Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

Willie Nelson and Dan Rather

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

garymillertoo

 

Dan Rather, Willie Nelson, Andy Langer
photo:  Gary Miller

www.nytimes.com
by:  Andy Langer

Shortly after the midterm elections, Willie Nelson confessed with characteristic humor that he was disappointed by the results.

“I’ve got a new song called ‘Y’all Got the Ball,’ ” he said, referring to the Republican takeover of the United States Senate.

Whether the song actually exists, Mr. Nelson won’t say. But he is working at a pace that belies his 81 years: Last week, he released  “December Day”, an album of duets with his sister Bobbie. It follows “Band of Brothers”,  which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart in June. An album of duets with Merle Haggard is planned for release early next year.

Mr. Nelson’s longtime friend Dan Rather, 83, also isn’t slowing down. The journalist anchors two programs for AXS television — “Dan Rather Presents,” an investigative program, and “The Big Interview,” featuring celebrities. Last month, he interviewed Mr. Nelson and Mr. Haggard together for a new program, “Inside Arlyn,” that Mr. Nelson is hosting.

Still in the pilot stage, without an announced network or airdate, the program pairs Mr. Nelson with legends and newcomers for live performances recorded at Austin’s Arlyn Studios. Mr. Haggard was the guest for the first pilot episode, and the young Austin bluesman Gary Clark Jr. played with Mr. Nelson for the second.

Immediately following Mr. Rather’s interviews for “Inside Arlyn,” Mr. Rather and Mr. Nelson talked about music, politics and longevity.

QUESTION:    You both got your starts in Texas radio.

RATHER:    I didn’t know until recently that Willie was a disc jockey in Houston the same time I worked at KTRH. We were the “50,000-watt voice of the golden Gulf Coast. Tall tower, full power. We break in when news breaks out.” Where were you?

NELSON:    KRCT in Pasadena. We played country music. I also got to promote the shows I was working in the clubs. I had a good thing going.

RATHER:    I have fond memories of KTRH. We had a live program at noon, “Hillbilly Bandwagon” with Babe Fritsch. We’re talking in the mid-fifties. That’s where I met Elvis Presley. He was still truck driving some between shows when he came in for an interview. He was scruffy. I had a feeling he’d been up all night driving. He apologized and said indeed he had, but whether that’s true or not, I’ll never know.

Q:    Dan, I’ve heard you talk about the role of music as solace and company when you’re reporting. I suspect you’ve listened to Willie in some faraway, dangerous places.

RATHER:    Absolutely. I don’t want to be sophomoric about this, but I always felt a strong bond because he was the voice of the Texas I knew. I knew Willie’s music before “Red Headed Stranger.” “Hello Walls” was always one of my all-time favorites. But the first time I heard his version of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” I literally pulled the car off the road someplace in Alabama. I’d heard others sing the song, but Willie cut somewhere really deep within me. I remember thinking that if Willie doesn’t record another song the rest of his life, that song will still resonate through the ages.

Q:    Willie, people must tell you those kinds of stories all day.

NELSON:    And I can listen to ’em all day.

Q: But what’s that mean to you as a songwriter? You sit with pen and paper and later people have these deep, meaningful experiences.

NELSON:    It’s easy for me to understand how someone can be a fan of someone. I have similar experiences with Hank Williams or Floyd Tillman. I was telling a friend the other day that people pay a lot of money to come to hear me or somebody sing and there’s an energy exchange that takes place out there that you can’t put a price on.

Q:    Dan, you’ve got two shows. Willie, you tour nonstop. Is passion the key to longevity?

NELSON:    Definitely. But also anybody that sings for two hours has to be in pretty good physical condition. You’re using your lungs — one of your largest muscles in your body. It’s a good workout. I ride my bike a little, but the real workout is the show.

RATHER:    I do think passion is a key to longevity. Another is gratitude. God, thank you for giving me something I love to do and for letting me still do it. There’s nothing like feeling you’re out front of a big breaking story.

Q:    Are we at the point where politics are simply too divisive to get anything done?

RATHER:    The short answer is yes. And it’s something I worry about. And I’m not a worrier by nature. I’m an optimist by nature and experience. But none of us ask often enough, “What’s good for the country?” In elected politics they too often ask, “What’s good for me in the next race or for the party?” I’m a child of World War II, and I remember the time everybody pulled together.

