Still, he was in his zone, particularly when playing guitar, on collaborations with Kristofferson and Eric Church (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Dave Matthews (“Crazy”) and George Strait. Remarkably, the Strait duets marked the first time the two Texas stars had ever performed together, and stood as the best of the evening’s pairings, including a spirited “Good Hearted Woman.”

But it was on the new Strait song “Sing One With Willie,” off Strait’s upcoming album, where the pair displayed a mischievous chemistry that underscored the camaraderie of the tribute show. A tongue-in-cheek lament written by Strait, Nelson, Bubba Strait and Buddy Cannon about how the King of Country has never been asked to duet with the Red Headed Stranger, the track found both men pining for the other.

“Now I’ve heard him with Merle, Waylon and Cash/Jones and Toby, that man is totally gracious,” Strait sang. “I’m thinking ‘Damn, why not me?’/we can even sing it on TV — just like him and ol’ Julio Iglesias.”


“Whiskey River,” Chris Stapleton
“Three Days,” Lee Ann Womack
“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Margo Price & Bobby Bare
“Sister’s Coming Home,” Steve Earle & Margo Price
“I Thought About You, Lord/Just As I Am/Time of the Preacher/Bandera/Hands on the Wheel,” Micah & Lukas Nelson
“Milk Cow Blues,” Jason Isbell
“A Song for You,” Nathaniel Rateliff
“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” Lyle Lovett
“Shotgun Willie,” Lyle Lovett & Ray Benson
“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” Alison Krauss
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Vince Gill
“Georgia on My Mind,” Jamey Johnson
“Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks
“City of New Orleans,” Willie Nelson with Tedeschi/Trucks
“Bloody Mary Morning,” The Avett Brothers
“Willie Got There First,” The Avett Brothers
“Remember Me,” Norah Jones and the Little Willies
“I Gotta Get Drunk,” Norah Jones and the Little Willies
“Willie Got Me Stoned,” Jack Johnson
“Red Headed Rounder,” Sturgill Simpson
“Me and Paul,” Eric Church
“Night Life,” John Mellencamp
“Funny How Times Slips Away,” Dave Matthews

With Willie Nelson:
“Crazy,” Dave Matthews
“After the Fire Is Gone,” Sheryl Crow
“Pancho and Lefty,” Emmylou Harris
“Til’ I Gain Control Again,” Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell
“Me and Bobby McGee,” Kris Kristofferson, Eric Church
“The Harder They Come,” Jimmy Buffett
“Always on My Mind,” Chris Stapleton, Derek Trucks
“Song One With Willie,” George Strait
“Good Hearted Woman,” George Strait
“On the Road Again/May the Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away,” full cast
“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me,” full cast

Dave Matthews joins Willie Nelson Tribute Concert

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Once-in-a-lifetime all-star concert honors Willie Nelson Blackbird Presents announces that iconic singer-songwriter Dave Matthews joins the all-star lineup of artists performing at Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw, a once-in-a-lifetime concert event set to take place Saturday, January 12th at 7 pm CT at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Matthews joins an already-epic lineup of music stars featuring Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, The Avett Brothers, Bobby Bare, Chris Stapleton, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, George Strait, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Jimmy Buffett, John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Lukas Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Margo Price, Micah Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff, Norah Jones and The Little Willies, Ray Benson, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks and Vince Gill.

The GRAMMY Award-winning Dave Matthews Band has sold more than 22 million tickets since the band’s inception and a collective 38 million CDs and DVDs combined. It is the first group in history to have seven consecutive studio albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 including their latest release, Come Tomorrow. Matthews has been on the Board of Directors of Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid since 2001, where the songwriting mavens first cemented their friendship.

Matthews told Rolling Stone, of Nelson, back in 2009, “He genuinely has concern for the people around and the people that know him. The more you know him, the more he’s like that. He has written so many profound songs that I think there are sort of two different people, at least. The one that is this amazing contributor to the history of American music but then also this voice for the people.”

The event will be filmed for a broadcast television special to premiere on A&E Network in 2019. Tickets are on sale now at, by phone at 800-745-3000, and at the Bridgestone Arena Box Office.

[Read More at © The Music Universe. All Rights Reserved.]

