Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

“Thanks to all my fans” — Willie Nelson

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

“Dad will be back on the road again soon”

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

“Dad will be back on the road again soon. Sometimes congestion keeps him from singing. He will be OK. Thank you for all your kind prayers and well wishes.”

— Lana Nelson

Willie Nelson postpones tour

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Willie Nelson & Family in Minneapolis (8/2/2019)

Monday, August 5th, 2019
by: Keith Harris

Willie Nelson doesn’t play many sports arenas these days, so his Friday night gig at Target Center had an air of novelty.

Not that it really matters what stage the 86-year-old legend takes. On any given night, at any given casino, amphitheater, or music festival, Willie and his five-piece band put on much the same show as they had the night before. They lurch into motion with “Whiskey River,” toss in a weed number or two, zip though some instrumental showcases and a medley of Hank Williams covers, make sure not to stint on the crowd favorites from Willie’s own songbook, and at last render “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” a moot question. Then they pack it up and move on.

And Willie’s band, the Family, has remained essentially the same since 1973, with “little sister” Bobbie on nimble honky-tonk piano, drummer Paul English rapping on his snare with brushes, and harmonica maestro Mickey Raphael filling the gaps. Before Kevin Smith took over bass duties from the late Bee Spears in 2012, additional percussionist Billy English was the new kid in the group—and he joined in ’83.

Willie’s almost as reluctant to slot a new original song on his setlist as he is to add a new player to his band. In fact, in the interest of presenting himself as the institution he’s indubitably been for decades now, Nelson undersells himself as a continuing creative force. He’s released 16 albums this past decade, with 2018’s Last Man Standing such a solid, casual collection of originals it may soon sound like a classic in retrospect, and this year’s Ride Me Back Home is a worthy successor. Not one of the songs Nelson wrote for those two recent albums was to be heard in Minneapolis on Friday night.

Then again, you don’t become the most widely beloved living American musician (who’s his competition, really, besides Stevie Wonder, maybe, or Dolly Parton?) by throwing hard curves at paying customers, a whole mess of whom certainly didn’t want to go home without hearing “On the Road Again” or “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” or “Always on My Mind.” (He couldn’t possibly have sung “Maybe I didn’t freak you quite as good as I could have” during that last title but at least one other person heard it that way besides me.) And really, why should they have? But would they really have missed “Beer for My Horses,” the unfortunate-to-say-the-least celebration of lynching Willie recorded with Toby Keith 16 years ago and insists on keeping in his set? (Hmm, maybe don’t answer that.)

But don’t let my focus on the familiarity of Friday night’s show register as faint praise. After all, what Willie Nelson offers isn’t predictability, it’s a brilliant consistency—and, at this age, maybe a little reassurance. Anyone (not unrealistically) worried about the old guy’s health would have been happy to hear no audible frailty in his voice. If that relative robustness came at the occasional expense of nuance— still casually conversational on his recordings, on stage Willie’s more declamatory—his vocal ingenuity remains when it comes to tempo, as he sidles in behind the beat with the offhand cunning of a jazz singer.

And lord does this man love a well-crafted song. Willie was more than willing to demonstrate the breadth of his taste by performing three of the covers that fill out Ride Me Back Home. Two were keepers: Guy Clark’s exquisite “My Favorite Picture of You,” which glided along on Bobbie’s piano, and “Maybe I Should’ve Been Listening,” one of those solid, oft-recycled country compositions that no one ever quite made into a major hit. As for Mac Davis’ “Hard to Be Humble,” which was a country radio smash when I was 10 and struck me as corny as hell even then, I’d have personally preferred “Immigrant Eyes,” the more timely of the Clark songs Nelson recorded for his latest album. But Willie engaged the crowd in an enthusiastic singalong to the Davis song anyway, so mileage clearly varies when we’re talking comic narcissism.

And if Willie’s setlist doesn’t vary much, his band’s ramshackle virtuosity offered plenty of spontaneity. When Nelson antagonizes the beat with a brassily resonant low E-string plong on his weathered and heavily amplified Martin acoustic, he’s not so much confident that the band will adjust to his improvisations as he is indifferent. Few bandleaders ask less of their accompanists than Willie Nelson—or do I mean more?

