Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

Willie Nelson Elementary

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

by:  Charlotte Carpenter

Willie Nelson, Donald Trump, Harper Lee, and Spike Lee: Those are just a few of the famous names submitted to the Austin Independent School District as suggestions for the re-naming of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

In a controversial move last month, the Austin School Board voted to change the name of the Hyde Park school. Some parents, neighbors and teachers believe the school should not be named after a Confederate general. The conversation about the school’s moniker was reignited after a racially motivated shooting last year in Charleston, South Carolina sparked a national discussion about the significance and impact of Confederate symbols.

The board opened up the naming process, taking suggestions from the public. Donald J. Trump Elementary received the most nominations (45), while Robert E. Lee Elementary received 34 nominations, Russell Lee Elementary received 32 and Harper Lee Elementary received 30.

There were quite a few more non-traditional suggestions.  The board is scheduled to come to a final decision on May 23, and they are not required to settle on any of the names submitted here. You can see the entire list of suggestions here.

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and the Grand Old Party

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

by:  Jack Whyte

Two musical events last week set my thoughts swirling and took me, as usual in such cases, in directions I had no idea I wanted to explore.
The first was the death of country singer Merle Haggard, at the age of 79, and the other was a long-postponed evening taken to watch a month-old recording of the November 2015 award ceremony when Willie Nelson, at 82, became the seventh person to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Two men, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, both achieving front-of-consciousness prominence — for me at least — in the same week, though for vastly different reasons.

Yet old as they may be in terms of years lived, both are destined to remain young forever in the realm of their achievements, individually and collectively.

Each of them took pride in labelling himself an outlaw, though the outlawry they laid claim to was a purely musical distinction.
They were among the founding fraternity of what is now called outlaw music, the group that rebelled in the 1970s against the saccharine sweetness of the stylized, orthodox country music being peddled and promoted by the Grand Ol’ Opry of Nashville.

Repelled by the cloying unctuousness of the Nashville Opry, Willie and Merle threw in their lot with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and others in establishing a new sub-genre of country music.

It was raw and it was raucous and irreverent and profoundly human, and it’s known today as outlaw music.
Out of that association, depending upon who’s telling the story, emerged the phenomenon known today as the Austin City Sound — a far more free-wheeling and gutsy style of country music than the Nashville variety — that proudly traces its roots back to the rockabilly traditions of the 1950s and Elvis Presley.

What endeared these two men, their colleagues and their entire genre of songs to me originally, though, was the fact that they were, and always will be, storytellers in the grand, traditional sense enjoyed by bards and minstrels since the beginning of time.

They and the others of their ilk are, in a very real and very pertinent contemporary sense, the embodiment of the Spirit of America, the seannachies of the American people, the tribal celebrants of the people’s ways, customs and culture.

Their music is everyman’s. It speaks for, and to, the masses of the people on the most basic, communal level, proving that it is no accident that American country music is the most popular style of music in the western world.

It was at that point, thinking along those lines, that I found myself contemplating the differences between everything that we, as Canadians, respect and admire about the United States and its culture, and the ludicrous spectacle that we see every night on our television screens as the dog and pony show of the Republican party candidacy race unfolds.

In growing disbelief, we sit gawking at the news, watching wide-eyed and slack mouthed as the struggle between a blustering, egotistical fascist and a rabid, right-wing religious fundamentalist grows ever more bitter and contentious. And we are collectively appalled — or most of us are — to realize that these cynical, manipulative demagogues are fighting each other for control over the destiny of the American people.

That said, though, we continue to believe, for the protection of our own sanity, that wisdom will prevail in the end; that the current farce will fizzle out and the contestants will be consigned to the midden with all the other inedible orts from history’s table.

But there is no denying that the unbelievable is actually occurring as we watch. Nor is there any doubt that supposedly knowledgeable, analytical minds are taking these events seriously, with people making dire predictions and assumptions about the implosion, perhaps even the disintegration and demise, of Abe Lincoln’s Grand Old Party.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. We all know that, but at this time, on the GOP side at least, there appears to be no means in sight of arranging a rapprochement between the two leading, rutting billygoats.