NELSON:    We have to start rebuilding our infrastructure, our highways and roads, and employ all those unemployed people building our country back. That’s where the money should go.

Q:    There’s a Ratherism along the lines of, “The Michigan race is tighter than a Willie Nelson headband.” How tight is a Willie Nelson headband?

NELSON:    Pretty tight indeed.

 

Grammy Foundation to honor Willie Nelson for humanitarian work

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Willie Nelson_13-137-35_300
p
hoto:  Ebet Roberts

www.rollingstone.com
by: Andrew Leahey

It’s been nearly 30 years since Willie Nelson teamed up with Neil Young and John Mellencamp to launch Farm Aid, a nonprofit organization and annual benefit concert supporting American farmers. That sort of charitable spirit — along with one of the most enduring catalogs in country music — has landed him a spot in the upcoming Grammy Foundation Legacy Concert, which helps kick off Grammy Weekend on February 5, 2015.

Formerly called the Music Preservation Concert, the Grammy Foundation Legacy Concert combines live performances with video footage from the Grammy archives. February’s show, dubbed “Lean On Me: A Celebration of Music and Philanthropy,” will shine a light on some of the industry’s leading humanitarians, including Nelson, education philanthropist Bryan Adams and gay rights activists Melissa Etheridge and Cyndi Lauper. Songwriter-producer Darrell Brown, who co-wrote Keith Urban’s Grammy-winning “You’ll Think of Me,” will reprise his usual role as the show’s music director. The concert will take place at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, and will also feature performances by Robin Thicke and Aloe Blacc.

Meanwhile, Nelson — who celebrated the 50-year anniversary of his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry last Friday — is gearing up for the release of his newest album, Willie’s Stash, Vol.1, December Day: which hits stores tomorrow. Watch the icon duet with his sister, Bobbie Nelson, on one of the album’s most storied songs, “Who’ll Buy My Memories?” here.

 

Willie Nelson to perform at Grammy Foundation Legacy Concert (Feb. 5, 2015)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

legacy
www.grammyfoundation.com
by: Kevin Rutherford

GRAMMY FOUNDATION: LEAN ON ME

Bryan Adams, Willie Nelson and Cyndi Lauper are among the mix of artists coming to the GRAMMY Foundation’s upcoming Legacy Concert.
Aloe Blacc, Robin Thicke and Melissa Etheridge will also perform at the 17th annual concert, this year titled Lean on Me: A Celebration of Music and Philanthropy.

The evening of music will be held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 5. It’ll be helmed by Darrell Brown, a board member of the GRAMMY Foundation and prolific songwriter, particularly in the genre of country.

Tickets are $45 and can be purchased via the GRAMMY Foundation’s website or online here.

The event is part of GRAMMY Week and precedes the 57th GRAMMY Awards, which will be held Feb. 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Nominations for the awards will be announced next month.

Willie Nelson at the Riverfront Coliseum

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

riverfront2

Bruce Robins talks (and sings) about WIllie Nelson

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

www.theeagle.com
by: Bruce Robison

The legend Willie Nelson, as I understand it, wrote some hits, recorded some duds, tried pig farming, left Nashville in a hail of pot smoke and gunfire, came home to Texas, found his sound, united the culture and the counter-culture at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin and became an American icon.

And I hear Willie’s gonna be on the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine.

Less-widely known is that before Austin, Willie and his family landed in Bandera, Texas, my hometown of less than 1,000 people, a town of dude ranches and real ranches. Willie had just recently left Bandera when my family moved there in 1970. Some of his crowd was still around, though.

My parents would see him play at John T. Floore Country Store in Helotes (they still have the sign up that says he plays every week). Local legend was that the owner, John T. Floore, had loaned Willie some money, and Willie promised to play only there in the San Antonio market while Floore was alive.

I have been an amateur Willie-ologist most of my life. We bought a fancy new console stereo in the early ’70s, and along with the player, my folks bought Shotgun Willie, Phases and Stages and Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits on eight-track tapes.

Folks of a certain age know that if you plug in a pink Phases and Stages eight-track tape in 1975, it will play continuously until 1981. Through all kinds of weird ’70s crap that little kids don’t remotely understand. From being Down at the Corner Beer Joint all the way to “carin’ for someone who don’t care anymore.” I listened to Jerry Jeff Walker for fun, but when my folks bitterly divorced, Willie narrated from that console stereo.