Willie’s solo showcase was, as usual, Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages,” a performance paradoxical in the way a genius’ tribute to his idol often is: While demonstrating how much he’s borrowed from the French “gypsy jazz” pioneer, Nelson’s playing was also idiosyncratically his own. (Raphael’s harp impeccably mimicked an accordion throughout.) Willie’s guitar dominated the mix, which was rattling at first, but he hardly bullied his bandmates; each player went about his or her business with determined abandon. You could call it a model of democracy in action, and we sure can’t have too many of those right now.

If a basketball arena was occasionally an odd locale for one of Willie and the Family’s homely romps, it could have proven a downright perverse mismatch for the intimate pop-bluegrass of co-headliner Alison Krauss and her band Union Station. That wasn’t at all the case: Krauss’ lovely, large soprano actually seemed to demand a room this big, while retaining the human quality and modest appreciation of melody that sets her apart as a singer. Her performance of “Gentle on My Mind” was a small miracle, summoning all the smoothened lushness that the architects of countrypolitan had sought from orchestras and choirs with nothing more than a bluegrass band’s precise, warm instrumentation.

Krauss doesn’t vary her setlist much either these days, which underscores how distinctively ecumenical her songbook is and how thoroughly she’s made the material she’s borrowed hers. Selections that once seemed audacious given the uniqueness of the originals, like the Foundations’ “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” or Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All,” now flaunt a well-worn familiarity. Oh, and Krauss also covered Willie Nelson himself, so don’t be surprised if soon you also think of “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” as an Alison Krauss song.

Whiskey River
Still Is Still Moving to Me
Beer for My Horses
Good Hearted Woman
Down Under
If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Shoeshine Man
It’s All Going to Pot
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
On the Road Again
Always on My Mind
Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
Hey Good Lookin’
Move It on Over
My Favorite Picture of You
Maybe I Should Have Been Listening
It’s Hard to Be Humble
Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than Willie Nelson

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019
by: Erik Ritland

Willie Nelson brought both kinds of music to the Target Center: country and western.  

There’s nothing to say about Willie Nelson that hasn’t been said. He’s one of the last handful of surviving legendary country singers. His catalog of hits and country standards is practically endless, and his overlooked albums since the 80s mostly stand up with them.  

He still releases an album of worthwhile material every year. His latest, Ride Me Back Home, came out in June. It’s a tender, gorgeous collection of mostly new songs.  

Legendary singer and fiddle player Alison Krauss opened the night with her signature blend of folk, pop, and bluegrass. Opener “River in the Rain” (the Roger Miller tune) was especially beautiful, and “Forget About It” and Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on my Mind” were also highlights. Her voice was as big and bold as ever, especially on a breathtaking cover of Willie’s “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and “Down to the River to Pray.” 

The Red Headed Stranger

Willie’s set focused on the classics. And man, are there classics. Quintessential country stomp “Whiskey River” opened the show, as it always does. Then the hits kept coming: “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys,” “On the Road Again,” “Always on my Mind,” and on and on and on.  

A few new songs made the cut, though, including Snoop Dogg collaboration “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and a couple tracks from Ride Me Back Home.   

Perhaps most importantly, a Willie Nelson concert brings joy. The crowd sang along to practically every song, and the closing medley of old spirituals “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”/”I’ll Fly Away” is the closest you’ll get to church without actually being there. And that’s a compliment.

More than a country music icon, Willie Nelson is a true American original. His singular voice and guitar playing, along with his vast catalog of classic songs, make him one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His concerts, even at 86, are required viewing. 

Willie Nelson with Alison Krause in Ashwaubenon, WI (8/1/2019)

Friday, August 2nd, 2019
photo: Sarah Kloepping
by: Kendra Meinert

Willie Nelson walked out at the Resch Center on Thursday night without so much as a whiff of an introduction, lifted his cowboy hat to a crowd that roared in approval, strapped on his trusty guitar, Trigger, and got to work.

“Whiskey River, take my mind …” rang out from a stage adorned with nothing but a giant flag of Texas and a modest band setup that looked more roadside honky tonk than arena.

At 86, that’s how the country music legend rolls. That’s how he’s always rolled. 

No matter how many times you’ve experienced it, that moment when the “Red Headed Stranger” takes the stage feels like history. There’s only one Willie. There will never be another. An American original in braids, boots and a red, white and blue guitar strap, playing a beat-up guitar with a hole worn it.

The buddies he dedicated songs to — Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings among them — are gone, but Nelson is forever on the road again. So as long as that still happens, somehow it feels like all is right with the world.

