Archive for the ‘black and white’ Category

Monday, September 28th, 2015


Becoming a Willie Nelson fan, by Ben Noey, Jr.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015


photo: Ben Noey, Jr.
Willie Nelson  South Park Meadows in Austin, Texas July 4, 1984.

See more of Ben Noey, Jr.’s photos here.

by: Ben Noey

My appreciation for Willie Nelson came almost as an accident.

In the early ’70s, I was very much a disciple of Leon Russell, the gravelly voiced pianist and singer-songwriter who played with just about everyone on the planet, from Joe Cocker to George Harrison to Ray Charles.

I bought Leon’s albums, went to his concerts and wore his T-shirts. I watched him on film during the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and the Concert for Bangladesh. For me, Leon was the music man.

So when I heard, in the summer of 1973, that he might be playing in a field near Austin with Willie Nelson, I just had to find my way to Dripping Springs. I knew a little about Willie, the old guy who played Whiskey River to hippies, but more importantly, I’d seen the Woodstock movie. And I didn’t want to miss that communal music experience right here in Texas.

First, I’d have to sell my mom on the idea. Some of my friends went to the first Kerrville Music Festival in 1972, but she wouldn’t let me go. I’m not sure what changed in a year, but somehow I persuaded her that this July 4, 1973, trip was the most important opportunity in my young life.

And so at age 15, there I was, walking in a dusty field toward a stage where I’d see Willie Nelson play live for the first time. Little did I know it would be the beginning of a four-decade long relationship with the American musical icon and his picnic, which would become a Texas-soaked soundtrack for the Fourth of July.

That first show in Dripping Springs was hot and crowded. Leon was there; so was Kris Kristofferson. Willie was having a blast, and it was contagious. I’d seen my share of concerts, but never like this with so many folks having so much fun — outdoors!

I decided right then and there that if this happened again, I would be there

photo: Ben Joey, Jr.

And it did happen again. In 1974, Willie hosted the Fourth of July Picnic, a three-day celebration in College Station at the Texas World Speedway, where Richard Petty had won a race the previous summer. We parked in a field of grass dried by the Texas heat and walked through a tunnel under the track. When we emerged, we saw a massive stage with Willie’s name and picture painted on the background. This year, I was going to record a little of the fun with photos and a Super 8 movie camera.

My hero, Leon, strolled the stage between sets and acted as emcee, ushering onstage Augie Meyers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Fromholz, Rusty Wier, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jerry Jeff Walker, Waylon Jennings, Michael (before he was Martin) Murphey, Jimmy Buffett and, of course, Willie.

NBC was filming a Midnight Special, so there were occasional breaks for camera movement and Wolfman Jack segments.

A fire started in the field of cars where we’d parked. I broke out the Super 8 and began my career as a journalist. I filmed the volunteer firefighters working alongside shirtless hippies trying to extinguish a Chevy station. The fire spread, but luckily, there didn’t seem to be any injuries.

In 1975, the picnic moved north a piece to Liberty Hill in Williamson County. Kristofferson reappeared with his wife, Rita Coolidge; Charlie Daniels fiddled his way into our hearts; and a Fort Worth favorite, Delbert McClinton, joined the fun. The Pointer Sisters were there, too, although I’m not sure why. We hurried to buy $5.50 advance tickets, which included overnight camping. (We didn’t want to have to pay $7.50 at the gate.)

As 1976 rolled around, Willie took his roadshow to Gonzales, the site of the first battle of the Texas Revolution. It’s also where I got my first taste of Shiner, which I later learned was made right down the highway.

The crowd was huge that year, and of course, it rained. It was muddy. Maybe Woodstock wasn’t so much fun after all. Soaked and discouraged, we got a motel room and watched the bicentennial events on TV — fireworks bursting above the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty and tall ships going by those two giant World Trade Center towers. Not bad at all.

