Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

“Thank you, San Antonio” — Willie Nelson

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Willie Nelson & Family at the San Antonio Rodeo (Feb. 16, 2017)

Saturday, February 18th, 2017
by:  Peter Blackstock

“I woke up still not dead again today,” Willie Nelson confirmed to a sold-out crowd at San Antonio’s AT&T Center on Thursday night. And like the best of what he has always offered in his life, he said it in song.

“Still Not Dead,” a song Nelson wrote recently to address the occasional “greatly exaggerated” reports of his demise that routinely surface on the internet, will be featured on his new album “God’s Problem Child, due out April 28.  On this night, it was the perfect song for the occasion, as some concerns had arisen after Nelson canceled several dates in the in the Southwest last week.

That came after some January shows were called off because Nelson reportedly had a cold. With Willie soon to turn 84, it’s natural for his fans to be a little concerned for his health.

Thus Thursday’s performance, on the eighth night of the 18-day San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, was a welcome affirmation that Nelson doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere anytime soon. Quite the contrary, in fact: Between us, my guest last night and I have seen Nelson perform dozens of times, stretching back to the 1980s, and we concurred afterward that we’d rarely heard him do a better show.

Sure, some of it was the same comfortable Willie as always: The signature “Whiskey River” guitar-strum opening, the medleys of his most-covered classics and of gospel favorites, the callouts for the crowd to sing along on songs played for his departed compadre Waylon Jennings. If you needed to know that Willie is still his grand old self, everything was there — including his ever-reliable family band, with sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, the English brothers Paul and Billy on percussion and drums, relative newcomer Kevin Smith on upright bass, and harmonica ace Mickey Raphael at his side.


But there were special treats.  In addition to the aforementioned “Still Not Dead” providing a sneak peek at the upcoming record, Willie also dug way back to his earliest days for “Family Bible,” a song he doesn’t often pull out onstage. And while “Georgia on My Mind” is a staple of almost every Willie set, his sly “speaking of Georgia” segue into Billy Joe Shaver’s “Georgia on a Fast Train” was a less common detour.

Even when Willie had played for more than an hour to the delight of everyone in the full house, he seemed eager to keep going just a little longer. About this time, my trusty ballpoint ran out of ink, leaving empty indents on my notepad. Yes, Willie outlived my pen; I’ll take that as a good sign.

“Y’all got time for another one before we go?” Willie asked, to a chorus of enthusiastic cheers. He then rattled off not one but three more tunes, including the perfect closer for the locale: Bob Wills’ classic “Home in San Antone.” Austin will always be ground zero of Willie’s world, but on this night, as he sang out “I’ve still got my home in San Antone,” around 18,000 of his fans testified that indeed, he does.

On his bus before the concert, Nelson did an interview for NBC’s “The Today Show” with correspondent Jenna Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush. No air date for the interview is set yet, according to Nelson’s publicist, Elaine Schock. Nelson’s next Austin-area appearance is his annual Luck Reunion at his ranch west of town on March 16, in the midst of South by Southwest.

Set list:

  • 1. Whiskey River
  • 2. Still Is Still Moving to Me
  • 3. Beer for My Horses
  • 4. Good Hearted Woman
  • 5. Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
  • 6. Funny How Time Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life medley
  • 7. Down Yonder
  • 8. Me & Paul
  • 9. If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time
  • 10. Georgia on My Mind
  • 11. Georgia on a Fast Train
  • 12. Shoeshine Man
  • 13. Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
  • 14. On the Road Again
  • 15. Always on My Mind
  • 16. It’s All Going to Pot
  • 17. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
  • 18. Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away medley
  • 19. Still Not Dead
  • 20. Family Bible
  • 21. The Party’s Over
  • 22. Home in San Antone

Willie Nelson Rocks the Rodeo (San Antonio, Feb. 16, 2017)

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

photo:  Jaime Monzon
by:  Chris Conde

The famous outlaw country singer and songwriter Willie Nelson, who won a Grammy over the weekend, was scheduled to play in less than 20 minutes. Before taking the stage, though, the audience got a taste of some good ‘ol fashion competitive rodeo events like calf roping, bull riding (basically, I’m trying to marry a bull rider now) and barrel racing. It’s certainly not the Texas I’m used to, but I wore some cowboy boots, so I wasn’t feeling too out of place.

After the events, (seriously bull riders, holla) all the animals were put away, a big stage was rolled out onto the dirt, and Willie Nelson stepped up.