He played for an hour for his co-headlining visit with Alison Krauss, giving a crowd that looked to be about 6,000 strong the biggest of the big hits. His delivery is more storyteller than singer these days, letting the crowd help him out on such favorites as “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again,” but the voice, even when it drifts in and out, is always distinctively Nelson.

He can still put some outlaw giddy-up in “Good Hearted Woman” and make an audience gasp with the first words of “Always on My Mind.” His guitar picking on “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground was as pretty as it comes.

Willie’s Remedy Review

Saturday, July 13th, 2019
by: Kevin Curtin

It’s a triple-digit afternoon at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic and I can’t wait to get into the air conditioning of Willie’s bus. You know the bus: holy ground, a rite of passage, one of the most notorious tour vehicles to ever endlessly crisscross American highways: the Honeysuckle Rose. But that’s not the Willie bus I’m getting on.

This bus looks similar to the Honeysuckle Rose – sans the exterior mural of horses running a mountainous terrain. It certainly smells similar to the Honeysuckle Rose. It’s often parked in proximity to the Honeysuckle Rose, but it’s not the Honeysuckle Rose. This is the Willie’s Remedy bus, a promotional RV that currently goes wherever Willie Nelson & the Family Band are playing, spreading the gospel of the country hero’s expanding line of CBD products.

On this day, the bus actually carrying Nelson hasn’t yet arrived to the Circuit of the Americas, but his secondary promotional bus seems to be a popular backstage attraction. Young Canadian folksinger Colter Wall is stepping off as I step on and the motor coach is bustling with people buzzing on cups of Willie’s Remedy coffee – comprised of CBD sourced from Colorado-grown organic hemp that’s bonded to the essential fatty acids in Colombian coffee beans during roasting.

On the Remedy bus sits Devin Jamroz, whose scrappy small business was miraculously transformed by Willie and his wife Annie Nelson.

In 2014, shortly after discovering the healing properties of cannabis while treating a herniated disc in his back, Jamroz and his roommate began experimenting with infusing coffee with THC out of their Colorado home. It was as DIY an effort as you might imagine: roasting coffee in a stovetop popcorn popper, then running into the backyard and pouring the still-smoking beans into a colander, while spritzing it with a marijuana tincture.

At the beginning they made a lot of admittedly bad coffee, but continually refined the process until they were making excellent coffee – the kind of stuff that even impresses coffee snobs and professional roasters. When the CBD market got interesting, Jamroz shifted focus away from THC and began selling bags of CBD-infused whole roasted coffee beans online. Starting out, business was slow; a really good week would see $90 in sales.

“Then there was this random customer online named Annie Nelson, who we didn’t know from ‘Annie Whoever,’” recalls Jamroz. “We’d occasionally have orders from her that were five times what we would do in a really good month. She’d order 10 pounds and we’d wonder, ‘Who is this saint?’ She’d have it shipped all over the country; we’d ship it to Texas, we’d ship it to Hawaii. It was the weirdest thing, this woman buying so much coffee, and we’re shipping it to random places.”

This went on for years. Annie would even send what Jamroz called “secret agents” or “ghost buyers” to trade shows and buy huge amounts of coffee. Eventually one of them spilled the beans on who Annie Nelson was and that her husband, iconic musician and transcendent toker Willie Nelson, was an avid drinker of Jamroz’s CBD coffee.

“We almost fell out of our chairs,” he remembers.

Now that coffee serves as the the flagship product of Willie’s Remedy, a growing line of CBD products rolled out since February. It’s a sister brand to Willie’s Reserve, which formed in 2014 and began selling adult-use cannabis two years later.

On the bus, I quickly down four cups of iced coffee. I’m a moderate – all right, heavy – THC user and I don’t want the positive effects of CBD coffee to get lost in the shuffle of other cannabinoids in my system. It’s a palatable brew; medium dark roast with an exquisitely balanced flavor. The most incredible thing about it: The CBD really balances out the caffeine. You can drink it ad infinitum and not get jittery.

It’s by no means a whopping dose of CBD. I’ve in the past experimented with putting a several-hundred-milligram CBD squirt of tincture under my tongue, which ushers an immediate and undeniable effect. Elizabeth Hogan, who co-founded Willie’s Reserve/Remedy with the Nelsons and Willie’s longtime manager Mark Rothbaum, explains that they view the 10mg dose as “daily supplement model” – good for more minor ailments and regular use.

That suits Willie. She characterizes he and Annie as “night owls” and says Willie will drink coffee long after most people go to bed.

