Archive for the ‘This Day in Willie Nelson History’ Category

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Always on My Mind” CMA Single of the Year (10/11/1982)

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Oct. 11, 1982: Springfield songwriter Wayne Carson shared the award for Song of the Year from the Country Music Association in Nashville. Carson wrote, “Always on My Mind” with Johnny Christopher and Mark James.

It also won the award for Single of the Year, which was accepted by popular star Willie Nelson, who made the song famous.

Always on My Mind is the thirtieth studio album by country singer Willie Nelson. It was the Billboard number one country album of the year for 1982, and stayed 253 weeks on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts, peaking at number one for a total of 22 weeks, as well as spending 99 weeks on the Billboard 200 for all albums, peaking at number two for 3 weeks.

During the recording sessions for Nelson’s collaboration album with Merle Haggard, Pancho & Lefty, the producer Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons suggested that they record Johnny Christopher’s “Always on My Mind“.[2] Haggard had no interest in recording a version of the song for the album, so instead Nelson recorded his own version—the first for the album entitled Always on My Mind. In his autobiography, Nelson stated: “We’ll never know what would have happened if Merle had really heard the song right. ‘Always on My Mind’ bowled me over the moment I first heard it, which is one way I pick songs to record”.[3]

The rest of the album was constituted by adult-contemporary and pop standards, such as “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and Paul Simon‘s “Bridge Over Troubled Water“,[4] as well as re-recordings of his own songs including “Permanently Lonely” (originally recorded for 1969’s Good Times LP) and “The Party’s Over” (originally recorded for The Party’s Over released in 1967).

A 2003 re-release of the album included two bonus tracks: “The Man Who Owes Everyone” and “I’m a Memory” (another re-recording of an earlier release).

Track listing[edit]

  1. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (Chips Moman, Dan Penn) – 2:58
  2. Always on My Mind” (Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne Carson Thompson) – 3:34
  3. A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Matthew Fisher) – 4:01
  4. Let It Be Me” (Mann Curtis, Pierre Delanoë, Gilbert Bécaud) – 3:33
  5. “Staring Each Other Down” (Chips Moman, Bobby Emmons) – 2:16
  6. Bridge over Troubled Water” (Paul Simon) – 4:39
  7. “Old Fords and a Natural Stone” (Bobby Emmons, Chips Moman) – 2:33
  8. “Permanently Lonely” (Willie Nelson) – 2:41
  9. Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” (Gary P. Nunn, Donna Sioux Farar) – 4:22
  10. The Party’s Over” (Willie Nelson) – 2:52

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” #1 on Billboard (Oct. 5, 1975)

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

www.countrycommon.com
by: Robyn Collins

On this day in 1975, Willie Nelson picked up his first Number One single as an artist on the Billboard country chart with “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.”

The red-headed stranger had other Number One hits that he wrote, before he chalked up his own, which incidentally, he did not write.

Nelson wrote songs like “Crazy” which was a career maker for country trailblazer Patsy Cline, as well as “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), and “Pretty Paper” (Roy Orbison).

The song was originally recorded in 1947 by Roy Acuff, and then recorded by Hank Williams in 1951 for the Mother’s Best Flour Hour.

Whispering Bill Anderson put the song on his album Sings Country Heart Songs in 1962 and Conway Twitty recorded it for Hello Darlin’ in 1970.

The song gave Nelson some crossover success, making it to Number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1986, a motion picture adaptation of the storyline was made from the song, and a music video for the single.

The legendary artist, who is still touring, recently posted some insightful thoughts, “We are the same, There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people. They laugh, cry, feel and love and music seems to be a common denomination that brings us all together. Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

“Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain”

In the twilight glow I see them
Blue eyes cryin’ in the rain
When we kissed goodbye and parted
I knew we’d never meet again

Love is like a dyin’ ember
Only memories remain
Through the ages I’ll remember
Blue eyes cryin’ in the rain

Some day when we meet up yonder
We’ll stroll hand in hand again
In a land that knows no partin’
Blue eyes cryin’ in the rain

Now my hair has turned to silver
All my life I’ve loved in vain
I can see her star in heaven
Blue eyes crying in the rain

This day in Willie Nelson History: Farm Aid 25 (Milwaukee, WI) (Oct. 2, 2010)