Those songs came right before the great success of Red Headed Stranger and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. But those are the songs I would love to ask Willie about. In the few times I have been around him, the time has never seemed right. Not the time when we were both at a dinner party, and I went into the study with the menfolk and did what the menfolk do. (I subsequently made a major fool of myself and actually fell UP a flight of stairs in front of a table full of Texas royalty … ask my wife.)

Or the time when Willie and I played golf in a foursome with Jesse Ventura. (Jesse would rush to whoever had the best drive and yell, in a comically thick Minnesota accent, “BOY, I REALLY CRUSHED THAT ONE!”) We didn’t argue.

Those are just my ideas of great country songs. (How Will I Know) I’m Falling in Love Again, Sister’s Coming Home, Bloody Mary Morning, Sad Songs and Waltzes — I still listen to them all the time. And they still come with weird memories from way back when. One of the best songs I have written, Angry All the Time, is right in that vein. I think it was heavily influenced by the first-person tone of Phases and Stages.

I don’t really count What Would Willie Do among my very best songs, but I think it is actually funny, which you can’t say for a whole lot of novelty-type songs. It started when I saw a certain country star in a Nashville restaurant, and he had what I call the thousand-mile stare. This kind of weird look of somebody who has been too famous for too long, met too many people, played too many crappy gigs, gone too high and then too low. I’m reading a lot into this, I know, but it made me marvel about Willie.

You know how they say don’t meet your heroes? Well, Willie just never seems to disappoint you. He seems so kind to everybody, so affable, and sharp, too.

Soon after that restaurant scene, I was mowing the yard one day and sort of plugged Willie into the Jesus story. I had the whole song written in my head before I was done with the yard (and it was a small yard).

I had to change the song a bit, years later. We were in Chicago, and my broken-down tour bus broke down. Willie and family happened to be at the same hotel. Willie’s longtime bus driver, Gates “Gator” Moore, actually crawled under our bus and fixed the damn thing in a hot parking lot. Then, as I was thanking him, he gave me an icy stare and informed me “It’s GATOR. There IS no Rooster.”

(In my song, Willie talks “to ol’ Rooster as they drive on down the line.” I got the character from watching Honeysuckle Rose 35 times. In the movie, Willie teaches “Rooster” to keep his head down while swinging a golf club, by draping him with an apparatus that, if he lifts up, will pull a meat hook into his balls. I told you the ’70s were awesome!)

But, trust me, it’s great to have a funny song to throw into the set at the right moment. Too many tragically doomed travelin’ soldiers will occasionally have you wishing John Belushi would come up and smash your guitar. It’s nice to see someone on “the cover of the Rolling Stone” whom I have heard of, and who is also alive.

Keep on rolling, Willie.

• Bruce Robison — whose songs have been recorded by George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill — lives in Austin with his wife and fellow singer-songwriter, Kelly Willis. See more from them at bruceandkellyshow.com.

Read article, and more:

http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/the-wonders-of-willie-singer-songwriter-bruce-robison-recalls-nelson/article_6349e63a-45e6-5ca7-92d3-3851524b55a3.html

“The Art of McCartney”, with Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Billy Joe and more

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

artmc

http://www.statepress.com

by:   Samantha Shotzbarger

Willie Nelson’s “Yesterday” is a perfect example of new interpretation meeting original artistry and an album highlight. Nelson’s unique vocals meld perfectly with the original song and the addition of beautiful new guitar licks and a haunting harmonica solo are perfectly compatible with honoring one of the most remembered songs of the century.

The Art of McCartney Track List:

  • 1. Billy Joel – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
  • 2. Bob Dylan – “Things We Said Today”
  • 3. Heart – “Band on the Run”
  • 4. Steve Miller – “Junior’s Farm”
  • 5. Yusuf Islam – “The Long and Winding Road”
  • 6. Harry Connick, Jr. – “My Love”
  • 7. Brian Wilson – “Wanderlust”
  • 8. Corinne Bailey Rae – “Bluebird”
  • 9. Willie Nelson – “Yesterday”
  • 10. Jeff Lynne – “Junk”
  • 11. Barry Gibb – “When I’m 64?
  • 12. Jamie Cullum – “Every Night”
  • 13. Kiss – “Venus and Mars”/”Rock Show”
  • 14. Paul Rodgers – “Let Me Roll It”
  • 15. Roger Daltrey – “Helter Skelter”
  • 16. Def Leppard – “Helen Wheels”
  • 17. The Cure, featuring James McCartney – “Hello Goodbye”
  • 18. Billy Joel – “Live and Let Die”
  • 19. Chrissie Hynde – “Let It Be”
  • 20. Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen – “Jet”
  • 21. Joe Elliott – “Hi Hi Hi”
  • 22. Heart – “Letting Go”
  • 23. Steve Miller – “Hey Jude”
  • 24. Owl City – “Listen to What the Man Said”
  • 25. Perry Farrell – “Got to Get You Into My Life”
  • 26. Dion – “Drive My Car”
  • 27. Allen Toussaint – “Lady Madonna”
  • 28. Dr. John – “Let ‘Em In”
  • 29. Smokey Robinson – “So Bad”
  • 30. The Airborne Toxic Event – “No More Lonely Nights”
  • 31. Alice Cooper – “Eleanor Rigby”
  • 32. Toots Hibbert with Sly & Robbie – “Come and Get It”
  • 33. B.B. King – “On the Way”
  • 34. Sammy Hagar – “Birthday”

http://www.statepress.com/2014/11/19/paul-mccartney-honored-in-beautiful-yet-redundant-ways-on-the-art-of-mccartney/

Willie Nelson and Bobbie Nelson, “Who’ll Buy My Memories”, from new album “December Day”

Friday, November 21st, 2014

www.rollingstone.com
by:  Andrew Leahey

When federal agents raided Willie Nelson’s home on November 9, 1990, they weren’t looking for drugs. Instead, the feds were intent on seizing most of Nelson’s worldly possessions — including his recording studio, instruments, memorabilia and more than 20 properties in four different states — to help pay off the whopping $16.7 million he’d racked up in back taxes and penalties. The only thing they didn’t get was Trigger, Nelson’s favorite guitar, which had been spirited away from the home several days earlier by his daughter, Lana. 

Nelson wound up using Trigger — and nothing else — to record his next album, The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?, an acoustic collection of new songs and old standbys. Released in 1992, the album’s profits went straight to the IRS, which helped Nelson finally dig himself out of debt. More than two decades later, he’s still playing Trigger (a Martin N-20 classical guitar that’s as weathered and mellow-sounding as its owner), as well as “Who’ll Buy My Memories?,” which makes a revised appearance on the upcoming album December Day

Due out on December 2nd, December Day finds Nelson teaming up with his sister and longtime bandmate, Bobbie Nelson, for a mix of re-recorded greatest hits, deep cuts, cover songs and new originals. The project was borne from a string of casual jam sessions aboard the country legend’s tour bus, the biodiesel-fueled Honeysuckle Rose, where he and Bobbie — armed with Trigger, a travel-size keyboard and a musical chemistry that dates back to the siblings’ childhood days in Abbott, Texas — have a long history of regrouping after shows to play their favorite songs. The two rustle up the laid-back, stripped-down vibe of those bus sessions in a live studio performance of “Who’ll Buy My Memories Again?,” which makes its premiere today exclusively on Rolling Stone Country. [Watch above.]

“A past that’s sprinkled with the blues / A few old dreams that I can’t use,” Willie sings at the song’s outset, punctuating certain lines with jazzy, out-of-time runs on Trigger’s beat-up fretboard. Bobbie accompanies him on grand piano, and the pair’s performance is intercut with grainy footage of their hometown, including churches, crops, the Abbott water tower and endless expanses of blue Texas sky.

Twenty years ago, “Who’ll Buy My Memories?” felt like a kiss-off to the IRS, which sold Nelson’s repossessed belongings to the highest bidder. [In a touching display of support, many of Nelson’s fans purchased those belongings and then donated them back to the original owner.] Today, with Shotgun Willie nearing 82 years old, the song is a poignant reminder that everyone — even one of the country music’s most enduring icons — is mortal.  After nearly 70 studio albums, Nelson is focused less on sticking it to the (tax)man and more on highlighting the things that never really die: family bonds, memories and the music that glues them all together.