Opening a jar of the WIllie’s Remedy Full Spectrum Soothing Balm, a shea butter/coconut oil/CBD mixture that I later rub on my knee to effectively alleviate post-basketball joint pain, I ask Hogan how seriously involved Willie actually is in the product line that bears his name.

“He’s very involved,” she insists. “First, it’s about his values: personal freedom, medical efficacy and advocacy, agricultural and environmental impact, and, finally, social justice – never looking away from the fact that there are people still sitting in jail for what we can now legally sell. “He also calls himself the ‘Chief Tester.’”

Hogan says that when she gets on Willie’s bus, he’s always eager to know what products they’re going to test.

“I’m not going to lie, he loves all of it. He’s not a scientist, he’s a musician and a poet, but in terms of how to appreciate it: The man has a lot to teach us all.”

In the week following the Picnic, I’ve been engaged in a practice that’s totally foreign to me: drinking hot tea – specifically Willie’s Remedy loose leaf green tea, also infused with full-spectrum hemp oil. When steeped for two minutes (I’ve learned that over-steeping causes green tea to turn bitter), it’s a pleasant, natural-tasting beverage that accentuates the benefit of low-dose CBD that I find most rewarding: relaxation and relief from stress.

In the week following the Picnic, I’ve been engaged in a practice that’s totally foreign to me: drinking hot tea – specifically Willie’s Remedy loose leaf green tea, also infused with full-spectrum hemp oil. When steeped for two minutes (I’ve learned that over-steeping causes green tea to turn bitter), it’s a pleasant, natural-tasting beverage that accentuates the benefit of low-dose CBD that I find most rewarding: relaxation and relief from stress.

Read rest of article here.

Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

Monday, July 1st, 2019
By Daniel Durchholz

One of the best things about lineup-shifting, multi-band bills like the Outlaw Music Festival, which played Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on Saturday, is that it makes possible collaborations between artists you’d otherwise probably never see together.

Musicians sat in with other bands on several occasions throughout the 9½-hour concert, but the best one occurred midway through Phil Lesh & Friends’ set, when Alison Krauss lent her crystalline soprano voice and violin to the Grateful Dead classic “To Lay Me Down.”

Krauss returned later to sing another Dead-related song, “Morning Dew.”

Lesh & Friends’ performance was all Dead-related, of course, and the five-piece band hit a number of cosmic, jammy highlights on its own during “Sugaree,” “Slipknot!” and “Cumberland Blues.” But the addition of Krauss took the songs to another dimension entirely.

That was especially encouraging to see because Krauss’ own set, which preceded Lesh & Friends, was a bit of a dud. Not the performance itself, which had a set list and stage design similar to her 2017 Stifel Theatre concert.

But the sublime vocals of Krauss on “River in the Rain,” “Stay” and “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” were mostly lost on an audience that had come to party. The dull roar of conversations — probably equally dull — often drowned out the music.

Krauss fared better with the crowd on the up-tempo tunes “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson” and “It’s Goodbye and So Long to You.” She earned cheers when she covered “I Never Cared for You” and “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by festival anchor Willie Nelson. The response was also enthusiastic for “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby” and “Down to the River to Pray” from the popular “O Brother Where Art Thou?” soundtrack.

The set’s big finish — covers of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” and Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All,” plus the rousing gospel number “When I’ve Done the Best I Can, I Want My Crown” received a standing ovation, but it seemed mostly perfunctory. By the time that Krauss and her band attempted an a cappella encore of “It Is Well With My Soul,” the audience had turned its attention to other things and was filing out.

Meanwhile, headliner Willie Nelson — who was really the only legitimate “outlaw” on the bill — just keeps rolling on, even at age 86.

Like Krauss, Nelson didn’t vary his performance much from his previous St. Louis concert, a 2018 show at the Stifel. But as always, his songs come pouring out at such a torrid pace — 21 tunes in an hourlong set — it’s fun just trying to keep up.

Nelson dedicated songs to his late friends Waylon Jennings (“Good Hearted Woman”) and Merle Haggard (“It’s All Going to Pot”) and played a trio of tunes from the Hank Williams catalog (“Jambalaya,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Move It on Over.”)

He was having a good night vocally and on guitar. He performed some astonishing tricks on his guitar, “Trigger,” which is so beat up it almost hurts to see it in close-up on the video screens. But it still sounds great when Nelson reels off one of his jazzy, all-over-the-beat solos, or performs a lovely instrumental like Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages.”