It would be a few years before I’d make it back to the picnic, but in 1984, Willie rolled into South Park Meadows, right outside Austin. I applied for credentials to shoot photos and was granted a pass, plus one. I couldn’t find anyone to make the trip, so, more than a decade after I’d begged my mother to let me go to Dripping Springs, I invited her to see Willie for herself.

She was entranced by the crowd, the spectacle and, yes, the aromas. I’ll wager she was the only woman there in a knee-length denim skirt. Do you have a photo of your mom with 15,000 hipsters?

During the next few years, I saw Willie many times, but never on July Fourth. I made trips to Vegas to see him at Caesar’s and the Orleans. I watched him perform at rodeo grounds and fairs. I saw him in intimate clubs and great halls.

Don’t miss the photo slideshow of Ben Noey’s photos and memorabilia of Willie Nelson through the decades.

But I missed the old picnic days, camping out with my pals, never knowing or caring what was about to happen.

When I jumped back on the Fourth of July Picnic train at in the Fort Worth Stockyards in 2004, there was a different crowd. Hippies looked like grandfathers. Silver-haired ladies danced in tie-dyed moo moos. People weren’t smoking — anything. A longneck cost more than my admission to the first four picnics. Some of the old reliables were there, like Leon and Kristofferson, but a new generation of entertainers were pleasing a new crop of Willie fans. Los Lonely Boys rocked the place and Larry the Cable Guy was testifying. Things had changed, but the party continued.

In 2005, Bob Dylan joined Willie for the Picnic in the Stockyards. So did the Doobie Brothers and a much slower Leon Russell. Corporate sponsorship had changed the old renegade feeling of the picnic, but the music lived on.

In 2010, the “Bringing It Back Home” Fourth of July Picnic came to The Backyard in Bee Cave, near Austin. I knew I should be there, too. Leon was back in the saddle after having brain surgery earlier in the year. Kristofferson sang the classics and Asleep at the Wheel choo choo ch’boogied. The torch has been passed to youngsters like Randy Rogers and Jamey Johnson to carry the Willie message to a new generation of “young country” listeners.

During the last couple of picnics in the Stockyards, Willie has really made it a family affair — his sons and daughters are part of the entertainment. Paula Nelson, Folk Uke with Amy Nelson, Micah Nelson and Lukas Nelson all showed their stuff.

It’s funny to reflect on your life in Willie increments, but that’s what the picnic has meant for me.

It’s like stepping into a time machine and traveling back to the land of no responsibilities — the days when you could grab an ice chest, a blanket, hop in the back of a pickup and leave the world behind. I’ve seen Willie with someone I would later marry and divorce. I attended a picnic with someone I wished I had married. And, sadly, some of my picnic cronies are no longer with us.

But Willie is THE survivor.

His band has changed a bit in recent years, his signature braids and beard are a little whiter these days, but he continues to provide the soundtrack for the Fourth of July.

As the 2013 picnic nears, I am grateful to have been in the congregation that gathered in the Hill Country for a few days in July 40 years ago. I last saw Willie in Arlington in November. For a few minutes, I closed my eyes and could almost taste the dust.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Willie Nelson, handsome in braids and shades, for John Varvatos

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015


photos:  Danny Clinch
by: Rachel Haas
July 10, 2013

Fresh off a pretty cool 80th birthday celebration, country star Willie Nelson shows off his stylish side in some sleek black-and-white photos for John Varvatos’ Fall 2013 campaign.

The music legend poses beside his sons—Lukas Nelson, 24, and Micah Nelson, 23—in a Danny Clinch-snapped shot, while Willie is also featured solo in two portraits. No stranger to the advertising world, Nelson has also lent his voice to a Chipotle ad (covering Coldplay’s tearjerker “The Scientist”) as well as taking part in a commercial with Ryan Adams for Gap.