The chances of containing the egregious damage they are causing to their party, and to their country’s international image, appear to be dwindling ever day, but even if a miracle occurred and the rabies-like symptoms of both front runners were to disappear, where would the leavening influence come from to heal the open rifts already caused?

Could anyone unknown to this point emerge from the wings to spread healing balm across the ruptured Republican spectrum? From where I’m sitting, that doesn’t appear likely.

There are only two of the original musical Outlaws left now, it seems, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. And seriously, I think I’d rather vote for Willie as a representative leader of America than I would for either Trump or Cruz.

Jack Whyte is a Kelowna author of 15 best-selling novels. Email or read more at

Willie Nelson & Family, Jamey Johnson, Ryan Bingham, in Independence, MO, pay respect to Merle Haggard

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016


photo:  Ben Noey, Jr.
by:  Timothy Finn

This show was supposed to celebrate two of country music’s greatest stars, their enduring friendship and their most recent collaboration.

Last June, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard released the album “Django & Jimmie” and shortly after that announced a co-headlining tour that included a stop at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena on Monday night.

In March, however, Haggard announced he would be leaving the tour temporarily to recover from double pneumonia. Haggard died April 6, his 79th birthday, but Nelson continued the tour, enlisting Jamey Johnson and Ryan Bingham as support.

Nearly 5,800 fans filled the arena in Independence. Nelson made little mention of Haggard until the end of his set, when he and his Family Band performed “It’s All Goin’ to Pot,” a track from “Django & Jimmie,” then two Haggard tunes, “Okie From Muskogee” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

Johnson, however, spent most of his set paying respect to Haggard — and he has the perfect voice to do it. He opened with “I Guess I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” “The Fighting Side of Me” and “The Day I Started Loving You Again.”

He was joined by a surprise guest, Lee Ann Womack, for “You Take Me For Granted,” a song written by Haggard’s former wife, Leona Williams, then “Silver Wings” and “Yesterday’s Wine,” a Nelson song that Haggard recorded as a duet with George Jones.

Bingham, who opened the show, also paid tribute to Haggard. His set, which included a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” ended with “Mama Tried,” one of Haggard’s best known and most beloved songs.

Nelson was in good form, vocally and otherwise. His voice was firm and his phrasing under control. His guitar playing was exceptional at times, like during his aggressive lead at the end of “Crazy,” his blues-drenched lead during the cover of “Texas Flood,” performed by his son, Lucas Nelson, and during the sophisticated Django Reinhardt instrumental from “Django & Jimmie.”

The crowd joined in on several songs, including “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again.” Toward the end of the set, Nelson paid respect to Hank Williams with “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” “Hey, Good Lookin’ ” and “Move It On Over.”

After the three-song Haggard tribute, Nelson ended the show with his standard medley: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and “I’ll Fly Away.” This evening, however, it felt more like the perfect closing to an evening proving that the best music has a spirit that is enduring and unbreakable.


Whiskey River; Still Is Still Moving to Me; Beer for My Horses; Good Hearted Woman; Funny How Time Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life; Texas Flood; Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys; Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground; On the Road Again; Always on My Mind; Jambalaya (On the Bayou); Hey, Good Lookin’; Move It On Over; Nuages; Shoeshine Man; Georgia; I’ve Been to Georgia on a Fast Train; It’s All Goin’ to Pot; Okie From Muskogee; Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die; Will the Circle Be Unbroken?/I’ll Fly Away


Willie Nelson & Family in St. Louis (4/2/2016)

Monday, April 11th, 2016

photo:  Jon Gitchoff
by:  Daniel Durchholz

What do you do if you’re a country music lifer and one of your friends and few equals in the field — one that, in fact, you’re supposed to be sharing the stage with right now — suddenly passes away?

You gather your family and friends around you, mourn in your own fashion, and carry on.

That’s what Willie Nelson did Saturday night at the Peabody Opera House downtown. Merle Haggard died last Wednesday, his 79th birthday. The pair had teamed for the recent album “Django and Jimmie” and booked a tour together.

