Jessica Simpson looks really good in hers.
Jessica Simpson looks really good in hers.
Anticipation spills over with the first few notes from Mickey’s harmonica. Then, as Willie takes the stage and sings “Whiskey River Take My Mind,” the audience responds as if each person there had just won the New York State Lottery.
This rapport increases throughout the show as Willie glides from Kris Kristofferson gems to gospel, cowboy songs to blues, self-penned classics to ballads. Whatever Willie sings, the people. Funny how two hours slip away.
Willie and Family Show is felt, not just seen and heard. It’s a natural high for those lucky enough to be there. Ad those people will be back for another show.
It’s easy to appreciate the efforts of Willie and the band members on stage. They have given us top quality entertainment. Not so visible, i.e. well-known, are the people involved backstage working before and after each show.
Willie and Family roll coast-to-coast on tires. Five chocolate/tan customized Silver Eagle buses, painted in various Indian and western themes, drive into the shows parking area. these carry the 27 or so experts, including band members, that work with Willie to keep the show running smoothly. And smoothly it does. Also on tour is a motor home with the concessions people, a rental truck, and a semi for equipment.
On tour with Willie can be 200 shows a year, covering up to 100,000 miles. The buses soak up to 200 gallons at truck stops and that translates to about 6 or 7 miles per gallon.
Your ticket might give the show’s starting time as 8 p.m., but the first of Willie’s crew starts long before that. The sound and lights technicians are setting up by 11 in the morning for an 8 p.m. show.
By 3 p.m. the security staff and stage manager are at work. Look for the Wrangler bus around the same time. the fourth bus, with the band members, comes over about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour before the show starts.
The big question is, of course, When Does Willie Get Here? It varies.
It’s not unusual for Willie to arrive 30 minutes to an hour before show time. Or, it just might be any time from 11 a.m. to 7:45; each show has it’s own circumstances.
Eventually the evening ends, Willie waves goodbye and exits the stage. the audience also heads for home.
Willie’s crew, the same people that set up that morning, have another 2 to 2 1/2 hours of work to tear it all down. When you have the best sound and light equipment available, it takes that long before everything is loaded and ready to roll.
One by one the Silver Eagles and trucks hustle down the highway to the next show and another city.
Many thanks to Wrangler’s Mell Parkhurst who took time at the Salem, Ohio show to answer all our questions.
Jean and Beth Dolezal
photo: Mark Peterson
by: Matthew Leimkuehler
Dean Thomann “will fight to the bloody end” as he battles cancer, but a life-changing moment occurred for the 60-year-old Iowa farmer on Saturday at the Hinterland Music Festival in St. Charles.
Thomann, who is battling Stage 4 colorectal cancer, met country music icon and seven-time Grammy Award winner Willie Nelson on the second day of the music festival. Thomann made the trip with his wife, Susan, following chemotherapy treatment that lasted five weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and just days before an impending surgery that will remove a cancerous spot near his spinal cord.
“He’s my favorite of all time,” Thomann told the Register earlier in the week, before Hinterland began. “He’s been there. He’s done it. He’s been through the school of hard knocks like I have. He’s done his time, and he’s still doing it. I look at him as a classic icon.”
Thomann went backstage and met with the 83-year-old performer.
Thomann was able to secure backstage VIP tickets thanks to his daughters, who shared their father’s story when Hinterland ran a contest dedicated toward music-loving dads. There were more than 150 submissions, and the Thomanns were one of the two winners.
“When it comes to music, politics and new ideas, my pa’s mind is never closed,” Dana Thomann wrote in the note for the Hinterland contest. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized he is a rare gem among his farmer cohort.”
Hinterland’s creative director, Brooke Summers, said it was Dean Thomann’s evident passion for music and his effort to pass that along to his children that made Dana’s post stand out among the rest. Dean Thomann saw Nelson perform once before in the 1970s. The meeting between Thomann and Nelson was arranged by Farm Aid after the organization read the story published by the Register.
About 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women have a chance of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society.
Thanks to Janis Tillerson for sharing this picture of Tara Kundson wearing her Willie Nelson bandanna from last night’s Willie Nelson & Family show at the Sturgis, South Dakota Motorcycle Rally Concert. Tara was standing behind Janis at the show, and when Janis saw her, she asked her mother if Tara would like to stand in front of her. Tara’s mom explained that Tara is legally blind, and would not be able to see Willie even if she was in the front row. Janis told her, “Yeah, but Willie will be able to see Tara.” Janis wrote:
“Tara is a very special lady. At the concert last night, Willie walked over and put this bandanna in her hands. Tara may not have been able to see Willie on stage but that did not stop her from rocking to the music. Tara has a vision problem and did not know for sure if I just told her it was Willie who handed her the bandanna, so she kept asking if it truly was Willie that touched her hand. As Tara said, ‘this is the best thing that has ever happened to me! I can’t believe he came to me.’ I don’t think she will ever stop smiling.” — Janis Tillerson
Sweet picture of Janine, from Minnesota, Willie Nelson fan, artist and nice person, on her birthday.
Cherie and Janis are in Austin, waiting for the show to start! So proud of my friends, bright and early!
Thanks Budrock, for the photo of the fans up front at the Willie Nelson & Family show last night.
Janine Holter (Beanie to some of us) sent me this beautiful mouse pad, with a picture of her painting she made of a photograph she took of Willie Nelson with his fans. I loved her painting so much when she shared it on Facebook. last year. Janine, I’m not going to let any mouse near this pad; I’m going to frame it. Thank you; I love it.
She has been celebrating the life of Willie Nelson and his birthday for years every April.
“It was a lovely day to celebrate All things Willie Nelson with a pizza party – pot luck at my workplace. This year, all participants received a mousepad with an image of the painting I did honoring Willie and his fans.
God Bless Willie Nelson on his 83rd birthday. Many more!”
She decorates and serves cake, and has really cool party favors! One year a beach ball, then a shopping bag.
photo: Joe Palca
In 1975, I was living in San Diego, and needed a job. The roommate of a friend of mine was a scientist at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. He said a colleague of his was looking to hire a lab technician, so I applied and got the job. The scientist I worked for was some guy from a small town in Texas. His name? Jim Allison.
Jim has invented a new kind of cancer therapy that enables patients’ own immune systems to fight off their disease. He’s won all kinds of awards for his work, and some say he’ll win the Nobel Prize before long. But in 1975, he was just my boss.
But Jim was also my pal. We ate lunch together almost every day. We’d go drinking together after work. We were regulars at a honky-tonk called the Stingaree that had live music. Jim was particularly fond of outlaw country music — artists like Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kris Kristofferson, Gary P. Nunn and especially Willie Nelson.
Jim was a nut about Nelson. One night he crashed a record party being held in San Diego for Nelson’s album Red Headed Stranger. Never shy, Jim went over and talked to Nelson, told him he was a fellow Texan, and how much he liked his music.
Nelson asked Jim if there was someplace he and the band could play after the party, so Jim took them up to the Stingaree, where it was open mic night. Nelson and the band played until the bar closed. They even let Jim sit in with his harmonica on a set or two. Jim was on cloud nine for at least a week after that night.