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Farm Aid 25th Anniversary Concert at Miller Park on October 2, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

photo:  P. Natkin

Rolling Stone
November 2010
by Austin Scaggs

On the morning of Farm Aid’s 25th anniversary concert in Milwaukee, as rain pelted his tour bus, Willie Nelson reminisced about how it began.  “I remember hearing Bob Dylan say at Live Aid, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if some of this money stayed here for the farmers?’” said Nelson, holding court at the dining table, with a pack of Zig-Zags and a lighter in his left hand. “I said, ‘The man’s right!  We should take care of our own!”


www.FarmAid.org

www.uwmpost.com

Eleven hours and 16 acts later (including fellow Farm Aid board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, as well as Jeff Tweedy, Nora Jones, Band of Horses and Kenny Chesney, Nelson closed the 25th Farm Aid with a surprise guest:  Steven Tyler, who injected life into the marathon concert and inspired the loudest roar of the day from the 35,000.  The pair dueted on the Tyler-penned country ballad, “One Time Too Many” and Aerosmith’s “Once is Enough” as their Farm Aid co-stars watched from the wings.   “Just to sit on the side of the stage and watch Willie is the coolest,” said Matthews.  “He’s my hero.”

With rain falling and temperatures in the 40s, a decision was made early to close Miller Park’s retractable roof.  “It’s like playing in a giant plastic ball,” Matthews remarked, but Young used the staium’s booming acoustics to his advantage, creating swirls of feedback during his solo electric set on classics like “Down by the River,” “Ohio” and “Long May You Run.”

“Factory farms are the reason we have food alerts,” Young told the crowd.  “They are the reason why we have dying people and disease.”  Young — joined by Matthews, Mellencamp and Nelson — closed his set with the 1970’s jam, “Homegrown,” a Farm Aid staple.

Matthews — in his 13th Farm Aid performance since 1995 — appeared with guitarist Tim Reynolds and hit on “All Along the Watchtower,” “Don’t Drink the Water” and cuts from his 2003 solo album, “Some Devil.

“There is a sincerity in this organization that is unlike a lot of charitable concerts,” Matthews said, hanging out in his tour bus.  “Like Live Earth — that left a bad taste in my mouth.  But with Farm Aid there’s an honesty and a real clear goal that is to raise awareness about the unforgivable way that the government treats the small farmers in America, where a majority of subsidies go to giant corporations and big agribusinesses.”

Nora Jones, alternating between guitar and piano, sauntered through “Come Away With Me,” Johnny Cash’s “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart” (Hank Williams’ lyrics set to music by Jones).  After celebrating her first Farm Aid in the dugout with a vodka cocktail, Jones re-emerged for the all-star finale of “Good Hearted Woman,” a song Nelson wrote with Waylon Jennings.

This year’s event raised more than $2 million, bringing Farm Aid’s 25-year total to $39 million.  “I was seven when I watched the first Farm Aid on TV,” marveled Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell backstage.  “I’ve known about it longer than I’ve known my colors or how to do long division.  You say yes to just be in these dude’s company, but the fact that we’re in this for the most noble of causes makes it so fucking cool.”

“As the family farmer goes, so goes America,” John Mellencamp said, before tearing through “Pink Houses,” “Save Some Time to Dream” and “Scarecrow,” which he also performed at the inaugural benefit, held in Champaign, Illionis in 1985.

Before his set, he puffed on American Spirits in his Airstream trailer outside the venue.  Mellencamp reminisced about that first show, “Everybody in the fucking world was there,” he said.  “And I remember, for 45 minutes after the show, I had to wait on the bus for Willie, who was out there signing autographs.  When he finally got on the bus, I asked, ‘What the fuck took so long, Willie?’  And he goes, ‘Something you should think about.  I’ve got to take care of the people who take care of us.’”

Jen Bronenkant took this great photo of Willie Nelson and Steven Tyler at the Farm Aid concert in Milwaukee, on October 2, 2010.

Mellencamp, who noted taht Farm Aid is the longest-running music charity in history, also had a request.  “Willie deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.  We’re all just Willie’s little helpers.”

I encourage you to purchase the November 2010 Rolling Stone.

