Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Andrew Bernstein dishes on Willie Nelson, Jerry Garcia and more in, “California Slim”

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


The story begins in 1962 with Andy and his then unknown banjo teacher, a young Jerry Garcia, finger picking in a back room at a music studio in Palo Alto, and ends in 1980 with Andy sharing joints and good times with the Willie Nelson Family. A skinny six-foot-seven-inch Jewish kid (later known as “California Slim”), Andy divided his time between the usual adolescent interests and music, for which he would go on to provide a capital M by promoting and staging concerts throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. His Palo Alto nightclub, Homer’s Warehouse, across the street from Stanford University, brought revolutionary musicians to young sensibilities hungry for new driving rhythms.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart once said, “There was a community in need of music, and music in need of a community.” That community was San Francisco in the ’60s and ’70s, and that music was rock ‘n’ roll.

Presenting every baby boomer’s musical dream, Andrew Bernstein’s “California Slim” takes readers on a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes psychedelic journey through San Francisco’s cultural and musical revolution.

The book provides a real taste of rock ‘n’ roll history, from the moment Bernstein was a 14-year-old kid taking banjo lessons from an unknown music teacher named Jerry Garcia, to the red carpet premier of Willie Nelson’s first movie, “Honeysuckle Rose.”

“California Slim: The Music, the Magic, and the Madness” By Andrew Bernstein ISBN: 978-1-4797-7045-8 Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Xlibris online bookstores

About the Author In 1969, Andrew Bernstein began working as a creative partner in Crimson Madness, a producer of light shows at Bill Graham’s famed Fillmore West. Bernstein also worked with the legendary B.B. King, Albert King, Iron Butterfly, Boz Skaggs, Grateful Dead, Original Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson and many others. He currently resides in San Francisco.

Willie Nelson’s FaceBook page is having a contest to win copy of “Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville.”

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Willie Nelson’s FaceBook page is having a contest to win copy of Michael Streissguth’s book, “Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville.”

COMMENT TO WIN:   If you and Willie ended up in jail together, in 5 words or less what would it be for?

We’ll chose a few of 3 our favs and send them a copy of the brand new book “Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville” by Michael Streissguth!

Winners will be chosen Fri 2/20 at 12PM CST and updated on this post! Open to fans worldwide.

Happy birthday, Susie Nelson

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Heartworn Memories A daughter’s personal biography of Willie Nelson by Susie Nelson

“I wouldn’t want anything to change his loyalty.  He has an enormous capacity for being loyal and, as a consequence, people are loyal to him.  Paul English stuck with Dad through the lean years, selling his rental property and going without pay in order to help Dad follow his dream.  His loyalty and consideration for other extends to everyone around him.

He is almost apologetic whenever he asks anyone to do something for him.  ‘It’s almost like he works for you,’ his pilot once told me.  He’s still the same appreciative boy from Abbott who used to ask for a ride to the baseball game in West.

In a way, Dad has never left Abbott, never forgotten where he came from.  He still drops in on his boyhood friends from Abbott, and he still remembera and keeps in touch with all of the folks who helped him on his way up.

Of course he has never lost his touch with the fans.  He will sign autographs as long as there is anybody asking for one.  He has said over and over again that he can’t understand performers who think they are bigger than their fans, who won’t sign autographs, who cut the shows short or don’t even show up.  ‘I always figure that if my audience shows up, I ought to show up too,’ he says.

The size of the audience doesn’t make any difference.  He’ll put on the same show for one person crowded around the bandstand as he will for 70,000 screaming fans.

Dad is an extraordinarily popular figure, a hero and an idol to millions around the world.  Very few people in history have the kind of following that Dad has.  For some people, going to one of Dad’s concert is like a religious experience.

I think the source of his great and enduring appeal is the fact that he truly believes that in the grand design of the universe, he is no more important, no more unique, no better than any other individual human being on the planet.  He communicates a true belief in equality, in tolerance, that we are all in this together.  That’s what his music is all about.  And that sums Dad up about as well as any I’ve heard.