 

Willie Nelson & Family at the House of Blues, Houston (11/19/14)

Friday, November 21st, 2014

wnhob

http://blog.chron.com

by:  Craig Hlavat

Seeing the legendary Willie Nelson live is like visiting the Alamo, eating something fried and bad for you at the State Fair in Dallas, taking in a Friday night high school football game, staring at God’s dusty creations in West Texas, gazing up at the San Jacinto Monument on a sweltering afternoon, or getting a bag full of Whataburger at 2 a.m. These are timeless Texas traditions that everyone should do at least once, or multiple times if they are lucky.

Willie Nelson played Houston’s House of Blues on Tuesday night, and he brought fellow aging Texas gunslinger Billy Joe Shaver with him as opening support.

Shaver is currently touring behind a new album, “Long in the Tooth,” which sounds nothing but. Houston’s favorite upright bassist Nick Gaitan was on the lead rumble for Shaver, as he has been for a few year now. Shaver looked great in front Willie’s large Texas flag backdrop. Who else but these two artists could have a Texas flag as big as a house as their stage backdrop? ZZ Top? George Strait? Beyonce? OK, that might be a stretch.

I’ve broken down the Willie Nelson show experience in alphabet form before, if you need a bit more enlightenment.

I’ve said plenty of times in the past — at the Houston Chronicle and at other outlets — that Willie is a finite resource, a resource which you should partake in at least once a year while you are still both breathing the same air. Last night was just one of many nights that have affirmed that. The 81-year-old country monolith became a fifth degree black belt this past year in the Austin area, which makes him easily one of the most dangerous octogenarians in Texas.

Tuesday night’s show was marked by Willie charming licks from his sidekick guitar Trigger, a boisterous crowd, and the faint hint of greenery in the air. (Spoiler alert: Nelson opened the show with “Whiskey River,” like he has done since before most of us were born. There no was no immediate tally on how much whiskey was actually consumed at the show at press time.)

Three songs into the show I made it to the back bar where someone’s grandmother breathed in the air deeply as a concertgoer nearby puffed away on something still illegal in Texas (for now).

“Oh, that takes me back! It’s not even skunk weed!” she exclaimed about a good foot below me as she tried to buy me a shot, a beer, and another drink after that. It’s a school night, ma’am.

At the merch table, Willie’s people were selling an array of shirts, bandanas, vinyl, compact discs, and even a stuffed, Muppet-like Willie doll, one of which is currently staring at me as I type this.

Willie hit all the hallmarks last night, including “Still Is Still Moving to Me”, “Beer for My Horses”, “Good Hearted Woman”, “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”, “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind”. When you watch Willie onstage, backed by his usual cohorts, you have to take a few minutes to drink it all in. Watch the strings on Trigger vibrate, see Paul English set the tempo, and smile at the delicate way Mickey Raphael coaxes sound from his harmonica.

Lately he has made a point of closing shows with a run of spirituals to send us off into the night with the Lord in our hearts. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “I Saw the Light” turned the House of Blues into a gospel revival, though hearing a few thousand slurring voices singing about the sweet by and by probably brings about a mighty tsk from the man upstairs. “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” is easily a modern hymn of Willie’s own design, praising the natural relaxant.

One last thought: My Christmas wish is for Houston fans to shut up during concerts. I know, it’s a rote request but at Willie shows it somehow burns a bit more. Even during songs like “Always On My Mind” I could hear conversations about horrible bosses, jerk neighbors, and the current whereabouts of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.

pathob
That’s Pat (Miss Tex) enjoying the show!

See more photos:

http://blog.chron.com/rantandrave/2014/11/willie-nelson-at-the-house-of-blues-in-houston/#28566101=2

 

Willie Nelson & Family at Gruene Hall (Nov. 16, 2014)

Friday, November 21st, 2014

gruene2
www.mysanantonio.com
by: Lorne Chann

Willie Nelson at Gruene Hall may be classified by many as a religious experience in Texas.

On a chilly Sunday night, the 136-year-old dancehall welcomed the 81-year-old bandleader as he stepped through the “Willie Door,” the side entrance at Gruene Hall specifically created for Nelson.

Nelson sang a tune for Waylon and a few for Hank Williams as he worked through a 24-song, 70-minute set for a sold-out crowd of 800, who paid $105 per ticket to cross one off their bucket lists.

The biggest numbers from his catalogue were all there, entering on “Whiskey River,” captivating the audience on “Always on my Mind,” and generating a true feel of a revival on Hank’s “I Saw the Light.”