See more photos for the “Willie Nelson & Sons” campaign on the brand’s website, and watch the YARD-created video below to listen to the guys talk about music, growing up with Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash and perform “Still Is Still Moving to Me.”

directed by Danny Clinch




Willie Nelson and Paul English

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Willie Nelson at Work

Saturday, September 5th, 2015


Photograph by Ian Gittler / Used With Permission

Willie Nelson and Dwight Yoakam

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

img850 by you.

May 1998
by Mark Rowland
Photographs by Jay Blakesberg

Not far from the Santa Monica Pier one sunny afternoon, Dwight Yoakam and Willie Nelson were hanging out on Willie’s tour bus, listening to Nelson play … reggae. More precisely, they were listening to a tape of a record he’d just completed with producer Don Was, featuring reggaefied versions of great Willie Nelson songs like, “Three Days,” and “One in a Row,” along with a few classics of the genre like “The Harder They Come”

“Don Was could hear me singing reggae,” Nelson explained. “Cause I wasn’t too familiar with it. I just didn’t know it. But he could hear me doing my songs to a reggae rhythm.”

“That’s ironic,” Yoakum said, “’cause I’m doing a covers album, and I was gonna cover a Peter Tosh song. And listening to his stuff, there was a real emotional affinity to what they were doing in reggae, some of the early stuff, and what country was doing then.” There’s a certain melancholy essence with what you write and with some of those melodies. I think Don must have picked up on that.”

“Well,” Nelson replied, “you can take a really sad lyric and you put this rhythm behind it and it sort of leavens it a little bit, so the lyric doesn’t knock you down so much — you don’t want to get drunk and slash your wrists, you want to dance.” “You want to hear another one?”

Five minutes into their first joint interview ever, and Willie Nelson and Dwight Yoakam have staked out common ground in the Southern Caribbean. Somehow that shouldn’t surprise. After all, both musicians widened the frame of country music’s possibilities by combining a deep reverence for that music’s past with an idiosyncratic vision of its future.

Both made their mark despite initial indifference if not hostility from the Nashville establishment, fomenting their insurrections on the dance floors of Austin and Southern California, respectively, and putting the “W” back into C&W in the process. Within that milieu, it can easily be argued, both became the most influential singer/songwriters of their generations.

Yoakam, who grew up in the era of the ’60s rock concept album, spends years meticulously putting together records with his producer Pete Anderson. His effort shows; on each he’s found ways to expand his musical vocabulary, culminating with his latest effort, Gone, an album at once wildly inventive and polished to a blinding sheen.

Nelson, by contrast, grew up in the old school of Texas troubadours — write songs, make records when you can, hit the road. Since he cut his first sides nearly forty years ago he’s carved out a career of mythic proportion, and he’s never really showed down. ” I think that’ s just my personality and my character,” he says. “I’m not supposed to be sitting around much. I get bored real quick when I’m not doing something.”

Not to worry — along with the reggae record, Willie’s completed a trio album of original songs with sister Bobbie Nelson on piano and Johnny Gimble on fiddle, also scheduled for release later this year. He’d just returned from a tour of Australia with the Highwaymen before this interview, and as soon as it ended he cruised down the coast to begin a serious of duet shows with Leon Russell. He’s started work on a blues record, too.

“You know, if you listen to the people in each country you go into, it all sounds very much the same,” he was saying. “African country, Jamaincan country, the Swiss — have you been to Switzerland yet?”

“Oh, yeah,” said Yoakam.

“There’s some great country cowboys up there. Jamaicans go more with the heartbeat, their rhythms do. These guys were telling me that reggae came into existence by way of our country radio. That they were picking up the radio stations years ago, but they wouldn’t hear the bottom — so they put their own rhythms over what they heard. Now the biggest music in Jamaica is country and one of the biggest guys is Jim Reeves.”

Yoakam laughed. “Hey man, get a big sailboat and get ready to tour. You could be king there!”

Nelson nodded, “Well,” he said evenly, “it’s worth a shot.