This day in Willie Nelson history, “To All the Girls” New Willie Nelson Duets Album (September 24, 2013)

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

to all the girls

http://blog.gactv.com

Willie Nelson has teamed up with some of his favorite women for his latest album, To All The Girls, set to be released September 24. The project is a collection of newly-recorded duets between Willie and his dream list of contemporary pop-country female singers.

To All The Girls is Willie’s third full-length album of new music to be released in the last 16 months as he continues to celebrate his 80th birthday year. Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Wynonna Judd, Norah Jones and Brandi Carlile are among the 18 female artists featured on the project.

2013 has been a big year for Willie. Besides turning 80 releasing three new albums, he also penned a memoir, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die – Musings From The Road. The cover art of To All The Girls features Willie dressed in duds by fashion designer John Varvatos. Willie and his sons, Lukas and Micah, are the faces of the brand’s 2013 campaign.

Willie Nelson – To All The Girls track list

To All The Girls Track Listing:

1. Dolly Parton – From Here To The Moon And Back
2. Miranda Lambert – She Was No Good For Me
3. Secret Sisters – It Won’t Be Very Long
4. Rosanne Cash – Please Don’t Tell Me
5. Sheryl Crow – Far Away Places
6. Wynonna Judd – Bloody Mary Morning
7. Carrie Underwood – Always On My Mind
8. Loretta Lynn – Somewhere Between
9. Alison Krauss – No Mas Amor
10. Melonie Cannon – Back On Earth
11. Mavis Staples – Grandma’s Hands
12. Norah Jones – Walkin’
13. Shelby Lynne – Til The End Of The World
14. Lily Meola – Will You Remember Mine
15. Emmylou Harris – Dry Lightning
16. Brandi Carlile – Making Believe
17. Paula Nelson – Have You Ever Seen The Rain
18. Tina Rose – After The Fire Is Gone

This day in Willie Nelson History: Farm Aid 2013

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on September 21, 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Pete Seeger made an appearance, his last public performance, and led the Farm Aid Board Members and the Farm Aid crowd with, “This Land is Your Land”.

John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Pege Seeger, Dave Matthews, Neil Young at Farm Aid at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on September 21, 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Farm Aid 2013

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Willie Nelson at Farm Aid at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on September 21, 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

This day in Willie Nelson history: Patsy Cline records “Crazy” (August 21, 1961)

Monday, August 21st, 2017

On August 21, 1961, Patsy Cline records Crazy at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville

This day in Willie Nelson history: Farm Aid XXVI (Kansas City, MO) (August 13, 2011)

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

by SharonOnTheMove

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I took this one; such a sweet look

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I took this photo

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photo: Mary Francis Andrews

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photo: Mary Francis Andrews

This day in Willie Nelson History, “One for the Road” (with Leon Russell) certified Gold (August 2, 1979)

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

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On August 2, 1979, “One For The Road,” a duet album featuring Willie Nelson & Leon Russell, goes gold.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Swing Vote” movie opens (August 1, 2008)

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

On August 1, 2008, the Kevin Costner movie “Swing Vote” debuted in theaters featuring cameo by Willie Nelson. Also in the movie: Kelsey Grammer, Larry King, Dennis Hopper and Richard Petty.

Willie Nelson filmed a scene for the Kevin Kostner movie “Swing Vote” at the Harn Homestead and Museum in Oklahoma City (www.harnhomestead.com). Willie was also in town performing in Last of Breed tour with Merle Haggard and Ray Price.

Cher Golding, executive director of the Museum, kindly sent pictures of Willie being filmed, and Willie posing with the staff at the museum.

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“Attached are a few photos of the shoot at the Harn Homestead Museum. Willie played ‘Always on my Mind’ in front of our Event Barn. After filming, he signed a few autographs and posed for photos with the Harn Homestead Museum staff.”

Cher L. Golding, Executive Director
Harn Homestead Museum
Oklahoma City, OK
www.harnhomestead.com

This day in Willie Nelson history: Willie Nelson fills in for ill Natalie Cole at Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles (July 9, 2008)

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

cryintime

In a bit of serendipitous timing, Willie Nelson will take over for Natalie Cole, who was forced by illness to cancel her scheduled appearance Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Nelson and Marsalis will re-create some of the music from their collaboration early last year when they played four shows at Lincoln Center, performances documented on the album “Two Men With the Blues,” being released today.