The show went on as scheduled, with singer/songwriters Ryan Bingham and Jamey Johnson hastily added to the bill.

photo:  Jon Gitchoff

On Wednesday, Nelson tweeted a photo of himself with Haggard, captioned, “He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him.”

In concert, Nelson chose to keep any further thoughts on the matter private. He said nothing about Haggard from the stage, nor much of anything else aside from his usual brief song introductions.

But late in the show, he performed “It’s All Goin’ to Pot,” a pro-marijuana duet from “Django and Jimmie,” with Johnson singing Haggard’s part. They followed that with “Okie from Muskogee,” likely Haggard’s best-known hit, which, when it was released in 1969, was a resounding put-down of the drug culture.

The humorous juxtaposition, plus the version of Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” that followed, would not have been lost on Haggard, who always reserved his right to change his mind about things, and often did.

The show ended with Nelson’s standard set closer, a medley of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away.” But on this night, it felt like the songs may have had a little extra meaning and were sung in Haggard’s honor, even if no one specifically said so.

Prior to that, Nelson played his regular show of hits and favorites, including “Whiskey River,” “Good Hearted Woman,” “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “On the Road Again,” and many others.

Nelson’s sister Bobbie, his longtime pianist, was given the spotlight for “Down Yonder,” while his son, guitarist Lukas Nelson, played and sang a blues-drenched cover of “Texas Flood.”

Nelson’s own guitar playing was — as ever — brilliant and unconventional. He can play with great subtlety and emotion, as he did on Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages,” and then rattle off a solo on a fast number that is so right, but so idiosyncratic, you’d swear his famed guitar Trigger was falling down a flight of stairs (which, indeed, it looks like it has).

photo: Jon Gitchoff

The heavy lifting of the Haggard tribute was left to opening acts Johnson and Bingham.

Johnson’s set was filled with Haggard classics, and it showed the singer’s deep understanding and appreciation of Haggard’s expansive artistry, ranging from the hard-headed pragmatism of “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and the testy patriotism of “The Fightin’ Side of Me” to the devastating reminiscence “My Favorite Memory” and blue-collar solidarity of “Workin’ Man Blues.”

Johnson was joined by surprise guest Lee Ann Womack, who left her own tour and drove in for the show at Johnson’s request. She provided what was perhaps the evening’s high-water mark with a tear-inducing take on “You Take Me for Granted,” written for Haggard by his wife at the time, Leona Williams.

She and Johnson also sang “Yesterday’s Wine,” written by Nelson, but a hit for Haggard and George Jones.

The set was so impromptu that Johnson and his band often had to huddle and flip through a songbook to decide what to play next. “We got the Merle bible up here,” Johnson said.

Despite that — or more correctly, given that — the tribute was heartfelt, moving, and perfect.

Ryan Bingham also performed the Haggard songs “Old Man from the Mountain” and “Mama Tried” as well as some of his own material and a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” featuring Lukas Nelson on guitar.

Willie Nelson set list

Whiskey River

Still Is Still Moving to Me

Beer for My Horses

Good Hearted Woman

Funny How Times Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life

Down Yonder

Texas Flood

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground

On the Road Again

Always on My Mind

Me and Paul

Shoeshine Man


I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train


It’s All Goin’ to Pot

Okie from Muskogee

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die

Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away

Jamey Johnson set list

I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink

The Fightin’ Side of Me

That’s the Way Love Goes

You Take Me for Granted

Yesterday’s Wine

Down Every Road

My Favorite Memory

Workin’ Man Blues

Big City

Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star

In Color

Ryan Bingham set list

Old Man from the Mountain

I Ain’t Living Long Like This

Tell My Mother I Miss Her So

Whipping Post

South Side of Heaven

Mama Tried

read article here

Willie Nelson & Family, with Kris Kristofferson in Papillion on June 26, 2016

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

By Kelsey Stewart

SumTur Amphitheater will welcome its biggest name yet this summer.

Willie Nelson will play at the venue June 26 with Kris Kristofferson opening.

“We’re really, really happy about that,” said Doug Huggins, amphitheater manager.