Nelson visited some of his classics, including “Whiskey River,” “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind,” but some of his best offerings were from his just-released 69th (!) album, “Ride Me Back Home.”

Nelson doesn’t always plug his new albums in concert, but this one is worth it, notably for his takes on Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You,” Buzz Rabin’s (via Gene Watson) “Maybe I Should Have Been Listening” and Mac Davis’ comic “It’s Hard to Be Humble.”

A long day of music wrapped up with Nelson’s standard closing gospel medley of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and “I’ll Fly Away,” which found Lesh and his bandmates joining in. But the legendary singer and irrepressible pot advocate added one more: “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

The song would serve as a suitable epitaph for Nelson. But not anytime soon, please.

Old Crow Medicine Show, Dawes, and Shooting With Annie performed earlier in the day.

Willie Nelson setlist:

“Whiskey River”

“Still Is Still Moving to Me”

“Beer for My Horses”

“A Good Hearted Woman”

“Down Yonder”

“If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time”

“It’s All Going to Pot”


“On the Road Again”

“Always on My Mind”

“Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”

“Hey, Good Lookin’”

“Move It On Over”


“Georgia on a Fast Train”

“My Favorite Picture of You”

“Maybe I Should Have Been Listening”

“It’s Hard to Be Humble”

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”/“I’ll Fly Away”

“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”

“Christians everywhere should be up in arms”: Willie Nelson speaks out on immigrant family separations at border

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
by: Cailin O’Kane

Music legend and Texas native Willie Nelson is speaking out about the immigration controversy currently unfolding in his state and other stretches along America’s southern border.

Under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally faces criminal prosecution. Children traveling with adults are being separated from their families and placed into shelters. The Department of Homeland Security said Friday that nearly 2,000 children have been separated over a six-week period, a practice that many leaders in both parties have criticized as “inhumane.”

“What’s going on at our southern border is outrageous,” Nelson said in a statement Thursday, first reported by Rolling Stone Country. “Christians everywhere should be up in arms. What happened to ‘Bring us your tired and weak and we will make them strong?’ This is still the promise land,” Nelson said.

Nelson was quoting lyrics from “Living in the Promiseland,” a song written by David Lynn Jones and recorded by Nelson for his 1986 album “The Promiseland.” The song’s lyrics are a play on the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Nelson’s appeal to Christians seemed intended as a rebuttal to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who defended the policy on biblical grounds. Sessions said last week, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” 

Nelson is not the only critic of Sessions’ Bible citation. Members of Sessions’ own denomination, the United Methodists, accused him of enacting policies they call child abuse. The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, along with the Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Barber, in separate statements, called Sessions’ use of biblical scripture incorrect.

“The Bible does not justify discrimination masked as racism, sexism, economic inequality, oppression or the abuse of children,” said the bishops’ group.

Nelson, 85, grew up in Abbott, Texas, and currently owns a home in Austin, where the organization Families Belong Together held rallies and protests against the zero-tolerance policy over the weekend. 

Willie Nelson, Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss (Outlaw Festival, Pittsburgh)

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Ride Me Back Home, by Willie Nelson (previews by Mikal Gilmore)

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Willie Nelson & Family at first ever Beach Life Festival in LA

Monday, May 13th, 2019
photo: Alan Sheckter

Illustrious musicians from the vanguard to the nostalgic, some of who began plying their craft in the ‘60s, and others who are poised for big recognition in the 2020s, all shared a distinctive Southern California seaside aesthetic at the inaugural BeachLife Festival May 3 to 5. BeachLife, the biggest fest ever to blast its jukebox along the Santa Monica Bay at Redondo Beach, combined sun, sounds, sand, and surf and passed its acid test with flying colors.

The fest began with a pre-noon alt-surf-rock set on Friday by local band Alinea, who noted that theirs was the opening performance at the first-ever BeachLife Fest with the apt observation, “If you’re missing this set, you’re missing history.” The event, which drew upwards of 10,000 colorful attendees, ended Sunday night with a sunset serenade by Willie Nelson and Family. The weather was splendid throughout, with highs in the upper 60s – for which some folks were outfitted in long sleeves and long pants, and others in shorts and bathing suits.

Willie and Weed

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
by: John Nelson

The branding power of Willie Nelson draws a crowd even in states where weed is illegal.

Take Texas, for example.