The pair’s only scheduled public performance together in conjunction with the album’s release had been an appearance Thursday on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

This day in Willie Nelson History: Nashville Star (April 3, 2004)

Monday, April 3rd, 2017
www.USANetwork.com
EPISODE 5: WILLIE SONGS
EPISODE PREMIERE: April 3, 2004

This week’s Nashville Star featured a guest appearance by music legend Willie Nelson, and six of the eight remaining contestants were faced with the daunting challenge of performing some of Willie’s best-loved songs in front of the man himself! The two contestants who received the fewest number of votes after last week’s show were sent home.

Willie kicked the show off with a performance of his classic “Whiskey River” as the contestants watched from the audience, and the BellSouth Acuff Theatre erupted into thunderous applause. The contestants then joined Willie on stage and all had an opportunity to shake the legend’s hand before he took his seat in the theatre.

Later, the contestants shared their thoughts on why Willie Nelson is an icon: “He’s shown us that we don’t have to go through the door that everyone wants us to go through,” George Canyon said. When asked about the pressure of performing in front of Willie, George said “As long as I stay conscious, I’ll be OK.”

“Not only does he write truthful songs from his heart,” Brad Cotter said, “but you feel like he’s lived them.” “This is royalty,” Marty Slayton agreed. “For our business he’s as good as it gets.”

Sheila Marshall commented, “He connects with everyone.” “He’s a storyteller, he’s a singer, he’s a stylist, he’s a writer, he’s an icon,” Matt Lindahl expounded. “You can’t get around it. But I bet you if you really got a chance to sit down and talk to Willie Nelson, he’s ‘just folks,’ too.”

“He just seems like your friend,” Brent Keith agreed. “I’ve waited my whole life to meet Willie Nelson, and oh my God, I’m going to!” Jennifer Hicks exclaimed.

Host Nancy O’Dell announced that the evening’s show would consist of performances only by those contestants remaining in the competition. With only six performance slots and eight performers remaining, tensions ran high each time Nancy read out a name.

Fairfield, Illinois native Lance Miller was selected to perform first. When Nancy asked him how he felt about being the first to perform after Willie himself, he said, “I’ve heard Willie talk about living in the moment and enjoying the now, and I’m gonna enjoy this for a minute.” Lance’s performance was a confident and original version of “On the Road Again,” during which Willie clapped along. Afterwards, Tracy Gershon said, “One of the things I look for is somebody who can perform under pressure. You just sang a Willie song with Willie in the audience. Baby, you just proved yourself!” “I didn’t think you’d be around until the end,” Billy Greenwood said, “but tonight you definitely proved me wrong.” Brett Warren said, “You’re a country star, and I would buy your record.” “Dude, Willie Nelson just opened for you!” Brad Warren added.

The next person who earned a performance slot was the pride of Snellville, Georgia, Matt Lindahl. Wearing dark overalls under a black jacket (and, of course, his trademark red ball cap), Matt took a more serious turn by singing the gospel-flavored “Uncloudy Day,” as Willie clapped along. “I have asked you week after week to show us what you could do, and you just did it,” Billy commented. “You showed America tonight you could really sing,” Brad added. “It’s a tough vocal race right now… you’ve got some tough competition,” Tracy concluded, to which Matt replied, “I know it; I live with them!”

Next it was time for the latest Hot Spot segment. Last week, the contestants received a phone call from NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, who invited them to sing in front of 160,000 people at the Bristol Motor Speedway during pre-race festivities for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Food City 500. At the race, the contestants had their first experience of fans recognizing them from being on TV, and had plenty of time to sign autographs and hand out merchandise before having the opportunity to meet Johnson in person. There was more on the race later in the show.

At this point there were only four performance slots left, with six contestants hoping to fill them. Alabama’s Brad Cotter, who now lives in Nashville, was called next. Like last week, he played the keyboard, and this time he sang a passionate version of “The Last Thing I Needed.” He also related the story of how he hadn’t been allowed to listen to anything but gospel music while he was growing up, but this song was one of the earliest ones he enjoyed and he used to sneak listening to it on his headphones. His performance earned him a standing ovation from Willie himself! Brett said, “When we were growing up we weren’t allowed to listen to anything but Christian music either. That performance was awesome, and if there’s a jukebox in heaven, I’m pretty sure Willie Nelson‘s on it.” Tracy said, “You are really becoming a front runner… watch the coffee in the morning, because if I were another contestant, I might poison it!”