Huggins said they anticipate Nelson to be the most popular mainstream show the amphitheater has gotten to date. The show, Huggins said, will be a good fit for the amphitheater.

“For SumTur, it’s a big deal,” he added. “Listening to Willie Nelson singing outdoors on a beautiful day, I don’t think there could be a better place for it.”

The announcement of Nelson’s show is another in a string of ticketed events to be hosted at the facility. Over the last few years, the amphitheater has seen an increased number of ticketed events offered in conjunction with its free programming.

Last year, the facility hosted eight large ticketed events. This year, Huggins said he’s hoping to offer 10 to 12.

The amphitheater has partnered with two promoters, 1% Productions and Mammoth Productions, to bring ticketed events to the facility.

“We’ve had a relationship with both of those for several years and they’re bringing some very exciting acts,” Huggins said.

Other ticketed acts include Leon Bridges, Brandi Carlile, Matt Nathanson and Phillip Phillips with Eric Hutchinson, Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday, Flogging Molly, and Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers.

“It’s nice being a contender and in a way, a leader in the whole Omaha metro area, in ticketed events,” Huggins said. “The City of Papillion has worked hard to make SumTur a viable entertainment production venue and we’re very happy that we’re considered in the same name as Stir and the Orpheum and the Holland as far as quality entertainment in the heartland.”

Dinner With Willie Nelson: Chef’s Pot Luck @Luck Reunion (Stories and photos by The Simple Sol)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016


It isn’t a secret that I love Willie Nelson and when I got invited to a dinner he was hosting on his iconic Luck, TX ranch outside of Austin it was the perfect excuse to escape after three crazy days of SXSW. It was an intimate gathering and truly a hidden gem tucked away from the downtown hustle and bustle, apparently Adrian Grenier thought so too —  he was sitting across the table from me.  It was also the kick-off for Willie’s one-day music festival, Luck Reunion, held the next day.  Sadly I didn’t get to take part in the festival because I was in Mexico City.


Read the article, and see all the great photos here.

And enjoy the travel culture blog:

Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion Music Festival (March 19, 2016)

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

photos and article by:  Nathan Poppe
by:  Nathan Poppe

It’s not easy to have a good time in Austin, Texas, during South By Southwest.

I’ve gone several times to shoot photos, and I usually end up completely exhausted and waking up just long enough to fall back asleep on a plate of breakfast tacos. It can be fun but the music festival portion of the event feels like work. Maneuvering through mind-numbing traffic, outsmarting thousands of tourists and trying to catch bands gets exceedingly more difficult every time I visit SXSW. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to drive several miles north of the Black Friday level of craziness that is downtown Austin and visit Spicewood, Texas.

Tucked away between hilly country roads, Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion music festival offered a peaceful, mostly successful alternative to SXSW. It’s the sort of festival where the host’s personality is louder than the music. Luck Reunion is on his land after all. In the VIP lounge, I was greeted with a pack of rolling papers and it didn’t seem weird for a second. Nelson’s branded marijuana business followed me on Instagram immediately after I tweeted from the festival. Luck Reunion attracts a very particular and Americana/weed-loving crowd that’s really there for the music more than anything. I’ve never met a friendlier festival crowd. Did I mention that Bill Murray was hanging around the festival, too?

Roughly 4,000 patrons attended the Luck Reunion, which is spread between three modestly-sized stages and somehow never feels crowded. A chapel, revival tent and main stage are only minutes apart from one another and feel like they were planted in an old Western movie set, complete with wooden facades and even a saloon. It didn’t hurt that there were couches and copious amounts of shade from trees to pad the concert experience.

Every set I saw was exceptional and Oklahoma talent had a strong showing with performances from Parker Millsap, John Moreland, John Fullbright, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Horse Thief. I felt a swell of pride hearing people buzz about who they were excited to catch. No less than 10 people were saying they had to hear Moreland’s set.

The only major hiccup came from Mother Nature when a thunderstorm spoiled a few sets, including a secret visit from Kacey Musgraves. Dressing for the weather was impossible Friday. Between the heat of the early afternoon and the wet, chilling storm, no outfit was safe from either sweat, cold or mud.

