Portrait of Willie Nelson and Family during photo shoot at the Golden Nugget Hotel.
Las Vegas, Nevada 8/1978
(Image # 1151 )
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Tunin’ Tom, a/k/a Thomas Hawkins, has been tuning Bobbie Nelson’s piano for years, and here he is tuning Neil Young’s piano before the Farm Aid concert in Chicago on 9/19/15.
Thanks to Kevin Smith, Willie Nelson’s bass player, for sharing this photo of his fellow Willie Nelson & Family Member, Tunin Tom.
“One night an old man walked up behind me and looked at my mixing station,” begins Lemons. “He asked, ‘Why do you need all this stuff for Willie Nelson?’ I told him, ‘So that 5,000 people can listen to Willie, and it sounds like he’s playing on their front porch.’ He just nodded and walked away.”
by: Frank Hammel
AUSTIN, Texas — Bobby Lemons, FOH engineer for Willie Nelson, credits PreSonus’ ADL 700 for help him bring the music to Nelson’s fans.
More details from PreSonus (www.presonus.com):
If you’re a live-sound engineer who can handle the lifestyle, you might wish you had Bobby Lemons’ gig handling front-of-house for Willie Nelson. Nelson and his Family Band tour almost constantly, and Lemons loves it. But as hard as he works, he says he is doing his job right if you don’t realize he’s there. Indeed, that’s the biggest reason Lemons uses the PreSonus ADL 700 tube channel strip.
“One night an old man walked up behind me and looked at my mixing station,” begins Lemons. “He asked, ‘Why do you need all this stuff for Willie Nelson?’ I told him, ‘So that 5,000 people can listen to Willie, and it sounds like he’s playing on their front porch.’ He just nodded and walked away. That’s when I realized that I’m trying to be invisible. The same with the equipment, and that’s where the ADL 700 comes in. It’s like a rhythm guitar: You don’t notice it’s there until you take it out—but then you notice.”
Lemons got his start as a banjo player in a bluegrass band. He owned the PA and quickly figured out he could make more money renting out the system when the band wasn’t working than he made as a player. “It was easily as much fun mixing the shows,” he muses. “I grew up with electronics; I was one of those kids who wanted a soldering iron for my tenth birthday, not a baseball glove. So after college, I got more PA gear and started mixing around Austin, and I got to know everybody. I did a show with Willie Nelson and Guy Clark before they were big, and I eventually hooked up with B.W. Stevenson, who was a hell of a singer.”
Later, Lemons became tour manager and front-of-house engineer for Jerry Jeff Walker. “We were the opening act for a lot of artists, and we all toured together, so everyone in Austin knew me,” recalls Lemons. “Willie had some dates, and his regular engineer was out doing the Commodores, so they called me. I lived right down the road. We went out for 3 days, and that turned into 12 days; then Willie asked, ‘Can we keep this guy?’ I’ve been with him ever since.”
Lemons could use any processing he wants on Nelson’s voice, and he has tried other solutions, but now he sticks with the ADL 700. “Willie has an incredible voice, with amazing control,” Lemons observes. “It’s a little bit peaky, and he wanders a bit with it, and I was looking for something that was unobtrusive—something transparent—but that also gave me choices. The ADL 700 turned out to be a great solution, and it still is.”
Nelson trusts Lemons to make the decisions about the mix, mic selection, and vocal processing. “Once you get a feel for what he wants, then he trusts you to do it,” Lemons explains. “Trust is the whole game. If you don’t have the confidence of the artist, no matter how technically good you are, it won’t work.” Part of that trust comes from Lemons’ deep respect for Nelson’s ears and preferences. “Willie listens to a lot of show recordings, and anytime I come up with something different, I’ll sit with him, and we’ll listen to recordings together. When I started using the ADL 700, he heard a difference, and he liked what he heard.”
The ADL 700’s FET compressor is a particular favorite. “I’m using more compression than it sounds like,” Lemons reveals. “I’ll put 7 or 8 dB of compression on Willie’s voice. With a lot of compressors, that would not be musical, but the ADL 700 compressor is still transparent. Any compressor can do a couple of dB without being noticeable but if you can get 5 or 7 dB without it being noticeable, then it’s great.”
Although Lemons would rather not use EQ, he generally does use the ADL 700’s semi-parametric EQ on Nelson’s voice. “As much as I like the big console, I prefer to keep the input strip on Willie’s mic neutral and use the EQ on the ADL 700,” he explains. “With the ADL 700, I can reach over and turn the knob just an eighth of a turn, and I notice a big difference.” He also takes advantage of the ability to swap the order of the compressor and EQ. “The ADL compression is so smooth, I generally use it ahead of the EQ,” he says, “but sometimes I use the EQ first. It depends on how much EQ I’m using.”