Canada’s George Canyon was called up next. “I’ve been a Willie Nelson fan and he’s been a hero of mine for 28 years,” he said. His performance of “Seven Spanish Angels” also earned a standing ovation from Willie. “You’re like our resident Boy Scout,” Tracy said. “You’re steadfast, true, and we can always count on you for great performance.” Brad said, “I’d be willing to bet a couple million dollars of Sony’s money that there’s a couple million people who would buy your record.” When Nancy O’Dell asked George what he’d say to Willie, seeing him in the front row, he said, “Willie, please come up and sing with me!”

Next Nancy checked in with Willie to see what advice he would give to the contestants. “They’re all so good,” he replied. “I’m glad I’m not a judge!”

Then it was back to the Hot Spot segment for more coverage of the contestants’ visit to the Bristol Motor Speedway, where they sang “America the Beautiful” as paratroopers with an American flag made a picture-perfect landing on the track. “We watched the race from the best seats in the house,” Brad said. “Richard Petty watched from same place.” Lance added, “I kept thinking they’d ask me to leave, but they never did.” Jennifer commented on the dizzying pace and busy schedules the contestants keep each week. “You get exhausted, but you can’t whine because you’re dying to do it – and you might not get to do it next week!”

Jennifer Hicks was, in fact, the next contestant selected to take the stage, and her performance of “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” also earned a standing ovation from Willie. Billy said, “You belong on the show, and you showed it again tonight.” Brett said, “Jennifer, you cry more than Chris Cagle, but you’re America’s next sweetheart. I think you are awesome – you’re great.” “You can’t make a bad choice when you have the Willie catalog to choose from,” Tracy concluded, “but that was a great choice.”

Now there were only three contestants remaining – and just one performance slot. Nancy brought Marty Slayton, Brent Keith, and Sheila Marshall onto the stage, and they sweated it out through a commercial break.

When we returned, we learned that the first person we would say goodbye to this evening was Sheila Marshall. “You know I’m a big fan, and you have a bright future ahead of you,” Nancy told her. “Thank you, I love y’all, and thanks for your support,” Sheila said. “I want to thank the judges, Nashville Star and USA Network, everyone in Texas that voted, my husband, and my mom.”

Next, Nancy read the name of the final performer for the evening, and it was.. Brent Keith, meaning that Marty Slayton was also eliminated. “I’d like to say thanks to my family and friends and everybody back home,” she said. “I have a great life, and I get to do what I love to do for a living.”

Brent then launched into his performance of “The City of New Orleans,” saying that it always reminds him of his grandfather, who was a truck driver. “I don’t care if you’re pretty – you can sing,” Brad said. Tracy commented, “You did a good job on loosening up and having fun. You’ve got some work to do, but good job.” “Perfect ending,” Billy concluded.

SONG LIST:

Willie Nelson:
“Whiskey River”

Lance Miller:
“On The Road Again” – Willie Nelson

Matt Lindahl:
“Uncloudy Day” – Willie Nelson

Brad Cotter:
“The Last Thing I Needed” – Willie Nelson

George Canyon:
“Seven Spanish Angels” – Willie Nelson

Jennifer Hicks:
“Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” – Willie Nelson

Brent Keith:
“The City of New Orleans” – Willie Nelson

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

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

www.austinfilm.org

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. www.AustinFilm.org

This day in Willie Nelson history: Willie Nelson & Family celebrate opening of Smith Center (3/10/2012)

Friday, March 10th, 2017

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www.vegasnews.com
photos:  Erik Kabik, Cassi Thomas

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pick, thanks to Budrock and the late great Guthrie Thomas.

“I thought a performing arts center was a beer joint where Willie Nelson was playing,” — Fred Smith, at grand opening of Smith Center in Las Vegas

Harris also had a joke to illustrate how the very name suggests a building that can be for everyone. “Smith just happens to be the name that appears on 68 percent of the registries in Las Vegas hotels.”