Farm Aid

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015


Willie Nelson will host two Farm Aid restrospectives on TNN.  The Nashvill Network will highlight the 1996 Farm Aid concert in Columbia, SC.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
Singer Willie Nelson wearing cowboy hat and fringed coat in the desert; prob. nr. Las Vegas.

Singer Willie Nelson wearing cowboy hat and fringed coat in the desert; prob. nr. Las Vegas.

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Farm Aid 1997 (Lincoln, NE) (9/19/87)

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

by: L. Kent Wolgamott

Photos: Farm Aid III

On September 18, 1997, Memorial Stadium was full of fans. But not for football. The Huskers didn’t have a game on Sept. 19, 1987.

The stadium was packed for Farm Aid III, the biggest concert ever held in Nebraska and likely the largest single-day entertainment event in the state’s history.

Farm Aid III was a full day, starting at noon when Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson and his band Family launched into their trademark opener “Whiskey River” and ending 10 hours, 15 minutes later with Arlo Guthrie leading the day’s performers — and the crowd — through his father Woody’s “This Land is Your Land.”

In between, the concert featured the most impressive lineup to appear at any single Nebraska show before or since.

That lineup included Farm Aid leaders John Mellencamp and Neil Young; John Denver, whose band featured legendary guitarist James Burton; then newcomers Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, Steve Earle and Dave Alvin; Kris Kristofferson, who reunited with Rita Coolidge; Bonnie Bramlett with her band Bandaloo Doctors; Steppenwolf; Joe Walsh; The Fabulous Thunderbirds at the peak of their fame; a by-satellite Grateful Dead; and a rare, perhaps only Nebraska appearance by Lou Reed, who has not played the state since.

Reed, who performed with Mellencamp’s band, rocked his Velvet Underground classic “Sweet Jane” and his only hit, “Walk on the Wild Side.” Unlike most of the day’s performers, the always difficult Reed wouldn’t talk to the media, saying he didn’t know anything about agriculture, except that he eats, and was at the show only because he’d been requested to perform. Asked for a comment for print, Reed sarcastically quipped “Power to the people,” something he’s never believed.

In contrast, most of the performers, such as farm-raised John Conlee, and actor hosts, such as Dennis Hopper and “Hill Street Blues” star Charles Haid, happily talked about Farm Aid, the need to save family farms and the music, which, far more than the talk, was the point of the day.

Of Farm Aid’s three board members — Nelson, Mellencamp and Young — Nelson made appearances throughout the day, and Young played a solo acoustic set, debuting “This Note’s for You,” his wry anti-corporate anthem that became an MTV hit.

Tim Kechely, now co-owner of Fuse Recording, spent his day at Farm Aid running backstage sound systems for Dietze Music, then going onto the stage and into the stadium to watch the show.

“One thing that stands out in my mind is the camaraderie between all the different musicians,” said Kechely. “There seemed to be a real unity going on, a real friendliness. They were really into being a part of it.”

That same sense of togetherness could be felt in the stadium as well, he said.

“You could see it in the audience, feel it in the audience,” Kechely said. “It was one of those things you walked away from and felt super good about. They (performers) weren’t out there to make their latest song a hit. They were there to try to make a difference, for something bigger. So was the audience.”

That’s essentially the same view Nelson had of the show.

“(Farm Aid III was) one of the strongest concerts I’ve ever taken part in, both musically and in the response from the audience and the whole state,“ he wrote in “Willie Nelson,” his 1988 autobiography.

Most of the crowd was made up of Nebraskans. But the 69,000 in attendance did not make a sellout. Officials had held back 2,000 tickets for day-of-show sales and all of them did not sell. Nonetheless, there has never been a bigger concert in Nebraska, nor is there likely to be any that come close to 70,000 people in the future.

In part, that is because stadium concerts are not so prevalent as they were two decades ago; Memorial Stadium, with its enclosures and sky boxes, isn’t exactly a prime concert venue, and Lincoln is far from the million-plus metro areas where stadium shows now take place.