At the Luck Reunion, an annual music festival held on Nelson’s ranch about 45 minutes outside Austin in March, there was a huge line to get into the Willie’s Reserve merchandise store, where vape pens, lighters, bandanas, hats, T-shirts and other clothing were on sale. No weed was available – at least legally – anywhere at the festival, but that didn’t seem to matter to the cannabis lovers who clamored for the merch.

“There’s a huge demand among fans to show their love for Willie,” said Elizabeth Hogan, vice president of brand and communications for Willie’s Reserve, Nelson’s cannabis brand.

Alan Verhines, a fan attending the Luck Reunion from Indianapolis, walked out of the store with a Willie’s Reserve tote bag, hat and a few other items he had just purchased.

“Most of this stuff I’m going to give away,” he said. “It’s never too soon to think about Christmas.”

Another fan, Ben from Austin (who asked that his last name not be used), purchased a Willie’s Reserve vape pen.

“I’m a big believer in hemp, and I’m a big supporter of Willie,” he said.

Beyond the swag, the Willie’s Reserve cannabis products have an ardent following. You can buy his licensed flower strains and products in states where weed is legal, including Washington, Oregon and Colorado.

Some of the strains sold in Washington include Mr. Nice, LA Confidential, Big Blue and Glitter Glue. Besides flower and pre-rolls, Willie’s Reserve has an ever-growing menu of edible products.

In the Spokane area, Willie’s Reserve is sold at Primo Cannabis, Apex Cannabis, Locals Canna House, Cannabis and Glass, Lovely Buds and Lucky Leaf, according to the Willie’s Reserve website. Pullman, Clarkston and Walla Walla also have outlets.

So far, reviews from retailers are positive. Neil Waldbjorn, store manager for Local Roots Marijuana in Everett, said he’s impressed with Willie’s Reserve as a company. Waldbjorn was attending the Luck Reunion wearing a Seahawks ball cap, standing out among the vast field of cowboy hats.

“The company is well organized, which shows me they’ll be around long term,” he said.

Willie’s Reserve partners with farmers who use sustainable practices, giving an assist to “the independent American farmer,” Hogan said, an offshoot of Nelson’s well-publicized efforts with Farm Aid, the long running benefit concert to assist American family farms.

The company’s website lists six growers it works with in Washington, including Leaves of Grass in Wenatchee. On the retail end, outlets offering “good consumer experience” are chosen, according to Hogan.

In Texas, Nelson is supporting efforts to legalize hemp farming, a logical first step in a conservative state that still doesn’t allow medical sales of marijuana.

“It’s very meaningful to Willie to see hemp plants grown in his home state,” Hogan said.

Eventually, that could lead to legal sales of cannabis, she said, given the state’s libertarian streak.

“There’s a strong appreciation for freedom in Texas,” said Hogan, looking around at the crowd of fans scurrying around the Willie’s Reserve store at the Luck Reunion. “The more we can show that cannabis can be sold responsibly elsewhere, the better chance we have.”J

Is Willie Nelson the Top Balladeer? (New York Times) (September 9, 1981)

Monday, May 6th, 2019

WHY is Willie Nelson, who wears his long, graying hair in braids, dresses like a hippie and was singing honky tonk music in Texas roadhouses as long ago as the l950’s, America’s most admired pop balladeer?

Kenny Rogers sells more records with his saccharine love songs and stagey whisky-rasp, and Frank Sinatra is certainly still a force to be reckoned with, but it is Willie Nelson who has turned chestnuts like ”Georgia on My Mind,” ”Stardust” and ”Mona Lisa” into recent pop hits, and Mr. Nelson draws a more diverse audience than either Mr. Rogers or Mr. Sinatra. The last time he performed in New York, pot-smoking rock fans were sitting next to middle-aged businessmen and their wives and a few grandmothers, and all of them were hanging on to Willie Nelson’s every word.