But Fred Smith, who led the private funding campaign with an initial $50 million donation (which later grew to nearly $200 million) from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, had a moment onstage to clarify which Smith we were talking about. He joked that he was originally confused by the proposal, because he thought a performing arts center was “a beer joint where Willie Nelson was playing.”

www.lvrj.com
by: Mike Weatherford

They spoke of that other Las Vegas, joked about it, but it seemed so far away.

Though it was a black-tie gala that aimed to be inclusive, it was, more importantly, a night to feel as grand and important as the new building it celebrated.

So even when unbilled rocker John Fogerty threw down “Center­field” and “Bad Moon Rising,” the grand opening of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts was just not the place to let things get silly-Vegas carried away.

They showed up for Saturday’s gala in a sea of black ties and at least one cowboy hat, to the $470 million downtown performing arts center with its classic design that looked like it could have gone up at the same time as Hoover Dam.

Indeed, the first images seen in Reynolds Hall skipped right over the commercial Strip of Las Vegas. Helicopter footage on a movie screen zoomed straight to Hoover Dam instead, as an original orchestral composition, “From Dust to Dreams,” suggested the new building was carved from the same spirit as the dam, but simply took an extra 70-plus years to arrive.

But just as Hoover Dam stood as a monument to its generation, The Smith Center will stand as “a proud monument to our generation,” Don Snyder, the board chairman who guided the project to completion, told the audience from the stage.

“Making a new performing arts center rise from the desert is more complicated than a Wynn whim,” joked host Neil Patrick Harris early in a performance being filmed for future PBS broadcast.

Harris also had a joke to illustrate how the very name suggests a building that can be for everyone. “Smith just happens to be the name that appears on 68 percent of the registries in Las Vegas hotels.”

But Fred Smith, who led the private funding campaign with an initial $50 million donation (which later grew to nearly $200 million) from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, had a moment onstage to clarify which Smith we were talking about. He joked that he was originally confused by the proposal, because he thought a performing arts center was “a beer joint where Willie Nelson was playing.”

Although it was champagne that was swept from silver trays in the lobby, Willie Nelson did play. He brought Merle Haggard to sing “Pancho and Lefty” with him, and then Emmylou Harris joined in on the Gram Parsons ode “Ooh Las Vegas.”

The classic country singers came after a younger-generation star, Martina McBride, covered “Tumbling Dice,” and Train’s Pat Monahan enlisted the orchestra for Elton John’s “Take Me to the Pilot.”

No one seemed to be having more fun than Carole King, who got a few people out of their seats singing “You’ve Got a Friend,” with Mavis Staples, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” as Jennifer Hudson and McBride gathered around the piano.

It was a night of Broadway performances and some dance too, with a couple from Twyla Tharpe’s “Sinatra Dance with Me.”

The show ended with Hudson, with orchestra and a choir singing, “Take care of this house, be always on call, for this house is the home of us all,” from the musical “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Before the 2½-hour show began, some stars walked a red carpet set up behind ballerinas posing like statues in the evening breeze.

Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell said he was glad The Smith Center chose an art deco, classic look.

“New buildings are usually very modern in their looks,” he said.

Violinist Joshua Bell has seen the commercial side of Las Vegas entertainment by performing with Frankie Moreno, but admitted, “I’m at home in this kind of venue.”

Merle Haggard said the new room felt like Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, designed by the same architect. And he liked both a lot better than the worst place he’s ever played, which was in Belfast, Ireland, in front of 6,000 people who couldn’t hear and weren’t happy about it.

No such complaints inside Reynolds Hall on Saturday.

This day in Willie Nelson history: Host of Saturday Night Live (February 21, 1987)

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

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Willie Nelson delivers the opening monologue as host ofSaturday Night Live on Feb. 21, 1987.

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Willie Nelson (center) appears in the “Church Chat” skit with Danny DeVito, Nora Dunn and Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live on Feb. 21, 1987.

This day in Willie Nelson History: “Highwayman” album certified Gold (Feb. 10, 1986)

Friday, February 10th, 2017

On February 10, 1986, “The HighwayMan” album, is certified gold for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson

1. Highwayman
2. The Last Cowboy Song
3. Jim, I Wore A Tie Today
4. Big River
5. Committed To Parkview
6. Desperados Waiting For A Train
7. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)
8. Welfare Line
9. Against The Wind
10. The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over