The sky opened up in the early evening and drenched the festival grounds. Total buzzkill. It was handled well though. Event organizers and security made sure everyone found cover and shooed people away from looting the bars filled with leftover bottles of booze. Instead of cheering for bands, patrons ooh’d and ahh’d at the lightning’s performance.

However, no amount of rain could totally hinder the Luck Reunion experience. Out of boredom and an enthusiasm for performing, many musicians started impromptu sets in barns, houses and even truck trailers. You can’t really put a price on moments that unscripted and unique. Jenny Lewis didn’t need to stay late into the night and play a rescheduled set in a cramped chapel, but she did.

“This is off the cuff, guys,” Lewis said to the crowd with a smile.

Surrounded by bandmates and family, she performed a brief acoustic set unlike anything you could hear at a big festival. Even the Luck Reunion’s merch booth had a personal touch. Each T-shirt was screenprinted in front of buyers and had to cool down before you could wear it.

That’s the mark of a festival that’s about more than bands or organizers scoring a paycheck. It really felt like a community, and I didn’t want to leave. However, the rain closed most of the food trucks, and I needed dinner around midnight. I left before Nelson capped off the festival at the overcrowded, muddy revival tent. The rain had shut down main stage where Nelson was scheduled to play but it was better than it not happening at all.

I left wanting more. I was exhausted again, but for the first time, I couldn’t wait to return to Texas next year. It wasn’t luck that made this festival great. It was hard work and a lineup of musicians that looked to be having just as much fun as the patrons.


This Tennessee-based band was one of the more surprising acts at Luck Reunion. I had no expectations when their set began, and I wanted to join the couple dancing throughout the crowd when it ended.


photo:  Nathan Poppe

I’m late to the RWH party but I thought his set was hilarious and fun. The Soper native, 69, spent most of his formative years in Texas but Oklahoma should be proud to claim him, too. Check out the song “Snake Farm” and try not to sing along.

Read rest of article and review here.  

Luck Reunion 2016

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

photo:  Gary Miller
by: Doug Freeman

When the official word came to shut down all performances and for the crowd to take immediate shelter, everything moved incredibly quickly in Willie Nelson’s fake movie-set town of Luck. The imminent storm, however, did not.

At about 5:20pm Friday evening, crew and officials took to the stages to warn everyone that a major storm was bearing down on the Luck Reunion and would hit in approximately 10 minutes. Located 30 miles outside of Austin on Nelson’s Spicewood ranch, the makeshift western town had provided an idyllic and surreal setting for what has become one of the best non-affiliated events during SXSW. Nonetheless, the charm of the old storefronts and barns offered little in the way of security from a major storm, and as the skies darkened, thoughts turned to the town’s 2014 destruction by tornado force winds.

Those that didn’t take to their cars or the buses and depart huddled under what cover they could find, but as stages were covered and vendors quickly broke down, the storm only continued to linger on the horizon in ominous lighting flashes. For three hours, nothing moved in Luck.

Undaunted by the storm, which only swept in briefly and with little effect, those that remained were rewarded with a memorable night. Canadians Alberta Cross, their main stage set pulled shortly after starting, unpacked their instruments in the Beer Garden’s barn and played an impromptu show. They were followed by the Black Lillies, who earlier in the afternoon had scorched the main stage with a rootsy soul. Artists and fans packed in tightly and carried on acoustic sing-alongs as the rain showered against the tin roofs.

Likewise, after two hours on hold, Lissie emerged in the Revival Tent, where more fans sheltered. In the dark, the songwriter delivered an intimate, unplugged performance far removed from the pop swell of her most recent album, My Wild West.

When the all-clear was finally given around 9pm, the main stage was permanently shut down, and set schedules in disarray. Jenny Lewis convened in the tiny chapel that held no more than 75 fans, and the Revival Tent swelled for a fantastic, quick run of songs from Joe Pug, Margot Price, and Parker Millsap.

Billy Joe Shaver closed out the night in the chapel as fans packed up against the windows outside, and Nelson proved characteristically undeterred as he shifted his headlining set to the Revival Tent to close a chaotic day in memorable fashion.