The audience in the AT&T Center cheered loudly as Willie, donning his two waist-long braids, a cowboy hat and famous beat up guitar, dive right into his fan favorites. Several times through the night, he stopped to let the audience sing the lyrics, smile and say “I hear ya’ out there San Antonio”, before strumming back into the tune.

Suddenly, after finishing one song, Willie belted out the start to his classic hit “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” — which brought a healthy chunk of the AT&T Center crowd to their feet to cheer. Then a bunch in the rodeo crowd raised and waived their cowboy hats to the 83 year old legend — like a real cowboy “thank you.”


Epic Night with Willie Nelson & Family at San Antonio Rodeo (Feb. 16, 2017)

Friday, February 17th, 2017

EPIC night with Willie Nelson at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The energy in the AT&T Center was through the roof!! #sarodeo

Snoop Dogg Tweets about Willie Nelson

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
by: Dave Thomas

Even as he prepares to release a new album, wins awards for his last one, and continues to tour, Austin legend Willie Nelson hasn’t been feeling well this year, canceling shows because of health issues.

Willie, who extols the power of positivity, hasn’t said anything publicly about his health, but even the most optimistic people could always use a kind word from a friend.

Good thing Snoop Dogg has Willie’s back.

In a tweet on Saturday, the West Coast rapper showed his respect for the Texas icon’s continued mastery of dominoes and, you guessed it, herbal pursuits …

It’s good having friends. Let’s hope Willie is feeling like his old self again soon.

friends. Let’s hope Willie is feeling like his old self again soon.


U got a problem wit Willie then u got a problem wit me  —  Snoop Dogg

Willie Nelson back in action

Monday, February 13th, 2017
by: Cloe Melas

The country singer’s publicist told CNN on Monday that Nelson will be performing as scheduled at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo on February 16, after several canceled concerts.

The “Always On My Mind” singer called off shows in Las Vegas and California in late January and last week due to undisclosed health issues.

Nelson’s publicist said it was “just a cold.”

Though he did not attend the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, Nelson won the award for best traditional pop vocal album for “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.”

The 83-year-old’s concert on Thursday will kick off “Willie Nelson & Family Tour,” which includes 27 upcoming dates.

Willie Nelson & Family Shows at Crystal Palace postponed

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
Gary Miller/Getty Images
Willie Nelson has postponed three California shows because of illness.

Publicist Elaine Schock tells The Associated Press that Nelson will have to miss his three-night stint that had been scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield.

Schock gave no details on Nelson’s sickness, but she says he plans to be back on the road again for a Feb. 16 concert at a San Antonio rodeo.


Willie: A memoir as straight forward as his songs

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

[Thanks again to Phil Weisman, for sending me this newspaper clipping/review.  The Chicago Sun-Times gave over 1/2 page to the photo and review.]

Chicago Sun Times
Sunday, November 6, 1988
by: Don McLeese

An Autobiography
Willie Nelson and Bud Shrake

With his autobiography, Willie Nelson not only gets the chance to set the record straight, he offers the same opportunity to his ex-wives.  Take, for example, the fabled incident from his first marriage in which his wife was so upset at finding him drunk again that she sewed him up between two bed sheets and proceeded to whack him out of his stupor with a broom handle.

Ridiculous, says Martha Jewel Mathews, who became Willie’s first wife when she was just 16.  “How dumb could I have to be to try to sew Willie into a bed sheet?” she asks in one of the book’s “Chorus” sections, which allow many of those who share Nelson’s life to give their side of the story.  “You know how long that would take to sit there and take stitch after stitch?”

“The truth is, I tied him up with the kids’ jumping ropes before I beat the hell out of him.”

Written with Bud Shrake (a former writer with Sports Illustrated and Nelson’s collaborator on the “Songwriter” film), Willie is not one of those show-biz sagas that is designed to reinforce an image, to celebrate the myth while sanitizing the man.  Neither is it a titilatting “tell-all” account, using scandal to boost sales.  As straightforward in its honesty as the best of Nelsons songs, the book offers a matter-of-fact, refreshingly frank account of how Willie Nelson came to be what he is, and how he feels about what he has become.

What he is, although he’s too modest in Willie to make the claim himself, is the greatest artist that country music has known since the late Hank Williams.  He’s also something of a sagebrush mystic, a believer in “reincarnation and the laws of Karma,” an environmentalist, an avid golfer, a long-distance jogger, a guy who gets along great with women until he marries them, and a firm believer in the medicinal powers of marijuana.