Paul English tells a story that sums Dad up about as well as any I’ve heard.

After a concert, a woman came up to Dad, ‘I met you in San Antonio five years ago,’ she told him, ‘but I don’t suppose you remember me.’

‘No, I’m sorry, but I don’t,’ he answered, ‘but I sure appreciate you remember me.’

That’s my dad.  And I love him.”

– Susie Nelson

“Willie Nelson: An Epic Life” (by Joe Nick Patoski)

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

 The following article about Joe Nick Patoski’s great biography about Willie Nelson, “Willie Nelson:  An Epic Life” was first published in No Depression Magazine in 2004. Visit Joe Nick’s website to read the entire article, at :

Gonna Catch Tomorrow Now

No Depression
September-October 2004

LUCK, Texas, isn’t as easy to find as it used to be. Development has sprawled the entire 25 miles from downtown Austin to this idyllic little spot in the Hill Country near Lake Travis where Willie Nelson created his own universe more than two decades ago. The old corner store that was once a landmark is now a bank. The entrance gate is practically lost among the McMansions and ranchettes that have sprouted up.

This fact of life is not lost on the guy in the Willie Nelson T-shirt driving the mower over the fairway of the Briarcliff Country Club. After providing directions to a wayward tourist, he wisecracks, “Welcome to Oak Hill,” referring to the suburb fifteen miles closer to the city.

Still, there’s enough acreage surrounding Luck that once you stumble onto the dirt main street, you realize Willie Nelson’s home base is safely in a zone of its own. The cowboy town of faux buildings – including a feed store, barn, gunsmith, church, and bathhouse – hasn’t changed much since it was built for the film Red Headed Stranger in the early 1980s. Unchanged, but deteriorated to the point that Luck today looks less like an Old West movie set and more like a real 20th century small town in Texas that is drying up and blowing away. Whatever it is, it is Willie’s World. The rest of us are just visiting.

I had come for my last sit-down with Willie Hugh Nelson. I’d been writing about him since I hit Austin in 1973, a year after he did. I’ve spent the ensuing years listening, watching, and observing him as he played shows on flatbed trucks, in drive-in movie theaters (with Paul Simon sitting in, no less), in amphitheaters, in performing arts halls, and at too many July Fourth Picnics to count. Somewhere along the way, the television appearances, movie roles, and inductions to various halls of fame added up to Willie achieving some kind of sainthood, with just enough speed-crazed hustlers, soulful used-car salesmen, and honest-to-Sam-Houston characters to keep me engaged.

Like Austin, Willie too has changed along the way. He came to the game as a songwriter. Some say that particular skill fell by the wayside decades ago – that he’s sliding by on cruise control, that he hasn’t written a memorable song in years. And yet, in the midst of all his albums of cover songs, tribute songs, collaborative affairs with high-profile buddies, television specials, and films, he’s still continued to write songs – including an antiwar protest number that briefly stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy late last year. Not to mention enough straight-ahead country tunes to justify a full-blown album that may be his best work in ages (It Will Always Be, due October 26 on Lost Highway).


Turk Pipkin with “Angels Sing” DVD (available now!)

Thursday, December 12th, 2013


Turk Pipkin  holds the first DVD copy of, “Angels Sing”, which he and wife Christy presented to Willie Nelson in Las Vegas yesterday.    The movie, starring Harry Connick, Jr. and Connie Britton and featuring Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Lyle Lovett, is in out in theaters now, and is now also available on DVD, as well as available for streaming and rental.   A great holiday gift!


The movie, filmed in Austin Area, was based on book, “When Angels Sing”, written by Turk Pipkin.

Learn more about the movie and the incredible soundtrack (with Harry Connick, Jr., Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Marcia Ball and more) at


Purchase your copy now!