Willie: Life and Songs of an American Outlaw, in Nashville (January 12, 2019)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

This once-in-a-lifetime concert event will take place Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 7PM CT at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. This historic event will honor living legend Willie Nelson and feature his greatest hits performed by today’s biggest superstars.

Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw will feature star-studded performances by Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, The Avett Brothers, Bobby Bare, Chris Stapleton, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, George Strait, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Jimmy Buffett, John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Lukas Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Margo Price, Micah Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff, Norah Jones and The Little Willies, Ray Benson, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, and Vince Gill.

This major event will be filmed and recorded for a major broadcast special slated to air on A&E Network in 2019.


Tickets are on sale now,  online at, by phone at 800-745-3000, and the Bridgestone Arena box office.

VIP packages including great seats and exclusive merchandise will be available.

Most Performances as Austin City Limits: Willie Nelson

Friday, January 4th, 2019

Outside the Moody Theater, where Austin City Limits is now taped live, this wall charts artists who have performed on the show.

photo:  John Gensheimer


More Artists added to Willie Nelson Tribute Concert (January 12)

Monday, December 24th, 2018
by:  Dave Paulson

It was already guaranteed to be a huge night, but Willie Nelson’s all-star tribute concert in Nashville has just doubled in size.
Chris Stapleton, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, Jimmy Buffett, Bobby Bare, Jamey Johnson, Lukas Nelson, Margo Price, Micah Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff, Ray Benson, and Steve Earle have all been added to “Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw,” set to take place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on January 12.

They join a roster that’s headlined, naturally, by the 85-year-old country legend himself, plus Alison Krauss, The Avett Brothers, George Strait, Jack Johnson, John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Lyle Lovett, Norah Jones and The Little Willies, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, and Vince Gill.

The concert will be filmed for a TV special that will air later in 2019 on A&E — but fans can also purchase tickets via Ticketmaster and the Bridgestone Arena box office.

In 2018, Nelson released his 67th and 68th studio albums: the original “Last Man Standing” and the Frank Sinatra tribute “My Way.” On February 6, he’ll be honored by the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing, days before the 2019 Grammy Awards.

Willie Nelson honored with the Willie Nelson award at 2018 Emerald Cup (December 16, 2018)

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018
by:  David Downs

You know the old cliché: “Everyone who entered is a winner.”

But that was the stone cold truth last weekend north of San Francisco at the 15th annual Emerald Cup cannabis competition, expo, and smoke-out.

Every single entrant in the massive contest survived the test of California adult use cannabis legalization and implementation. It was a year where more than half of the pre-existing medical cannabis industry got wiped out by local regulations. Three-quarters of the cities in the state have banned legal cannabis activity.

“We have gone through quite a whirlwind,” said Carter Lash, founder of award-winning topical maker C.A.D. “But we’re happy to be here. It’s a big change for everyone and we’re trying to stay positive. A lot of people weren’t able to be here.”

Multi-generational farmers as well as industry newbies traded war stories and harvest buds with thrilled attendees Saturday and Sunday.

An award ceremony Sunday afternoon doled out trophies to the best California cannabis products in 24 categories. Willie Nelson popped in for a lifetime achievement award and director Kevin Smith busted up the crowd with a NSFW podcast taping.

Willie Nelson holds up his award, a custom Bluegrass “lamp” bubbler. Cup organizer Tim Blake has been trying to book Willie for years. (David Downs/Leafly)

Visit website and scroll down for some of our favorite pictures from Emerald Cup 2018.

Artists added to Willie: Life and Songs of an American Outlaw (January 12, 2019)

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Willie Nelson honored at Emerald Cup (Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018)

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

As a longtime cannabis activist, Nelson has been an advocate for both the consumption and legalization of marijuana and is the creator of his own recreational cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve. Nelson, a Texas native with a long and well-known career as a singer, songwriter, author, poet and actor, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. The Emerald Cup will also honor Nelson by renaming the annual award to the Willie Nelson Award for future honorees.

Willie will be honored as the recipient of an award during our Award Ceremony taking place on Sunday from 2-4 to 3-4:30pm.

The 2018 Emerald Cup will mark Nelson’s first-ever appearance at a large-scale cannabis event.

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.”