As an account of this life (Nelson apparently doesn’t remember much from previous incarnations), Willie doesn’t adhere to strict chronology, but most of the pertinent facts are here.  It relates his musical beginnings as a cotton-picking, mud-eating child who played guitar at 6, considered himself a “serious songwriter” at 8 and was a veteran at 11 of the polka-band circuit in small town Texas.

It shows his emergency as a hit songwriter, though his early efforts often proved more lucrative for others than they were for Nelson himself.  He sold all rights to “Night Life,” which has since been recorded by more than 70 artists, for $150.  “At the time he needed the money,” he explains, and the fact that the song was a hit “encouraged me to think I could write a lot more songs that were just as good.”

The country music establishment in Nashville never came to terms with Nelson’s artistry.  Though his “Crazy” was a smash for Patsy Cline, and “Hello Walls” did as well for Faron Young.  Nelson’s music had a sophistication beyond three chords, and his singing was too down-home conversational.  Eventually, Nelson returned to Texas, where he was branded an “outlaw” for following his own best instincts.

He has since progressed from barroom stages to stadium concerts, and now travels on his own Learjet, as well as by bus, while continuing to follow his own instincts.  The mythic “Red Headed Stranger”, a musical fable about frontier justice, was an unlikely candidate for mainstream acceptance, but it gave Nelson his popular breakthrough.  His record company advised against his “Stardust” collection of standards, and it won him a larger audience than ever.

In addition to offering plenty of advice beyond the usual bromides for those bent on a musical career, the autobiography documents the spiritual development of the man known to much of Texas as “Saint Willie.”  An inspiring as his progression from honky-tonk hotheadedness to metaphysical bliss may be there’s no question that Nelson’s contentment has cost him some musical creativity.

He admits that he writes from need, from hunger, and he maintains that for him to return to writing a “sad, negative song” would be bad karma.  Leaving songs of whiskey-drenched heartbreak behind, he finds it easier to record duets with the likes of Julio Iglesias.

The “Chorus” sections provide a more rounded portrait of the artist than most autobiographies offer, but the book would be even better balanced if it featured someone who isn’t just wild about Willie.  (His third wife, from whom Nelson is estranged, isn’t included within the interviews.  However as furious they might once have been at him, his ex-wives remain fond of Nelson; his friends from the scuffling days are still his friends; his band and business associates are unwaveringly loyal.

Even a man whose wife ran away with Nelson (to become the second Mrs. Nelson) proclaims that “IF there’s any man I’d like to run off with my wife, it would be WIllie Nelson.”



“Seven Spanish Angels” — new Austin beer, with nod to Willie Nelson

Friday, January 27th, 2017

photo:  Bob Tilden
by:  Brad Jackson

If there is one person who embodies Texas as a spirit, a people, a nation, it’s Willie Nelson. The man is literally a living legend. It doesn’t matter who you are, politician, celebrity, average Joe—when you’re in the presence of Willie, when you get a chance to see him perform, it’s amazing.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Willie Nelson perform many times, most recently with The Federalist’s own Ben Domenech at last year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. That day Willie was joined on stage by a dozen people, including other musicians who were performing at the festival, his family, and the man who serves as his unofficial sidekick, the man who introduced him to the tens of thousands of people in the crowd, Matthew McConaughey.

The musicians who joined Willie on stage, including Margo Price and Nathaniel Rateliff, sang along on several songs. He went well past his allotted time singing encore after encore, but no one stopped him, because he’s Willie. It was an incredible show!

One of Willie’s best songs is a duet with another music legend, the one and only Ray Charles. “Seven Spanish Angels” is a classic the duo first recorded in the 1980s. An old-school country ballad, the song tells the story of bandits trying to evade the law. The couple is on the run in Mexico and in a last-stand gunfight they know they can’t win. Instead of being taken back to Texas, they go down in a blaze of glory. As Willie and Ray Charles tell it:

There were seven Spanish angels
At the altar of the sun
They were prayin’ for the lovers
In the valley of the gun
When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared
There was thunder from the throne
And seven Spanish angels
Took another angel home

It’s one of the saddest country songs you’ve ever heard, and the two music legends sing it so well. It’s a song that deserves a toast to the lovers brave enough to go down guns blazing, to be together forever “at the altar of the sun,” and thanks to Brazos Valley Brewing Company, there is the perfect beer to do that: Seven Spanish Angels Coffee Ale.

