Archive for the ‘Fans’ Category

Another Willie Nelson fan

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Dear Willie Nelson

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Dear Willie Nelson,

Pardon me for the interruption; I’m sure you have plenty of other things to do with your time than to peruse my inane little ramblings here on the internet. But you are my favorite country music artists of all time. There have been many other great music artists over the many decades of country music history, and arguably others that perhaps have accomplished slightly more in their careers by someone else’s particular estimation. But in my humble opinion, and from an admittedly biased perspective from having grown up on your music, you are the best.

We have lost many country music greats over the years, especially in the last couple, which has caused great pain among the country music population, and to my little country music world particularly. Merle was especially tough, and losing him in the same year as Guy Clark and Ralph Stanley was a son-of-a-bitch. But none of that would be as daunting as having to digest your unfathomable demise. In fact I feel dirty for even putting your name and the hint of a world without you in it in the same sentence. It feels like sacrilege.

So it is from this conclusion—and in admitted flaunting defiance of the laws of nature—that I have unilaterally decided, by the powers vested in me by nobody, and without the seal of any higher authority, that you, Willie Hugh Nelson, are not, under any circumstances, allowed to die. No wiggle room, no time for discussion. Period, end of story. I apologize for such a brash and implausible demand, but this is just the way it has to be.

Like many country music fans, I was not always 100% faithful to the country music genre my entire life. Though my country roots have always been there and been pure, like many Americans will do in their youth, I experimented with other genres. There was my classic rock phase, for example. But can you blame me when at the time Garth Brooks was all the rage, and flying suspended over stadiums? Is it my fault I went searching for greener pastures? Besides, a lot of that classic rock stuff was just as much country as the popular country stuff of the 90’s, and was way more country than the popular country of today.

I even dabbled in punk rock and jam bands and artists on the fringes of popular music like Tom Waits and Frank Zappa in early adulthood—you know, whatever I thought was cool at the time—resulting in dark periods in my knowledge base and discography of country. But you, Willie Nelson, were always there. Both in my heart, and in my ears. Even when country music wasn’t cool in my music world for whatever reason, you always were.
I know what I’m asking for is a profanity to the cycle of life. Some may even conclude that it’s impossible. But I can’t imagine a world without a Willie Nelson. As everything has become perilous and polarized in out time, you are the one thing that nearly everybody can agree upon. You are like the Mother Teresa of music. Even people who despise country music see Willie Nelson as a beacon of light in the world, as a guidepost of infinite wisdom, and as an irreplaceable soul on this mortal coil. For decades now, music has simply been the excuse to pay attention to what a gift it is to have Willie Nelson inhabit planet Earth.

Yet inexplicably your musical output has not suffered at all with advancing age and the unavoidable and irreversible loss of faculties that come with it. In fact it has only enhanced you wisdom, broadened your appeal, and instilled your music with an instant gratification and infinite fulfillment simply from hearing the immediately identifiable timbre of your voice, and the timeless plucks of your guitar, Trigger, while your past music only grows better with age.

I have no reason to ask any favor of you, sir. In fact if anything, I am infinitely indebted to you for all the joy your music has brought me in my life, all the tough times it has seen me through, and all the positivity, wisdom, and joy it has spread throughout the world. Yet here I am, selfishly requesting you work another miracle.

Because I don’t want to fathom a world without Willie Nelson.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

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

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017


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.

Willie Nelson and Earl Campbell

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Have a Willie Nice Day

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Another Willie Nelson fan, Ed Jurdi, Band of Heathens

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
by: Annie Zaleski

Austin, Texas’ own Band of Heathens are road warriors who have played shows with the Drive-By Truckers, Hayes Carll and Old 97’s — and that’s just in the last few years. Ask vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Ed Jurdi who’s left on his band’s concert wish list, however, and he doesn’t hesitate before answering: Willie Nelson.

“I do want to make that happen,” he says, calling The Boot from (where else?) the road, on the eve of the band’s performance at June’s Mountain Jam. “We’re pretty good friends with Lukas [Nelson], his son — he has a really great band — but we haven’t quite gotten to do a show with Willie yet. We have a lot of friends who have done it, too. So we’re putting our names on a list.”

When told he should pull the Texas card to make that happen, Jurdi laughs: “That’s right,” he says. “Willie’s everyone’s now, though. He’s really a man of all people.”

With the release of January’s Duende, the Band of Heathens are increasingly in the same boat. The record is a distillation of everything that makes the band great; its songs encompass meditative folk-rock (“Keys to the Kingdom,” “Last Minute Man”), bluesy soul (“Sugar Queen,” “Daddy Longlegs”), Wilco-esque pop (“Deep Is Love”), loping twang (“Cracking the Code”) and swaggering rock ‘n’ roll (“Trouble Came Early”). Better still, these disparate songs hang together seamlessly.