Nelson’s Luck Reunion, re-branding the Heartbreaker Banquet and now in its fifth year, remains an exceptional and unique event despite this year’s havoc. Performances earlier in the afternoon proved memorable, including an intimate songwriter swap that closed with Jonny Fritz, Andrew Combs, Robert Ellis, Sam Outlaw, and T. Hardy Morris covering Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You.”

East Nashville’s Aaron Lee Tasjan perfectly set up Ray Wylie Hubbard in the Revival Tent for a shot of blistering blues, and Canadian songwriter Daniel Romano commenced the chapel performances with his nasally Dylan-esque twang. On the main stage, Oklahoma quintet Horse Thief rang with a melodic, My Morning Jacket reverb and psych roots, and Little Rock, AK., fivepiece Amasa Hines broiled funk and reggae-inflected grooving jams.

John Fullbright conquered the afternoon best before the storm set in, delivering a powerhouse set of older cuts “Jericho,” “Satan and St. Paul,” and “Gawd Above.”

The storm may have gutted the lineup – canceling Blitzen Trapper, Lucius, and expected special guest Kacey Musgraves – but it couldn’t impede the event’s heart.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

New album from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, “Something Real” (Review)

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

by: Sarah Bourque

The new album, Something Real, by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real dropped on March 11th. It showcases the “cowboy hippie surf rock” style that is interlaced around each track. The band combines the talents of Lukas Nelson on guitar and vocals, Anthony LoGerto on drums, Corey McCormick on bass, and Tato Melgar on percussion. Something Real is a tight mix of melodies that breach the edges of blues, Americana, and country styles to form a flow of tracks that beg to be played again and again.

Diving right in, “Surprise” takes listeners on a whirlwind of emotions as the energy within the song rises, bringing depth to the tune. This well placed opener sets the mood for what’s to come by grabbing your attention immediately. “Something Real” is full of crunchy guitar, pounding drums and a get up and dance your ass off vibe.

An unhurried “Set Me Down On A Cloud” is thick with energy that hits deep into one’s soul. The passion felt throughout invites the listener to turn up the volume. “Don’t Want to Fly” combines a solid rock and blues experience that ends in a teasing jam that slowly fades out. Don’t be surprised if this one fuses into an extended jam session during a live performance.

Ugly Color” breathes, and provides calm spaces in between the notes, for the duration of this chilled out, laid back song that’s perfect to listen to with the top down on a warm summer day. “I’ll Make Love to You Any Ol’ Time” is simply a good ol’ rock and roll tune with ass-kicking guitar and red-hot vocals. Switching gears, “Georgia” is a gentle tune filled with fluid lyrics that tug at the heart strings.

Shredding guitar chords roll through the first half of “Everything is Fake,” before finishing with tender tones. The album’s final track, “San Francisco,” features Neil Young on guest vocals. This powerful tune brings a fitting end to the album, as it provides a throwback to the seventies without losing the essence of being in the present. Overall, Something Real is a fluid album that features well structured melodies and tightly composed notes.

For further information regarding Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and their new album, please check out their official website. (It’s highly recommended you click on the Band link to read about the members. A good laugh is guaranteed).

Key Tracks: Surprise, Set Me Down on A cloud, Ugly Color

Check out Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real as they perform their title track, “Something Real,” on the Conan O’Brien show:

Willie Nelson’s “Summertime” tribute to Gershwin Brothers tops Billboard Jazz Chart

Thursday, March 17th, 2016
by: Lindi Smith

Willie Nelson has added another number one album to his list of musical achievements with his latest release, a Gershwin Tribute album aptly titled Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. Nelson’s latest record topped the jazz charts after its release on Feb. 26.

Being honored with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Nov. 2015 inspired Nelson to create an album of Gershwin hit songs. Since announcing the album’s upcoming release in Jan., Nelson has expressed his great admiration for Ira and George Gershwin.

When receiving the award, Nelson said, “To get a Gershwin award for anything is great, but to get one for songwriting is especially great because Ira and George Gershwin were just fantastic writers.” He continued to express his adoration of their timeless creations by saying, “… they’ll be around forever because great music like that just does not go away.”