And like any experience that feels like an all-time moment, hundreds were left huddled at the front of the stage wanting more. The show ended without an encore, with many chanting for one more song even after roadies unplugged the microphones.

Nelson might be the most prolific octogenarian around, after releasing the No.1 country album “Band of Brothers” in June. His Gruene show was one of four he’ll play in the area in a five-week span, outpacing most local club acts. Nelson also played two nights at Floore’s Country Store last month and is coming to the Majestic Theatre next Sunday..

There’s still the workmanlike quality to Nelson and his famous guitar Trigger, as he appeared at 8:30 p.m. on the dot and played straight through with short breaks for two instrumental interludes.

“Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Crazy,” “On The Road Again,” and “Always On My Mind,” got the requisite biggest responses, and clear crowd pleasers were covers of “Georgia on my Mind,” Waylon Jennings’ “Good Hearted Woman,” Toby Keith’s “Beer for my Horses,” and a trio of Hank Williams numbers, “Jambalaya On The Bayou,” “Hey, Good Lookin,'” and “Move it on Over.”

Nelson brought opener Billy Joe Shaver on stage for “Georgia on a Fast Train,” as the 75-year-old Shaver had a great contribution to the memorable night with his 55-minute opening set.

Shaver also played “Georgia on a Fast Train,” along with “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal,” “Hard to be an Outlaw,” and a slew of rabble-rousing honky-tonk tunes. One moment from the Shaver set came when he announced between songs that a red Ford Expedition was blocking the entrance for Willie’s bus.

It was a reminder that a legend was about to pause his theatre tour to play the old dancehall one more time, and the Willie Door is always open for him, even if a car’s parked in his spot.

gruene3a

lchan@express-news.net
Twitter:@lornechan

Willie Nelson & Family @ Texas A&M (11/17/14)

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

mc
photo:  Dave McDermand

www.theeagle.com
by:  Rob Clark

It was a fitting entrance for a no-frills legend on Monday night. Willie Nelson sauntered out onto the simple stage setup at Rudder Auditorium, offered a quick wave and started playing.

The concert, presented by MSC OPAS, was a workmanlike affair — light on banter, heavy on the hits, starting (as always) with Johnny Bush’s Whiskey River.

He was clad in all black, but switched early on from a cowboy hat to his trademark bandana. Then every few songs, he’d switch that bandana out and toss the used one into the front of the crowd, like a blue-collar version of Elvis Presley’s old parade of souvenir scarves.

Nelson’s guitar playing — one of his more underrated strengths — was strong and vibrant in Still Is Still Moving to Me and Funny How Time Slips Away. Each time the focus turned to his longtime instrument Trigger, it was fascinating to watch him work. His sister Bobbie — known of course as Sister Bobbie — was near perfection on piano, from the well-known tracks to plunking her way through straight-out-of-a-saloon solos.

As he has demonstrated so many times over the years, Nelson loves digging into other artists’ music. He offered his take on Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through the Night, Tom T. Hall’s Shoeshine Man and Hank Williams’ Hey Good Lookin’ and Jambalaya (On the Bayou).

Some of Nelson’s own tracks seemed to take on new life. Me and Paul, with its stories of intoxicated encounters, cracked up a good portion of the crowd. Nelson’s delivery made the song seem fresh, as if it centered around current Willie-on-the-bus adventures.

The pacing was curious as always. “Curious” is not meant as a dig — it’s just interesting to see how Nelson finds his way through a song. He would plow past the melody, or let it pass him by completely. Just one of those things that makes him Willie.

More than one longtime fan warned me beforehand that Nelson “talks more than he sings” now in concert. There’s truth to that, but Nelson is far from alone in that distinction. Anyone who has seen Mick Jagger perform in the past decade knows he basically barks — there’s no real singing there — but is still a wonder to see in person. Not all artists are as fortunate as James Taylor and Don Williams, who are blessed to sound remarkably similar as they did 40 years ago.

So yes, each line of Whiskey River trailed off at the end with a downward spoken note rather than the vocal flourish we know from hearing it on the radio for so many years. But Nelson’s voice frequently broke through that pattern, providing especially thrilling moments during Crazy, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, Always on My Mind and the show-closing gospel medley.

Another preshow warning: With as many hits as Nelson has, some will get overlooked. I made the mistake of declaring earlier in the day that Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain was my only must-hear track of the night. Naturally, that meant that we did not hear it Monday night. Though I was surprised at the song’s omission, it didn’t matter a lick.