“I feel this is the best record we’ve ever made, and I feel like the band is the best that it’s ever been.”


Willie Nelson fans at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Fun times at Red Rocks, with Janis from Texas, Jodi from Texas, Miss Tex (Pat) from Texas and Gary from Texas.  And that’s Ben and Eddie from Colorado behind them.

Another Willie Nelson fan: Roger Crowe

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Thanks to Roger for letting me share his photo, looking good in his WN shirt, way over in Hawaii, gifted from his friend Rebecca in Austin.

Another Willie Nelson fan: Rita Ora wants a ride with Willie Nelson

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Rita Ora wants to go on a road trip with Willie Nelson.

The ‘Your Song’ hitmaker is an unexpected fan of the 84-year-old country music legend and would love to get a chance to spend some time with him so she could pick his brain and be regaled by his tales of life on tour and in the studio.

Rita, 26, thinks there would be no better place to pump Willie for his knowledge than in a car driving across the ‘On The Road Again’ singer’s native America together.

When asked who she would most like to go on a road trip with, Rita answered: “I would probably go on a road trip with Willie Nelson, he probably has the best stories of all time.”

Rita was being quizzed for a segment called Spilled Tea on the ‘Elvis Duran Show’ on US radio station Z100 and she also spilled she would love to work with Miley Cyrus in the future.

She said: “I think it would be fun to work with my friend Miley Cyrus, I’ve already worked with Charli XCX whose my friend. It’s always good to work with your friends.”

If Rita is serious about going on a road trip with Willie she could be in luck as the songwriter recently revealed he has no intention of retiring even though he is now an octogenarian.

He said: “What do people want me to quit? I just play music and a little golf and I don’t wanna give up either one of those! Everything’s going good. I think age is just a number. I’ve heard it all my life: It’s not how old you are, it’s how you feel. And I’ve been lucky with [everything], health-wise and career-wise. I haven’t really got anything to bitch about!”

Rita though will have to run her ride with Willie past new boyfriend Tyrone Wood – who is Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood’s 33-year-old son – who she is believed to have been dating for a few months.

Willie Nelson Art, by Janine Holter

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
Branching out on my Zentangles. Paper coaster all Zentangled up with a picture of Willie Nelson Mod Podge on it. @zentangle @willienelsonofficial @williesreserveofficial @stillisstillmoving #zentangle #doodlesofinstagram #modpodge #creative #artist #godblesswillienelson #willienelson

Thanks, Janine Holter, from Minnesota, for your cool rendition.

“Branching out on my Zentangles. Paper coaster all Zentangled up with a picture of Willie Nelson Mod Podge on it.”@zentangle @willienelsonofficial @williesreserveofficial @stillisstillmoving #zentangle #doodlesofinstagram #modpodge #creative #artist #godblesswillienelson #willienelson

“Bee you don’t know how cool this picture is yet, but you will…”

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Kind of epic. #itsgoodtobebee? thank you @gailprusslin for catching this moment for this mom. @beatrixcheer you don’t know how cool this picture is yet…but you will. ??
#gratitude #bestfamilyever #thankyouwillie ?? thank you @mickeyraphael ??Willie Nelson, Mickey Raphael, Jackson Browne, Grace Potter, Billy English, Paul English, and Bee
thank you @mickeyraphael ??Willie Nelson, Mickey Raphael, Jackson Browne, Grace Potter, Billy English, Paul English, and Bee”

Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival in Milwaukee (July 9, 2017)

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Thanks so much to Paul Martell for sharing his great photos from the Outlaw Music Festival in Milwaukee.   Paul has been sending me photos from concerts for years.  This is show #47! for Paul.

Hello again Linda,

I enjoyed the Outlaw Music Festival this past weekend and felt I should pass on some photos for you and others to enjoy again. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. Amongst all of the memories created, I recognized Mickey Raphael casually moving through the stands with a few others. I approached him and asked if I could get a picture with him. He was very gracious and so it was done.

Later in the early afternoon, after Lukas had performed he too was mingling amongst those in the stands stage left. I approached him as well and he too was very receptive and gracious. Those photos are on my phone and I will try to transfer them later as they are great demonstrations of how we love them and they care for and appreciate us. (I jokingly tell all of my friends that I believe I am now part of Willie and Family. Acceptance into through commitments to his shows. That was #47 for me 🙂


Another Willie Nelson fan in Cary, NC

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tom Songs:

“This is my brother in law, Gaylan. He’s on the healing side of some bad luck but Willie just made his night in Cary with a bandana and that music. We love you guys.”

Willie Nelson, American Treasure

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017