Willie Nelson’s guitar featured in “108 Rock Star Guitars”

Monday, December 9th, 2013

photo:  Lisa Johnson
by: Kiley Armstrong

Willie Nelson’s Trigger, named for movie-cowboy Roy Rogers’ horse, bears dozens of autographs, including Leon Russell, Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Gene Autry, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. Trigger’s top is worn clear through; Nelson chooses to leave it that way.

“The two of them,” notes the book, “continue to mature together.”


Willie Nelson writing new autiobiography

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

photo: Rick Diamond

Willie Nelson is putting pen to paper (or at least his fingers to the keyboard) and writing an “unvarnished” story of his life.

Although the country star has written an autobiography before (in 1988), he promises to tell all in his newest memoir, due out in 2015 and to be published by Little, Brown and Company.

It’s described as an “unvarnished, complete, and tremendous story” of the singer’s life, and the publisher promises that while there are printed works on Nelson already in existence, “none will be as personal or as wide in scope as this.”

So far, the book doesn’t have a title, but we imagine it will be a page-turner that every country music fan will want to place on their bookshelves. According to the publisher, “He starts at the beginning, revealing a tough little kid abandoned by his parents, and moves through his failures at various jobs, his early days as the self-starting proprietor of Willie Nelson Presents, his struggles in 1960s Nashville, and then on to the profound success he has had as one of America’s all-time most beloved singer-songwriters.”

Plus, he shares unheard stories of some of country’s most beloved artists, including Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and many more. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it?

With 80 years under his belt, Nelson’s memoir is sure to have good stories, sage-like advice and fascinating information about the man lovingly known as Shotgun Willie.

New Willie Nelson Autiobiography, “Unvarnished” (2015)

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

by Lauren James

The Red Headed Stranger will tell all in a planned memoir.

US singer songwriter Willie Nelson has snapped up a book deal that will allow him to get his autobiography published, reports USA Today. Published by Little, Brown in 2015, the memoir will apparently be and “unvarnished, complete, and tremendous” account of the country star’s life.

The 80 year-old musician is a safe bet for the publishing house: he has already written several books, including his 1988 autobiography Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From The Road but it seems that Nelson’s personal story needs an update.

The new book promises to be more personal than his other books, sharing untold stories that involve Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, the publisher has stated. However, Nelson’s life is fascinating on its own: the actor and musical performer was born in Texas during the Great Depression.

The son of a mechanic father, his mother left when he was young leaving Willie and his sister to be raised by their grandparents. Influenced by artists including Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Django Reinhardt, Willie earned money by singing from as young as 13. After stints working for television and radio stations in the fifties, Nelson cut his first record in 1956 and although it was not successful, he persevered with his music career and eventually signed a record deal in 1961.

To date, the Country Music Association Honouree has written some of the most popular country songs of all time, such as his hit, ‘Crazy.’ During his extensive and successful career, Nelson has written more than 2,500 songs and has released close to 300 albums, winning countless Grammys, American Music Awards and Country Music Awards along the way.

Willie Nelson’s as-yet untitled autobiography is slated for release in summer 2015.

New Willie Nelson Autobiography in 2015 from Little, Brown

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


“We’re delighted to announce that Little, Brown has acquired a new – and most definitive autobiography by American music legend Willie Nelson!

“Willie’s book will be authentic to the core and bursting with the stories, insight, and wild wit of this true American icon,”

John Parsley, Executive Editor
Little, Brown and Company

Angels Sing Movie Screening Friday, November 1st (Austin)

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


CTC invites you to welcome the holiday season by joining us for the special opening night viewing of Angels Sing!

Here at CTC we love to celebrate our friends, so we’ve teamed up with local writer and filmmaker Turk Pipkin to bring you a fun and family-friendly night at the screening of his new holiday film this Friday, November 1st.

Break out that ugly Christmas sweater and we’ll award a first place winner in our theater PLUS we’ll enter you for a chance to win a free iPad mini….

6:30 – Book signing with Turk Pipkin – your special CTC ticket includes a signed copy of Turk’s Christmas novel, When Angels Sing

6:50 – Ugly Christmas Sweater winner announced!