This wasn’t about a roster of hits to mark off, or adding to anyone’s “best show ever” list. It didn’t matter how strong his voice was compared to his heyday, and it didn’t matter what direction and speed he chose to take during each song.

It was a chance to appreciate a true music legend. The crowd’s standing ovation at the show’s conclusion was less about the preceding 90 minutes and more about celebrating Nelson the man, and recognizing the role his music has played in many of our lives. It was well-deserved applause.

And then Nelson was gone, off to hit the road for a Tuesday night concert, part of a six-shows-in-seven-days stretch. Just another work week for an 81-year-old icon.

Willie Nelson & Family @ Gruene Hall (11/15/14)

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

gruene

http://www.mysanantonio.com

by: Lorne Chan

Willie Nelson at Gruene Hall may be classified by many as a religious experience in Texas.

On a chilly Sunday night, the 136-year-old dancehall welcomed the 81-year-old bandleader as he stepped through the “Willie Door,” the side entrance at Gruene Hall specifically created for Nelson.
Nelson sang a tune for Waylon and a few for Hank Williams as he worked through a 24-song, 70-minute set for a sold-out crowd of 800, who paid $105 per ticket to cross one off their bucket lists.

The biggest numbers from his catalogue were all there, entering on “Whiskey River,” captivating the audience on “Always on my Mind,” and generating a true feel of a revival on Hank’s “I Saw the Light.”

And like any experience that feels like an all-time moment, hundreds were left huddled at the front of the stage wanting more. The show ended without an encore, with many chanting for one more song even after roadies unplugged the microphones.

Nelson might be the most prolific octogenarian around, after releasing the No.1 country album “Band of Brothers” in June. His Gruene show was one of four he’ll play in the area in a five-week span, outpacing most local club acts. Nelson also played two nights at Floore’s Country Store last month and is coming to the Majestic Theatre next Sunday, with tickets still available at Ticketmaster.


2013

There’s still the workmanlike quality to Nelson and his famous guitar Trigger, as he appeared at 8:30 p.m. on the dot and played straight through with short breaks for two instrumental interludes.

“Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Crazy,” “On The Road Again,” and “Always On My Mind,” got the requisite biggest responses, and clear crowd pleasers were covers of “Georgia on my Mind,” Waylon Jennings’ “Good Hearted Woman,” Toby Keith’s “Beer for my Horses,” and a trio of Hank Williams numbers, “Jambalaya On The Bayou,” “Hey, Good Lookin,'” and “Move it on Over.”

Nelson brought opener Billy Joe Shaver on stage for “Georgia on a Fast Train,” as the 75-year-old Shaver had a great contribution to the memorable night with his 55-minute opening set.

Shaver also played “Georgia on a Fast Train,” along with “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal,” “Hard to be an Outlaw,” and a slew of rabble-rousing honky-tonk tunes. One moment from the Shaver set came when he announced between songs that a red Ford Expedition was blocking the entrance for Willie’s bus.

It was a reminder that a legend was about to pause his theatre tour to play the old dancehall one more time, and the Willie Door is always open for him, even if a car’s parked in his spot.

lchan@express-news.net
Twitter:@lornechan

President O’bama joins Willie Nelson, John Fogerty, “On the Road Again” (Salute the Troops concert)

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

http://www.musictimes.com

President Barrack Obama joined Willie Nelson, John Fogerty, Common and Mary J. Blige onstage at a tribute concert to honor American troops Thursday (November 6). The group collaborated on an amped-up version of Nelson’s “On the Road Again” with the president struggling to sing along.

A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House aired on PBS last night (November 7) and the highlight of the concert came during the final performance of the Red Headed Stranger’s classic 1980 tune, The Huffington Post notes. President Obama introduced Nelson, then informed the audience that the singer asked him to join in on the track. “Willie says I’m going to have to sing with him, so I’ll try it out,” he says in the video below, excellently titled, “yo, what is this.”