In fact, Farm Aid III almost didn’t happen because of technical problems in using the stadium for a show, most prominently because, at that time, trucks could not be driven onto the field. So 60 volunteers had to help carry staging, lights and other production equipment from the trucks onto the artificial turf.

University officials, particularly then-football coach Tom Osborne, were also concerned that thousands of people walking on the field smoking and drinking would damage the turf, which was covered by an eighth-inch black mat during the concert. That proved to be a false fear.

Immediately after the show, Osborne thought he had found a number of cigarette burns at the north end of the field. They really were marks made to locate the stage that disappeared when it rained the day after the concert. The only damage to the field was in two spots, each 6 to 9 inches in diameter.

Farm Aid III was a moderate financial success, but did not measure up to the amount raised by its predecessors.

The 67,581 tickets sold — the remaining attendance included 600 volunteers, media, security and concert personnel — accounted for $1.35 million. That was the same amount as the concert’s production costs, meeting the goal of organizers.

About $1 million was raised from donations called in during the concert’s syndicated television broadcast that covered about 85 percent of the country. Television ad revenue was the day’s disappointment, bringing in only $200,000 rather than the $600,000 organizers estimated initially. Merchandise sales of $100,000, a donation of $200,000 from Nebraska Cares and other income brought the final total that went to farmers to $1.5 million to $1.7 million.

The first Farm Aid show, held in Chicago in 1985, raised about $5 million. Farm Aid II, held at a racetrack in Manor, Texas, had a net of well over $2 million.

Farm Aid, which Nelson repeatedly said he’d like to end in a few years if farmers got back on their feet, soldiers on. The 22nd Farm Aid concert is set for Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa.

The sold-out show will draw 29,000 people, half of the number of Farm Aid III, to see a lineup that includes new Farm Aid board member Dave Matthews and Mellencamp, Young and Nelson.

Memorial Stadium will be packed on Saturday, too. This time the Huskers are playing. No guitars, drum kits and amps will be found inside, unlike a quarter-century ago.

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings

Monday, August 24th, 2015


Sunday, August 23rd, 2015


Phil Weisman sent this photo.

Willie Nelson for John Varvatos

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Willie Nelson in black and white, by Danny Clinch

by:  Chris Jordan

Who’s that handsome man in the aviator shades and the John Varvatos jacket?

Why, it’s Willie Nelson, sporting a new look thanks to the eye of Toms River photographer/filmmaker Danny Clinch.

Nelson, 80, and sons Lukas and Micah were photographed and filmed for a John Varvatos ad campaign in Des Moines by Clinch during the summer.

The campaign, called Willie Nelson and Sons, highlights the Varvatos fall and winter line. Full-page ads showing Nelson as photographed by Clinch have appeared this fall in magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue.

“We went out to Des Moines, and we caught him on the road,” Clinch said. “The tour bus pulled up in front of the location we were shooting at, and there’s an Indian painted on the side of the bus, and the Red Headed Stranger comes out. I think the beauty for me was to capture him with his boys.”

The fashion campaign’s short film, available at, is directed by Clinch and features the three Nelsons performing “Still is Still Moving to Me.”

“Willie doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do, and he loved the idea about him and his family,” Clinch said. “He’s about family and loyalty to the people of his inner circle. When we pitched the idea about his sons, he was pretty psyched.”

Clinch, an acclaimed rock photographer who has worked with numerous celebrities and musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, has done more than a dozen Varvatos campaigns, featuring Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Jimmy Page and Gary Clark Jr., the Roots, Cheap Trick and more.

Nelson, whose usual fashion attire includes a bandana and denim, also used one of Clinch Varvatos photos for the cover of his new album, “To All the Girls…”

“Willie was really into the photos we took, and he liked the way he looked,” Clinch said.