7:00 – Angels Sing screening

50% of the prices of your ticket benefits the initiatives of CTC and are in limited quantities!

Willie Nelson, “A Tale Out of Luck”

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

A Tale Out of Luck: A Novel
by Willie Nelson, with Mike Blakely
Publication:  September 3, 2008


Almost anything that can happen in a Western novel does happen in this engaging action-thriller that pairs the multitalented Willie Nelson with another Texas author, singer and songwriter, Mike Blakely.Okay, there’s no big cattle drive, so, alas, no stampede. But this oddly titled book has plenty of other plot twists, as well as some slick marketing tie-ins. For example, Willie Nelson just happens to own a Western movie-set town called “Luck, Texas,” near Austin. And Mr. Blakely of Marble Falls previously has announced on his Web site that he has co-written a Western novel “designed to adapt to the big screen, with Willie himself playing the lead role.” A Tale Out of Luck does indeed move along like a novel grafted onto the bones of a screenplay. Still, it delivers a good day’s read, both for diehard Western fans and those who haven’t opened a shoot-’em-up in a while.Set a few years after the Civil War, the story revolves around a retired Texas Ranger, Capt. Hank Tomlinson, who has founded a little town called “Luck.” (“Wherever you go, you’re either in Luck or out of Luck, son,” he likes to say.) Tomlinson is good with guns, horses, tracking and (surprise!) music.

But he doesn’t get to spend much time drinking and entertaining in Luck after his prized Kentucky thoroughbred goes missing, and so do his two sons, Jay Blue and Skeeter. They were supposed to be guarding the thoroughbred, but now, fearing the old Ranger’s wrath, they have fled and are trying to recover the expensive race horse.

There’s more, of course. A shadowy, dangerous opponent from his Ranger days once again wants to kill Capt. Tomlinson. An inept Army officer has attacked and stirred up the local Comanches. And the Reconstruction Republicans ruling Austin have disbanded the Texas Rangers, set up a new state police force and sent a policeman on horseback to arrest Capt. Tomlinson on suspicion of murder.

Hey, but there’s still a little time for some pickin’ and grinnin’, folks, before and after the climactic battle scenes.

A Tale Out of Luck is full-gallop entertainment, and it should be a reasonably lucky book for the two authors.

Willie Nelson’s book, ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’ out in paperback

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Willie Nelson’s book, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” is out in paperback now.  The book, published in hard cover last fall, is published by William Morrow, on sale for $14.99). 

“Something about what he is doing is working. He is really honestly connecting with people in a way that’s different than most artists or entertainers. Everybody thinks that they’re Willie’s friend and that’s true, from the doorman, to the guy loading the garbage truck. I’ve been around with Dylan. People are in awe of Bob Dylan, but they certainly don’t come over and say, ‘Hey, Bob, how are you? My name’s Bill.’ And it’s a good thing they don’t.” — Kinky Friedman

Willie Nelson:

on exercise:
“Work out, work out, and work out.”

on drug legalization:
“Addiction should be treated as a disease.”

and on President Obama:
“I think that once you become President, the first thing you realize is that you can’t do shit.”

Make your own cute Willie Nelson Doll

Saturday, October 19th, 2013



Willie Nelson: An Epic Life (by Joe Nick Patoski)

Monday, October 14th, 2013

For more info on this book, and its author Joe Nick Patoski, visit his site at
by Acidica

I recently finished reading the Willie Nelson biography wrote by Joe Nick Patoski called An Epic Life. This was the second bio I have read about Willie Nelson, the first one being about 15 years ago. I enjoyed this book much more, some of it is because I am a bigger fan of him now and am more interested in his story. But overall, it is a well written book and covers his whole life up to 2008. Willie has lived quite the life and seems like such a down to earth guy, not worried about money or what people think of him and such. He seems like the kind of guy that would take time to actually talk to you and listen to your stories, be a great honour I think to meet ol’ Willie. He truly is an original outlaw, how many people can say they smoked a joint on the roof of The White House. Well, Willie can!!!