The musicianship is spectacular and everyone seems to be enjoying the song, but Obama looks like he hasn’t heard the track in awhile, if at all. He waves his wife, Michelle, onstage to perhaps take some of the heat off him, but that’s difficult to do when you’re the POTUS. Either way, he makes it through the performance, and like the rest of us, he marvels at the talent of Nelson
.
Following the concert, Nelson spoke to CNN about about Obama and marijuana legalization. “I think I realize how he feels about it,” he said. “And I’ve read some of his books and things about when he was a kid, how he maybe had delved into that matter a little bit. I’m sure he’s very understanding of what’s going on and he may be happy to see it happening.”

The performer added that legalization of the drug might help to mellow the nation out a bit. “Well, I really think stress is the cause of a lot of our problems, and I really believe that the best medicine for stress is pot,” he for stress is pot,” he added. “Yeah, I think it would make us get along better all over the world.”

Willie Nelson still going strong, selling out shows

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

ksat

See the video here: (sorry, I can’t figure out how to post it directly)

http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2014/11/05/willie-nelson-still-sells-out-shows-at-81-years-old.html

www.KSAT.com
By

SAN ANTONIO – Willie Nelson has graced country music with countless hits for the last seven decades and at 81-years-old, he can still relate to his audiences.

Nelson sat down with KSAT’s Paul Venema and shared his secrets to staying on top. He sold-out two shows last month at Floore’s Country Store.

“I think I know pretty much what the people like. Probably a little more about what they like than somebody sitting up there in an office somewhere that’s not out there with them.” Neslon said.

There is an obvious love affair between Nelson and his fans, and it’s a bond that Nelson sees as the key to remaining relevant.

When asked how long he is planning on doing this, he said, “All I do is play music and golf. I’m not gonna quit neither one of those.”

Nelson is set release a third album of 2014 next month, following his “Band of Brothers” album, which debuted at No. 1 this summer.

At 81, he said he’s healthy and he has no plans to slow down.

“You have to be a pretty good athlete to do an hour and a half of singing. Singing takes more air than anything,” said Nelson. “But it is also good for you. People come to hear it and they clap and sing along and it’s good for them too.”

Later this month, Nelson will be back in San Antonio at the Majestic Theatre.

He’ll be singing of course, but you can also bet he’ll be listening too.

A wait for Willie Nelson is worth it

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

sheila7a
photo:  Larry Reese

Dallas Morning News
January 17, 1980
by:  Nancy Bishop

Oh, Willie, what we will do to see you.   We’ll fry in the summer heat at one of your picnics.   We’ll endure crowds of people — all kinds, most of them kind, but a few that usually become a little beer-sloshing, quick-tempered drunk and get a little crazy.

We’ll even go to the world’s largest, stuffiest sardine can — the Sportatorium — and sit on splintery seats just for a chance to wait until you play for us.

Tuesday’s concert was even worse for the several hundreds of people who didn’t get inside to see you because Gene McCoslin Productions had somehow sold more tickets to fans than the Dallas fire marshal decided would be a safe number to allow inside.

When 4,216 people had filed in, the wire door was slammed shut on the cluster of angry people who were holding tickets and who wanted a chance to pack in as tightly as audiences have before at other Sportatorium concerts.  People who were promised by the promoters that they could get refunds at the ticket agencies were still visibly disturbed.

Willie Nelson to perform at White House for Veterans (airs on PBS Nov 7)

Friday, October 24th, 2014

PrintLogos020111

http://thehill.com

by Judy Kurtz

Willie Nelson, Mary J. Blige, John Fogerty, Romeo Santos and Common are headed to the White House to perform for American troops.

The eclectic roster of musical acts is gathering on the South Lawn of the president’s abode on Nov. 6, just days before Veterans’ Day, for “A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House.”

A Thursday news release from the White House says a live audience filled with hundreds of military service members, their families and veterans will be in attendance. The band Daughtry, fronted by “American Idol” alum Chris Daughtry, will perform via satellite from a USO concert at Japan’s Yokota Air Base.

It’ll be a repeat visit to the White House for most of the entertainers there.

Common appeared at a 2011 poetry event at the White House which sparked controversy.

Republicans, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former President George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, criticized President Obama for inviting the rapper to the event, saying he had used violent lyrics in reference to the 43rd president and the police.

Willie Nelson famously admitted in 2012 that he rolled a joint on the roof of the White House while visiting during the Carter administration.

Mary J. Blige performed at a state dinner for French President François Hollande back in February. Romeo Santos sang at a Latin music event at the White House last year.

Next month’s concert will air on PBS stations across the country on Nov. 7.