Lemons repeatedly emphasizes that his job, and that of his gear, is to be invisible. “If Willie is tired or doesn’t feel well, the ADL’s input gain can help a bit, but I make no music here,” he insists. “If the band is on top of it, I can hardly screw it up, and if it’s not happening onstage, there’s nothing I can do to make it happen. I’m a delivery system, and I try to make the sound as clean as possible; I don’t even use reverb. If nobody notices that I’m here, so the focus stays on Willie, then I’ve won. The ADL 700 fits that philosophy perfectly.”
For more information about the PreSonus ADL 700, please visit www.presonus.com/products/ADL-700.
Hear Willie Nelson and the ADL 700 in person. For tour dates, visit http://willienelson.com/tour.
David Anderson, long time tour manager and Willie Nelson & Family member, has been off the road for some personal time, and everyone was happy to see him on the 4th of July in Austin. Ray Wiley Hubbard greated David with a big smile and a big hug.
“I miss my job. I miss the entire road Family. I miss my bus. I miss setting up the lights and hanging the flag. I miss Dinner at 5:30. I miss my routine.
I miss the excitement of the crowd at their first sight of Willie as he strolls onstage, I miss seeing the Texas Flag coming out of it’s bag at the beginning of the show.
I miss telling the spotlight operators to make sure and get a good shot of Bobbie when she does her piano solos and to get ready because Mickey is next and to watch out because he does not stand still.
I miss lighting up the audience and letting Willie see his fans singing back to him and them knowing he is catching their energy. I miss me chasing Willie. I miss those quick left turns he sometimes takes.
I miss it all, but mostly I miss the bonus of getting to see and hear Willie play and sing almost every night while I work. It is Fun. It’s my normal………and I can’t wait to get back.”— Budrock
Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out the car window.
I called down to Texas to visit with Budrock “The Illuminator” Prewitt, Lighting Director for Willie Nelson & Family, to see how he was healing from his injury in June. Buddy was injured working at a Willie Nelson show, when a freak accident caused him to break his heel, sprain some things and tear up some other things. He has been home, off the road, waiting for the swelling to go down so surgeons and other medical experts can work on it and help put him back together for the road. Most recent xrays in July show no change from June, and the doctors are still telling him to stay put for a couple months.
“I have a wheelchair, Crutches, 2 Knee Scooters(One for upstairs), & a golf cart, but none of em have the ability to keep up with the bus. I can now drive again but not very far because I can’t get the foot comfortable in the truck. I did get a handicap placard for my vehicle, so I don’t have to crutch it too far when I do get out.”
I am used to making things happen…..in a hurry and efficiently. There is nothing going on here that seems to be an immediate priority. I feel like a grain of sand in the desert.
Cabin Fever is setting in.
photos: Janis Tillerson
Lovey enjoyed the music from the side of the stage.
“Copper the dog just took Dad to work for the first time today. Next stop Ft Worth Stockyards, Willie’s Annual Fourth of July Picnic. With Jimmy the driver , Budrock the (injured) Great Illuminator, Aaron Foye must have been fastening his seat belt because I didn’t see him or Kenny.” — Margie Lemons
We’re sure all going to miss seeing Buddy and Margie in Fort Worth.
The title track from Willie Nelson’s new ‘Band of Brothers’ album could be a theme song for his motley group of players and friends. The singer has released a video for the song that showcases the crew having fun backstage and off stage. During this ToC video premiere, fans get a look at a more relaxed — almost silly — country music legend.
Much of the ‘Band of Brothers’ video is focused on a high-stakes game of dominoes that involves family, friends and actor Woody Harrelson. A few dollars get tossed around during the contest, and creative stop-motion camera work shows the game’s pieces turning into various characters, like a peace sign.
“We’re a band of brothers and sisters and whatever / On a mission to break all the rules / And I know you love me cause I love you too / But you can’t tell me what to do,” Nelson sings during the ‘Band of Brothers’ chorus. Poker and chess are also played, and one woman takes to skateboarding.
The new album — released on June 17 — features nine new songs co-written by Nelson. In total there are 14 tracks, including a cover of Vince Gill‘s ‘Whenever You Come Around’ and Billy Joe Shaver’s ‘The Git Go,’ a collaboration with Jamey Johnson. The album comes after the success of ‘To All the Girls,’ Nelson’s first Top 10 album in 30 years. The 80-year-old continues to tour and shows no signs of bringing his studio work to an end.
Read More: Willie Nelson’s ‘Band of Brothers’ Video Goes Backstage | http://tasteofcountry.com/willie-nelson-band-of-brothers-video/?trackback=tsmclip