We have a feeling that people will say the same thing about Nelson’s music for a long time to come.

The album features a couple of Nelson’s friends lending their voices. Cyndi Lauper is featured on “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and Sheryl Crow joins him on “Embraceable You.” You’ll find other classics on the record like “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Summertime” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”

Congratulations, Willie!

Willie Nelson at Spotify sxsw (3/13/2016)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
by:  Laura Hostelley

Willie Nelson calls Austin, Texas home, but his appearance at the popup Spotify House venue at SXSW 2016 on Sunday night (March 13) was unplanned — and a huge surprise for the crowd.

Nelson stopped by the East Austin venue Sunday night to perform a full set from his impressive catalogue of classic country hits alongside his band. The show came just one day after his annual performance during the opening night concert at Rodeo Austin.

Now with two shows down, the 82-year-old country star still has one more performance to go. His biggest event of the week will be this Friday — at his very own house party.

Nelson will open his home Luck Ranch in Spicewood to gather some very talented musicians, including Jack Ingram, for the Luck Reunion. This year’s show marks its 30th anniversary and hopes to “cultivate and celebrate the evolution of our American roots,” according to the event’s website. The show will benefit community non-profit partners Wholesome Wave, Reverb, HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) and SIMS Foundation.

Nelson isn’t the only country star passing through the Spotify House during this year’s festival. Fellow Texas natives Kacey Musgraves and Maren Morris — as well as country newcomers Lanco — will all be playing at the same spot on Wednesday (March 16) afternoon.

Nelson recently released a Gershwin tribute album, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. The project features covers, such as the popular song “Summertime,” and includes duets with fellow stars Sheryl Crow and Cyndi Lauper.

Brought to you by Mazda, presenting sponsor of Hype Hotel at SXSW. #MazdaSXSW #HypeON.

Read article here.


“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” #1 Billboard Jazz Chart

Friday, March 11th, 2016

by:  Will Hermes

Willie Nelson may be the king of outlaw country, but the LP that made him a household name was Stardust, his quintuple-platinum 1978 set of old-school pop standards like “Georgia On My Mind,” “All Of Me,” and “Blue Skies.” Blue-jeaned badasses might’ve sneered that their Whiskey River-running hero had gone soft. But it was a revelatory set, connecting Red Headed Stranger’s roughneck conceptualist to the prodigy traditionalist who wrote Patsy Cline’s 1962 hit “Crazy,” and then outwards to phrase-parsing croon scientists like Sinatra and master musicians like Nelson’s beloved Bob Wills, who gave precious few fucks when it came to genre borders. The songs were unfade-able, the arrangements unconventional, Nelson’s readings unsentimental and, to a one, killing.

The theme here, a return to Stardust’s approach, seems to have chosen itself in the wake of Willie receiving the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2015. Yes, his voice is more fragile than it was 38 years ago, the vibrato a less tightly reined. But it remains vivid and well-matched to the material. On the title track and elsewhere, Mickey Raphael echoes Willie’s breathy tremors on harmonica. And it’s not all ballads: Paul Franklin swings the pedal steel on “Somebody Loves Me” (a hit for Canadian choirboys The Four Lads in 1952), with Willie skipping along. Cyndi Lauper, with a country set of her own due this year, brings her best Betty Boop to a fairly adorable version of “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” while Willie saunters through “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” serenading the way his lover sings off-key with a wink.

But the torch songs are the thing. He brings tender dignity to the loneliness of “Someone To Watch Over Me” as a “little lamb who’s lost in the woods.” And he plays leading man on “Embraceable You” beside Sheryl Crow, who convincingly conjures Doris Day while Willie invites her to “come to Poppa” with absolute stoner elegance. The harmonies may be a bit wobbly, but they’re more charming for it. At 82, the man has been banging out an album or two of new recordings every year for a while now, all of them remarkably worthy additions to his catalog. It’s a work ethic his fellow cannabis advocates, and indeed all Americans, can be proud of.