I’ve talked about coffee beers before, but what makes this one different is the base it is built upon. Most coffee beers are porters or stouts, but this one is a brown ale. The brewery worked with Independence Coffee Company to combine their cold-brewed pecan coffee with this “bitchin’ brown ale” to create a coffee ale that is lighter, brighter, and easier to drink than most coffee beers. It’s cold-brew coffee and beer, not a heavy beer with coffee, and I like it a lot. Shiner also has a beer out right now that incorporates cold-brew coffee, but this one is better.

Brazos Valley Brewing Company is from Brenham, Texas. You may know Brenham as the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream. If you don’t have Blue Bell in your local grocery store, I weep for you. It is some of the best ice cream on God’s green earth, and that comes from someone who used to manage an ice cream store (of another brand) in high school.

I made ice cream every day, and I never made any as good as Blue Bell’s. Their cookie dough ice cream is the best you’ll find, and Brenham is their home. It’s a little town between College Station and Houston, in Southeast Texas. A small but growing community of salt of the earth people, they know their ice cream and their beer.

Brazos Valley Brewing doesn’t only make good beer, they make beautiful beer cans. The artwork on the Seven Spanish Angels beer is amazing. It depicts a woman with long hair, feather earrings, and a green checked shirt holding a rifle, ready for a showdown. It’s easy to phone it in with some boring Bud- or Coors-style artwork on a beer can or bottle label these days, but with Seven Spanish Angels, Brazos Valley Brewing doesn’t just give you a beer you can enjoy drinking, it also gives you a can that is so pretty it’s a shame to put it in a koozie.

As you listen to Nelson sing the sad tale of lovers who rose to “the altar of the sun,” raise a can of Seven Spanish Angels to salute one of America’s greatest musicians with a sip of some great Texas beer. Cheers!

Does Willie Have a Dream?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Willie Nelson and Family in New Orleans (Jan. 8, 2017) (Sold Out)

Monday, January 9th, 2017

photo:  Chris Granger

Willie Nelson enchants a sold-out New Orleans crowd Sunday
by: Chelsea Brasted

Just before showtime at the House of Blues in New Orleans on Sunday (Jan. 8), white lights came on at stage left as an 83-year-old man with long braided pigtails and a black, long-sleeved puffer jacket was escorted to a seat just in the wings.

He folded his legs over each other and waited patiently as the crew made final adjustments until, slowly, he stood and his jacket was removed. Music started, and the man found his way to the guitar at centerstage.

With hands as mottled and as marked by time finally on the near-mythical instrument he calls Trigger, Willie Nelson came to life.

For just a little more than an hour, Nelson smiled and sang and strummed that guitar with the kind of loving comfort that can only come with decades of familiarity. The songs, too, were familiar to the jovial, honky tonk-like, sold-out crowd of chattering, beer-raising fans who lent help as a motley chorus.

photo:  Chris Granger

With a life spent writing, pioneering and playing music, Nelson’s appeal is as much about his role as a country music patriarch as it is about the novelty of seeing the charismatic, reefer mad octogenarian friend of Snoop Dogg. Just weeks ago, Dolly Parton, who reigns as the charming queen of country came to New Orleans for a stop at the Smoothie King Center, where she held court for more than two hours, telling stories and swapping bedazzled instruments in and out of her hands.

Not so with Nelson.

From the moment he wrapped his red, white and blue macrame guitar strap around his frame, Nelson didn’t bother with the stories. He instead let his music do the talking, and he and Trigger offered one blues-tinged solo after another, filling the space between “Whiskey River” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Nelson was joined in the effort by his touring band, known as the Family: Bobbie Nelson, Paul English, Billy English, Kevin Smith and harmonica player Mickey Raphael, who performed in New Orleans at in May 2016 as part of Chris Stapleton’s band.

Nelson eventually traded his bent-rim cowboy hat for the first of several red bandanas, each folded identically in a stack near his hip. He’d slip one over his braids, then tear it off after mere moments to toss to the first row or two with a smile and a blown kiss.

From the moment they set foot onstage, Nelson and his Family barely stopped, allowing nearly ever song to melt into the next. With Nelson leading charge with what’s now his nearly speaking-voice way of singing, they strolled into “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time,” Waylon Jennings’ “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” and Billy Joe Shaver’s “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train.” Fans hollered and clapped and cheered and occasionally held the final vowel on Nelson’s first name as they did so, leaving him to smile some more.