If you have any interest in Willie Nelson or country music period, this is a book well worth looking into. Highly recommended reading material.


Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

by: Abby McGanney Nolan

Like punk rock and gangsta rock after it, outlaw country is part of an old, sometimes lucrative American tradition of celebrating defiance in song. Michael Streissguth’s engaging cultural history of outlaw country reminds us of the artistry that went into marketing triumphs like Wanted! The Outlaws, the 1976 compilation album that looked like a bullet-riddled, Old West-era, dead-or-alive poster and became country music’s first certified million-selling LP.

A professor at Le Moyne College, Streissguth has previously written books and made two documentaries about Johnny Cash, whose influence on Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson soon becomes apparent in this account. Through his prison concerts and the national TV show he broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry’s Ryman Auditorium, Cash demonstrated how to move between the Nashville establishment and the rest of the world while living by his own rules. Cash, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson came together as The Highwaymen e_SEnD a moniker suggesting considerable touring time as well as a certain amount of criminality – in 1985.

Streissguth’s focus, though, is on the years between 1965 and ’75, when a group of individuals and shifting societal currents managed to change how Nashville operated. This story’s central three renegades were all from Texas but arrived at country music’s capital from different angles. Born in Brownsville, Kristofferson was a high school football star in California and a Rhodes scholar before joining the Army. He came to Nashville with a head full of stories and lyrics, and raised extra cash by flying helicopters to Gulf of Mexico oil rigs. By 1965, Nelson – from central Texas – had gained acclaim for his stellar songwriting (“Crazy,” “Night Life,” “Funny How Time Slips Away”) and live performances, but as a recording artist he suffered from uninspiring production and insufficient promotion. Hailing from West Texas, Jennings had developed “a restless union of country and rock” after playing in Buddy Holly’s road band, but he also struggled against the assembly-line strictures of the Nashville Sound.

All three simply wanted to make the music they heard in their heads, and Streissguth pinpoints their great gifts along with their frustrations when Nashville’s decision makers wouldn’t get out of their way. Kristofferson’s rambling ballads featured “smart turns of phrase and knowing maturity” that helped inspire the 1970s singer-songwriter phenomenon. The “PG overtones of his songs” were somewhat shocking at the time, but Streissguth notes that they “echo still in today’s country music.” Jennings combined a “rough baritone” with songwriting chops and a percussive live show, and Nelson’s “hard Texas twang . . . danced and flirted with the rhythm,” but it wasn’t until they won the right to record with producers and musicians of their choosing that they achieved commercial and artistic success simultaneously.

Alongside these musical evolutions, Streissguth tells of Nashville’s transformation from a clean-cut and segregated city in the ’50s into a dynamic, somewhat dilapidated cultural capital in the mid-’70s, one worthy of movie director Robert Altman’s sharp, satirical eye. In addition to depicting country music’s hierarchies, Altman’s Nashville showed how the freewheeling ethos of the ’60s had made its way into corners of the city. Glaser Sound Studios (dubbed Hillbilly Central) and clubs like Exit/In fostered uninhibited collaboration. As songwriter Mickey Newbury remarked back then, “Nashville’s a great place to be right now – like Paris in the twenties – a place where you can get together with people and rap.” Alert to other perspectives, Streissguth starts the next chapter with Kinky Friedman’s terse rebuttal: “Paris of the thirties, my ass. It was one big con.” (And, yes, the ’20s and ’30s must have blended together by the 1970s.)

Friedman was no doubt fonder of Austin, Texas, which had live-music venues that Streissguth paints as cross-cultural hotbeds, their bellowing crowds made up of hippies, cowboys, truck drivers and state office workers. Nelson found a new home there, as well as a new look. He “often wore a cowboy hat, and with every passing week . . . his hair dropped lower and the whiskers on his face multiplied. . . . He had gone from looking like a singing insurance peddler to the spiritual leader of a back to nature pod.