The release this week of ”Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits” (Columbia records) offers some clues, both in the music it includes and in what it omits. On first hearing, Mr. Nelson’s dry, reedy tenor can sound deceptively thin, but listening to his hits back to back, one soon notices a sinewy strength that’s barely hidden behind his apparently vulnerable sound and casual delivery. One also notices that most of his hit records have used a sound, a kind of musical formula, that refers to several traditions, including country music, rock, folk and middle-of-the-road pop, without really belonging to any of them. Their most characteristic sound is a softly strummed acoustic guitar, a wailing harmonica played by his band’s most prominent soloist, Mickey Raphael, and Mr. Nelson singing, straightforwardly and with just a hint of melancholy, about faded loves, rejection in love, and men who are drawn to the open road and can’t seem to help themselves, men who live like cowboys not because they want to but because that’s what they are. A Land of Cowboys

Cowboys – there’s a clue. America needs its cowboys. There’s a cowboy in the White House, a cowboy who likes living on his ranch and gives press conferences with his boots on. There were latter-day cowboys in ”Urban Cowboy,” one of the most successful films and record-album soundtracks last year. There are more and more countryand-western clubs opening, and more and more city slickers in western shirts and boots to go to them, even in Manhattan. And Willie Nelson is a cowboy.

He’s still a convincing cowboy at the age of 48. He crisscrossed Texas for years, playing in roadside honky tonks. He peddled his songs in Nashville, and some of them, most notably ”Crazy” and ”Funny (How Time Slips Away),” became country standards. But record producers in Nashville didn’t think he could sing, and when he did get a chance to record, he was saddled with string orchestras and inappropriate material. By the time he finally became a full-fledged country star, in the mid-70’s, he had been branded an ”outlaw” by Nashville’s conservative country-music establishment, and although he has long since become a pop star, with a fistful of platinum albums and singles and several film roles to his credit, he still projects that outlaw image.

This is a curious thing. What one sees is an outlaw – a cowboy gone wrong. What one hears, especially on Mr. Nelson’s recordings of ”Stardust” and other standards, is a weathe red but reassuring voicesinging the old songs as if they really matte r to him, against a simple, folksy musical backdrop. Apparently, American pop consumers won’t buy records of songs like ”Stardust” when they are performed by entertainers who project an old-fashioned, sophisticated showbusiness image, but they will buy them wh en the singer is a longhaired, pot-smoking rebel. The countercul ture of the 60’s has become the mainstream culture of the 80’s, an d Mr. Nelson is the one American popular singer who gives the impress ion of being part of both the counterculture and the mainstream at the same time. Back to Honky Tonk

Interestingly, ”Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits,” a double album that includes two previously unreleased performances, has only one of his performances of pop evergreens on it -his hit version of ”Georgia on My Mind.” The rest of the album concentrates on hits that are clos er to country music and to country rock. There are several live performances recorded with his wonderfully idiosyncraticband, which l ayers electric guitars and back-country church-style piano over he avy bass and the two-beat cowboy drumming of Mr. Nelson’s long time sidekick, Paul English. There are tributes to Mr. Nelson’s honk y-tonk roots, including a fine reworking of Lefty Frizzell’s ” If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” and two numbers, ”Fa ded Love” and ”Stay a Little Longer,” that were associated wi th the late Bob Wills, ”King of Western Swing” and probably the most popular Southwestern entertainer or all time. Mr. Nelson’s most celebrated duet with his fellow country ”Outlaw” Waylon Jennin gs, ”Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” is here, too.

So ”Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits” is really the best of Willie Nelson, country singer, an album for his hard-core fans. Perhaps he feels that with his albums of pre-World War II pop standards and his movie appearances, he has been neglecting the people who made his reputation in the first place. At any rate, he is still a winning country stylist. And it is somehow reassuring, at a time when most country entertainers can’t wait to get that first pop hit and start wearing tuxedos and playing Las Vegas, to find one who knows who he is and what he comes from. Maybe that’s why his fans accept the long hair and the rumpled clothes; they are outward indications that no matter how successful he becomes, the inner Willie Nelson is not about to change.

Willie Nelson & Family and Friends in Springfield, MO (April 8, 2016)

Monday, April 8th, 2019


Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, and Ryan Bingham performed in front of a packed house at the O’Reilly Family Event Center at Drury University Friday night.  Merle Haggard was originally on the ticket with Willie promoting their new album together titled Django and Jimmie but failing health had kept Merle off the tour and he cancelled all upcoming concert dates just a few weeks ago.  Merle Haggard died this past Wednesday, April 6, 2016, due to complications with pneumonia.



willieeww2 willieww  Jamey Johnson performed an entire set of Merle’s songs and Willie closed out the show with Johnson and Bingham singing Merle’s famous song Okie from Muskogee.  Willie’s son Lucas Nelson was a great addition to Willie’s band playing some backup rhythm guitar and he electrified the audience when he took center stage to sing Texas Flood with some incredible guitar work.