In a fit-for-TV finale, Nelson welcomed openers Runaway June to add their harmonies to “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and the closing lines of “I’ll Fly Away,” which is exactly what he did.

Nelson placed Trigger back in its space, gave his final waves, blew kisses and threw bandanas before finding his way back to the darkness of the wings, to the warmth of his jacket and the satisfaction of a show well played.

See more of Chris Granger’s great photos here.

Willie Nelson Wows at War Memorial, in Nashville (Jan 7, 2017)

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

photo:  Andrew Nelles
by: Juli Thanki

Only Willie Nelson could announce “This is a gospel song for y’all,” then start singing “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

For most of his 83 years, the fiercely independent Nelson has done things his way, and there’s certainly no reason to stop now.

For 75 minutes on Saturday night, the legendary country singer, who has penned some of the most enduring songs in American music history, delivered one classic after another in rapid succession onstage at the War Memorial Auditorium: “Angel Flying to Close to the Ground” followed by “On the Road Again” and “Crazy” followed by “Night Life.”

The Red Headed Stranger wasn’t much for onstage banter. When he did talk, it was short and straightforward. Introducing drummer Paul English, Nelson explained, “I wrote a song about me and Paul. I called it ‘Me and Paul.’ “

Throughout the set, Nelson  and his band the Family (which included sister Bobbie Nelson and longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael) saluted his friends, the late Waylon Jennings (“Good Hearted Woman”) and Merle Haggard (“It’s All Going to Pot”), as well as his heroes. He expertly covered Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages,” and delivered a toe-tapping Hank Williams medley that included “Move It on Over,” “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Jambalaya.”

His creased and crinkled hands can still coax remarkable solos from his trusty guitar Trigger. The audience, which seemed to range in age from 18 to 80, cheered every guitar solo, hooted when he flung away his black cowboy hat and traded it for his trademark red bandanna, and sang along to every word of his set. Nelson will turn 84 this year, and even though he’s slowed down a bit over the years, few performers can captivate a crowd like he does.


See more great photos at the Tennessean web site here.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real in Jackson, WY

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

photo:  Stephen Poole
by:  Sarah Gianelli

Band plays Big Sky Resort Jan. 27

JACKSON, Wyo. – Country rockers Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real had an audience of 500 out of their seats and getting down before the end of their first song, turning Jackson’s civilized Center for the Arts into a rowdy cowboy bar for the duration of their Dec. 29 performance.

They’re scheduled to bring that high energy to Big Sky Resort’s Montana Jack on Friday, Jan. 27.

The band set the tone for the night in Jackson by opening with three new rocking tracks from a yet to be titled album, scheduled for release in May 2017.

The second song, a rollicking tale called “Running Shine,” tells the story of father and son moonshiners that Nelson loosely relates to his own upbringing with father Willie Nelson.

“I’m not ‘running shine,’” he said in an interview before the show, “but I’ve immersed myself in a business that is kind of a family business; it’s kind of a circus, and my dad’s not exactly the most law abiding citizen.”

Not only did Nelson inherit a bit of his father’s rapscallion ways, iconic nasal twang and innate musicality, but also his mastery of showmanship.

Nelson and his band mates, drummer Anthony LoGerfo and bassist Corey McCormick, have no trouble filling the stage with their presence. Whether Nelson is head-banging his shaggy ‘do, picking his guitar with his teeth or doing scissor kick calisthenics with McCormick—somewhat of an athletic feat in scuffed up cowboy boots—they’re as visually engaging as they are audibly.

They’re also attuned to the fact that their audience wants to be taken for a ride, and Nelson and POTR know precisely when to bring it down a notch and insert one of Nelson’s soul-slaying ballads—especially hard-hitting for the ladies in the crowd.

Two such highlights during the Jackson show were the heart-wrenching “Sound of your Memory” and a cover of his father’s “Crazy.” The latter offered a rare chance to see Nelson take a seat at a Steinway piano and perform a duet with captivating show-opener Nicki Bluhm that, with all due respect, put Willie and Emmy Lou Harris’s version to shame.

The evening covered all the bases and hit all the right notes—from a dusty hoe-down, to sultry blues, bare bone jams, good old rock ‘n’ roll, soulful love songs and the perfectly picked and placed cover. On this night it was none other than Paul Simon’s “Graceland” hit, “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.”

Shannon McCormick, programming director for Jackson’s Center for the Arts, has been booking Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real for nearly a decade, and had no doubt the band would generate a sold out show.

“Every once in a while, it’s great to have a band come in here and punch us in the nose,” McCormick said. “Jackson loves that rootsy rock ‘n’ roll and that’s what Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real delivers.”

McCormick is such a fan that he’s road-tripping from Jackson to Big Sky to catch the Jan. 27 show at Montana Jack.

“That’s how excited I am about these guys,” McCormick said. “Get ready for a fun show because here it comes.”

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real perform at Big Sky Resort’s Montana Jack on Friday, Jan. 27, at 9 p.m. For tickets and more information visit

This show is being co-produced by Outlaw Partners (publisher of EBS) and Big Sky Resort.

Farm Aid III (1987) (Lincoln, NE)

Friday, January 6th, 2017

[Thank you, Phil Weisman, for sharing this clipping about Farm Aid III.]

Chicago Sun-Times
September 21, 1987

LINCOLN, Neb.  Fleeting remarks and lasting impressions from a full day at Saturday’s Farm Aid.

Most valuable players through out the evening’s part of the program were the members of John Cougar Mellencamp’s red-hot band.  After providing hard edge accompaniment for Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” they gave John Prine the sort of rough-hewn, roots-rock backing that he’s been missing since he quit working with Chicago’s Famous Potatoes.

The closing set by Mellencamp and band was one of the event’s most rousing.  On “Small Town” and “Pink House” the accordion and fiddle of his band’s expanded lineup fit just fine with the rock n’ roll rhythm section.  The two-song set, way too short for most of the crowd, provided a taste of what wil likely be one of the fall’s strongest tours.

While Willie Nelson received most of the credit throughout the day, and deservedly so, Mellencamp has also been a driving force behind Farm Aid during its three-year existence.  Both Reed and the Crusados thanked him specifically for enlisting their participation.

The most inspired music that was heard by no one at home came courtesy of Neil Young.  “Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for coke,” he sang.  “Ain’t singing for nobody, it makes me look like a joke.  This note’s for you.”  While Young slammed corporate sponsorship, the broadcast had cut to another commercial.

David Alvin has the distinction of being the only performer to play each of the three Farm Aids, as part of a completely different band.  He was with the Blasters at the first Farm Aid, a member o X at the second and the leader of his own band, the Allnighters at Farm Aid III.

The man who was formerly known as a songwriter and guitarist demonstrated that he had already become a far more confident singer than when he cut “Romen’s Escape,” his recently released debut album as a solo artist.  His afternoon set, mixing country ballads and hard-rock ravers, was one of the event’s highlights.

Dennis Hopper, who was raised on a Kansas farm, introduced country singer Lynn Anderson to the crowd as an “easy rider,” who offered to share her bus with other performers who needed a ride to Lincoln.

He later told the TV audience, “Big companies are interested in big profits.  Period.” an economic analysis that was sure to endear him to corporate America.  “Who would you rather see own America?” he asked.

Events such as this inevitably produce a rash of Bruce Springsteen rumors.  The day before the concert, the talk of the town was dominated by eyewitness accounts of Springsteen and Nelson enjoying dinner at a Lincoln country club.  It never happened, according to officials at the country club.

Willie Nelson and Family at the Granada Theater, in Dallas (Jan 3, 2017)

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

photo:  Mike Brooks
by:  Rachel Williams

You’re marinating in the pre-Willie lobby of the Granada Theater. It’s buzzing with giddy anticipation. Old men, old women, young men and young women beam as they swap autobiographical Willie stories: how many times they’ve seen him live, how far they drove to get here. It hits you over the head that you haven’t seen a group of strangers this united since … actually you can’t remember the last time you saw strangers interact with this much camaraderie. Stifle that single tear you feel forming. Fine tune the ability to control yourself, you sentimental sap. You’ll need it tonight.

If you were able to buy tickets to Willie Nelson’s Tuesday or Wednesday shows at the Granada Theater, you are luckier than the 99 percent of people who desperately wished they could have shelled out $125 a pop for tickets. When they went on sale in November, they sold out immediately. Conspiracy theories began circulating. One had to be either a first degree relative of Willie’s or a unicorn to get into one of these shows.

photo:  Mike Brooks

read entire article here