Music of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn honored by Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

by:  Vincent Harris

For the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s fourth Pops show of the 2015-16 season, they’ve decided it’s time to give the Gaillard Center a good-ole down-home feeling. After saluting Latin music, Louis Armstrong, and holiday classics, the CSO is going country with a special Country Legends concert, saluting the icons of country music, along with a few surprising choices — ack, Billy Ray Cyrus.

The entire affair will kick off with the theme from the legendary Western The Magnificent Seven, courtesy of the 24-piece CSO, under the direction of Maestro Ken Lam. After that, Lam and company will take the audience on a guided tour of country music history, from Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin'” and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Faith Hill’s “Breathe.” Along the way there will also be songs by Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, John Denver, and, the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers.

“We’re trying to provide a show that’s got a little bit of something for everybody,” says the CSO Artistic Director Kyle Lane. “We have a very robust classical audience that likes to come see the orchestra do the works of Mozart or programs like that, but for the Pops we kind of have a different audience.”

For this show, the orchestra will be joined by two featured vocalists: Patrick Thomas and Rachel Potter. Thomas was a finalist on Season 1 of NBC’s The Voice, and Potter was a finalist on Season 3 of Fox’s The X Factor.

“They’re both really talented singers who specialize in country music,” Lane says. “We’re excited to bring them in, and along with the orchestra, they’re going to play some of the great country classics in pretty chronological order, which I didn’t realize until I started looking at the tunes. It starts out with the artists you’d think of as classic country, Dolly Parton and artists like that, and marches forward to today with artists like Carrie Underwood.”

Rather than simply have the orchestra serve as background accompaniment to Thomas and Potter, however, Lane says the CSO has sought out ways to be an integral part of the show. “For a lot of these songs, we’ve found a way to weave the orchestra into them,” he says. “For example, on Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia,’ our concert-master is going to play the violin solos. That’s one of the easier ways we figured out, but there will be some creative arrangements with things like ‘Breathe.’ We’re mixing the classical and country styles to deliver something that’s a little more unique.”


Happy 180th Birthday, Texas – Dave Thomas names 180 things he loves about Texas (Willie Nelson #1)

Monday, March 7th, 2016

by:  Dave Thomas
March 2, 2016

It’s Texas Independence Day. That’s right, Texas’ 180th birthday. What did you get her? Aw, you haven’t done any shopping yet? OK. You can join in on my gift: 180 things we love about Texas.

And it’s not easy coming up with 180 things. I mean, sure, I once rode from San Angelo to Terlingua in a van full of armadillos driven by a guy named Jalapeno Sam. And I’ve eaten barbecue from Silsbee to El Paso. And I once was in Eden and Utopia on the same day. Heck, that picture up there? That wasn’t even staged. My garage looks like that all the time. I just added the candles. (OK, that’s not true. But my wife wouldn’t argue.) I’m a pretty Texas feller. But 180 things is a lot to think up.

Thankfully, my coworkers and Facebook friends pitched in and we got there. Please, take your hat off, ease on back and enjoy.


1. Willie Nelson.

2. Real barbecue. Spelled with a “c,” of course, because the c stands for “cow.”

3. Wide open spaces and lonely roads.

4. Big skies. I’m a bigger fan of majestic than menacing.

5. An awesome diversity of people (which leads to an awesome diversity of food, music and culture).

6. Bluebonnets! Bluebonnets everywhere!

7. Tacos from Austin. (Ha! We’re just kidding. We’ll take a taco from anywheres south of Oklahoma.)

8. Shiner Beer. The only Texas beer you could buy before Prohibition that’s still made at its original brewery.

9. That spot on Highway 87 east of Eden (really) where West Texas just kinda appears.

Read Dave Thomas’ other 170 reasons here.

Willie Nelson & Family in Naples, FL Tonight Postponed (3/6/2016)

Sunday, March 6th, 2016



Willie Nelson is ill, and his show scheduled tonight in Naples, Florida, has been postponed.  They have not set a new date yet.  Contact the venue for more information at (239) 597-1900.

No further shows have been re-scheduled.  Keep up on Willie Nelson’s tour at his website: