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Farm Aid 2014 Surprises (Rolling Stone)

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Dave Matthews, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson
Farm Aid Press Conference
by: Erin Manning

Twenty thousand music fans and farmers showed up to the Walnut Creek Ampitheater in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday for Farm Aid 2014, where organizers Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews were joined by an eclectic list of performers in the effort to support small family farms, locally and nationwide. Now in its 29th year, Farm Aid has evolved into much more than a yearly benefit concert, but rather a year-round support system for small farmers and nonprofit groups. Saturday’s festivities included a farming expo with seminars from and for local farmers, vendors and exhibitors, as well as food supplied by local family farms for the festival’s Homegrown Concessions area. Many of the performers were deeply involved in the agricultural education element of the fest: Delta Rae’s Brittany Hölljes led a discussion about connections between urban and rural farms. NOLA’s Preservation Hall Jazz band did a briefing on the similar issues facing fishers and farmers.

Wandering around the grounds could lead one to a snap pea “shell-off,” a DIY pepper jelly session or to a tent where flower crowns were being woven. Workshops like “Sustainable Fishing 101” were available for those wanting to learn, and for the teenagers just wanting to get high and roll around in the grass, there was Dave Matthews.

Here are some of our favorite moments from the big event.


“There’s a flood happening in Texas,” joked Willie Nelson, announcing the Stevie Ray Vaughn cover of “Texas Flood” he was about to launch into with his son Lukas, right before Gary Clark Jr. strolled onstage and threw down the blues solo gauntlet. The repartee between the three transcended the generations and varied backgrounds of everyone onstage, including longtime harp man Mickey Raphael and veteran drummer Paul English, as well as Willie’s sister and lifelong piano player Bobbie Nelson, (the only female in the ten-person ensemble). “Good Hearted Woman” in honor of Waylon Jennings was next, during which Willie’s relaxed style of delivery proved (again), that he’s still riding the chill wave harder than anyone.

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Farm Aid Heads South (Raleigh, NC) (9/13/2014)

Monday, September 15th, 2014

By Thom Duffy

Farm Aid, the annual benefit concert to support America’s family farmers, headed south this year, drawing 20,000 fans to the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, and the move shaped both the music and the message of the event. Now in it’s 29th year, Farm Aid is the longest-running concert for a cause in pop-music history.

Neil Young Protests Fracking & Corporate America in New Crazy Horse Song

Farm Aid’s four guiding stars — Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews — are the perennial headliners of the all-day affair. But acclaimed Southern additions to the bill this year included guitarist extraordinaire Jack White, now based in Nashville; bluesman Gary Clark Jr., born and bred in Austin, Texas; the alt-pop-Americana sextet Delta Rae, making their North Carolina homecoming after a two-year tour; singer/songwriter Todd Snider, who honed his career in Memphis; and the mighty Preservation Hall Jazz Band, marching in from New Orleans.

They were joined by returning Farm Aid favorites Carlene Carter, Jamey Johnson, Jesse Lenat and members of the extended Nelson musical clan: son Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real; Insects vs Robots, featuring son Micah Nelson; and granddaughter Raelyn Nelson and her band, in their Farm Aid debut.

More than a concert, Farm Aid serves as an annual gathering of activists focused on the “good food” movement, environmentalism and social-justice battles. Many farmers and activists travel to the event each year to network, share strategies, listen to the music and eat great family farm food on a menu that Farm Aid has trademarked as “Homegrown.”

This year, Farm Aid organizers aligned their mission of preserving family farms with another struggle with deep roots in North Carolina and the South: the civil-rights movement.

“We all felt that we could not come to this region that has such a profound history without taking note of it,” says Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid. “Civil-rights activists have become examples for all of us, in how to organize and how to work. So we had a two-day gathering [earlier in the week] bringing people together, many of whom are based in the civil-rights movement. They are farmers and farm advocates now.”

Among those activists is African-American dairy farmer Dorathy Barker of Olusanya Farm in Oxford, N.C., who described the discrimination she faced from bankers as she sought financing for her farm. “It didn’t take long for me to realize they were pissing in my face — and it wasn’t raining,” said Barker. She and her husband Phillip are leaders in Operation Spring Plant to advocate for African-American and low-income farmers.

“Corporate domination and corporate control is what’s running farmers into the ground,” said Scott Marlow of the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, an advocacy organization aligned with Farm Aid, at a morning press conference that preceded the concert.

Neil Young echoed that view. “All of the things we’re talking about here are all about power,” said Young, “It’s all about corporations telling us what to do.”

As Farm Aid’s focus shifted from speeches to music, Willie Nelson offered his annual benediction by singing the Lord’s Prayer to open the show. Lenat, at the start of the bill, showcased his upcoming album Son of a Cactus Farmer, while the Raelyn Nelson Band sparkled, proving that more than family ties earned her a spot on the lineup. Likewise, delightful contrasts came from Micah Nelson’s eclectic folk ensemble Insects vs Robots and Lukas Nelson’s muscular Promises of the Real. Lukas’ performance of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” was a standout moment.

In songs like “Can’t Complain” and “Statistician’s Blues” during his early afternoon set, Todd Snider showed that he may the finest bard of both pathos and humor since John Prine. Carlene Carter, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash and granddaughter of country music pioneer Mother Maybelle Carter, introduced “Carter Girl,” the title track of her latest album, which celebrates her family’s history and legacy. Delta Rae, who hail from nearby Durham, N.C., were the hometown favorites and turned in a scorching set of harmonies. (Vocalist Brittany Holljes earlier in the day spoke about her love of getting her hands back in the dirt at the Raleigh City Farm).

The horns and brass, soul and sass of the amazing Preservation Hall Brass Band brought irresistible dance rhythms to the day just before Johnson and Clark stepped up to deliver their respective doses of rock and blues.

Ebet Roberts
Jack White and Lillie Mae Rische perform at Farm Aid on September 13, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
photo: Ebet Roberts

Jack White undeniably ignited the most excitement of the day, taking the stage in the late-afternoon light (Delta Rae’s Brittany Holljes ran to grab a spot near the stage front during his set). Sporting a new fade haircut with retro sideburns and decked out in suspenders, White stored his guitar picks in the antenna of an old tube television at center stage, whose blue static screen was projected across the backdrop. His set list spanned tracks from the White Stripes (“Icky Thump”) to the title track of this year’s Lazaretto album. White is possibly the only singer who can channel Robert Plant and Hank Williams in the same performance and yet create a magnificent roar and twang that’s entirely his own.

Dave Matthews played his traditional Farm Aid acoustic set of favorites like “Ants Marching” accompanied by the marvelously inventive Tim Reynolds. “My guitar isn’t even plugged in,” Matthews deadpanned.

With his vocals sounding stronger than they have in years, John Mellencamp captured the crowd with his power-chord pop hits, but also showcased “Troubled Man” from his forthcoming album Plain Spoken. Among Farm Aid’s four artist board members, Mellencamp has written some of his most best songs — “Small Town” and “Rain on the Scarecrow” — inspired by the struggle of family farms.

“Heart of Gold” opened Neil Young’s acoustic set, as a carved Indian at center stage gazed on, and Young sat at his old-fashioned, wood cabinet organ for the apt “Mother Earth.” But the high point of his set came as Young welcomed both Micah and Lukas Nelson out to add electric energy to “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Willie Nelson’s finale was both understated and overwhelming. His guitar solo on “Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground” was a marvel to behold. Songs like “Whiskey River,” “On the Road Again” and “Always On My Mind” were reminders that Nelson is a national treasure — one who cares deeply about the state of his nation and the families who work the fields to keep it fed.

Farm Aid 2014 was streamed live on Willie Nelson’s SiriusXM channel, Willie’s Roadhouse (59) and in HD by Axis TV, presented by Amy’s Kitchen, a cooking school and specialty food shop in New York. Video highlights will be posted on

For the Farmers: Farm Aid 2014

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

by: Aaron Moody

RALEIGH — Farm Aid’s reach in supporting family farms is nationwide, but its annual concert Saturday allowed for a fair crop of local successes, too.

“We do move around the country, so we can showcase what is going on in their area and the work going on on the ground in those communities,” said Jennifer Fahy, Farm Aid’s communications director.

The outer shell of the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre featured event tents showcasing local vendors and exhibitors, and a long list of seminars including local farmers. There were also homegrown concession areas, with eats supplied by local family farms.

Topics ranged from building rural-to-urban connections to profitability tips. The largest tent was essentially a farming expo with organic compost companies, conservation groups and more.

“It’s a lot to take in – a lot of good stuff, though,” said Karen Crutchfield, an ex-poultry and cattle farmer from Arkansas who attended Farm Aid for the first time. “It’s got a lot of information for small farmers and large farmers to try.”

Daniel Dayton and Erika Gutierrez of Old Milburnie Farm near Knightdale helped lead one of the forums on small farms building relationships with restaurants and farmers markets.

“It’s a really emerging market,” Dayton said of the recent increase in interest for farmers markets in the eastern Wake County area. “People are definitely hungry for humanizing some of these markets that corporate isn’t taking over.”

Dayton, who with Gutierrez is in his second year farming about one and a quarter acres off Old Milburnie Road, said he gained as much as he shared during the concert weekend.

Some of the issues for his small farm aren’t problems for larger farms, he said.

“We’re building a network of support so we can feel like we’re grounded a little more,” he said. “A lot of the things we’re doing on our farm are low-tech and problem solving without much capital to invest.”

Talking openly with other small farmers helps to work out solutions, Dayton said.

“When you get around these young farmers, you can ask questions, like what are you doing to control this weed in this crop situation, and there’s a lot of people that are coming with really creative ideas and ways to deal with these issues without the infrastructure and machinery that people rely on in other farm situations,” Dayton said.

“That’s what’s great about Farm Aid – it gives people the opportunity to gain knowledge, share knowledge they’ve learned on their farm and work together to solve some of these problems that might be specific to a particular farm.”

A separate batch of locals was profiting in an entirely different way at the event.

With gates opening at noon, the concert lasted about twice as long as the typical Walnut Creek show. That meant a chance to score double for nonprofit groups working concession stands and earning a percentage of the sales to go toward their causes.

“We have about 20 groups of nonprofits that fill up the majority of the (concessions) stations on the regular,” said Dan Maxon, who oversees concessions for Aramark at Walnut Creek. “School bands, sports leagues, church groups – it’s an assortment.”

Wayne Vaughan, East Wake High School’s band booster club president, expected 30 people would cover two shifts at the five booths his group staffed. The crew is normally composed of band parents but on Saturday featured a handful of students who helped sell snacks.

It takes covering a shift at about 10 typical-length concerts to pay off the $400 band students owe annually, including travel expenses and competition fees.

Vaughan estimated the boosters would haul in about $3,000 total at the longer Farm Aid concert. With the band’s yearly budget being $55,000, the group stood to offset nearly a 16th of its total annual expenditures in a single day.

“It’s a really good event for a good cause, but from a financial standpoint, the increase in the number of people that come and the profitability of it is great,” Vaughan said. “We planned all year for it, and hopefully in the end it will be a really good event for us.”


Willie Nelson, bigger than ever, comes to Raleigh for Farm Aid

Friday, September 12th, 2014

photo: David McClister

When artists do phone interviews, they’re typically scheduled at set times. But that just ain’t how Willie Nelson rolls. The procedure involves placing a call to his representatives, who then try to track Nelson down and get him on the phone when he’s got the time and inclination to talk.

It took a few calls, but we spoke to Nelson recently from some far-off location on his never-ending tour, which comes to Raleigh Saturday as part of the big Farm Aid shindig. The man turned 81 years old in April, and he’s bigger than ever – back at No. 1 on the country charts for the first time since the mid-1980s with his latest album, “Band of Brothers” (Legacy Records). And he’s still out there singing and playing with his trusty and well-worn guitar Trigger (one of the most distinctive-sounding instruments in all of popular music).

Once we got Willie on the line, here’s how it went:

Q: What memories stand out from the 29 years’ worth of Farm Aid concerts that you’ve played?

A: I guess the first one stands out because it seemed like a thing where it was time for it to happen, and a lot of people agreed. Out on the road, farmers still come to me to talk. Or they text, email, send letters. It’s still the same old thing after 30 years, the same problems. We need a farm bill that will take care of the small family farmer. Now it’s just the big corporations that get help, which seems to be accepted by everybody except me and the farmers and people concerned with where food comes from. I want organic food, and I want it for my kids and grandkids, too.

Q: The “Band of Brothers” title track has a chorus that says, “You can’t tell me what to do.” Who on earth tries to tell you what to do?

A: (laughing) Oh, I don’t think anybody seriously tries, at least not anymore. I probably need someone to tell me on occasion. But I don’t listen anyway, so it would be futile. Just as well nobody tries. I already know what I wanna do.

Q: You co-wrote nine of 14 songs on “Band of Brothers,” the most you’ve written on an album since the mid-1990s. What inspired this latest writing binge?

A: Buddy Cannon and I write well together, and that’s unusual – for me to write well with someone else. The last time was Hank Cochran 50 years ago. Buddy and I think along the same lines, and he’s a great musician and producer. We’ve had a lot of good luck together and we’re still writing a lot of songs. Got another album that’s supposed to come out later this year.

Q: The new album’s “I Thought I Left You,” which likens a former lover to measles and whooping cough, is pretty hilarious. How true-to-life is that one?

A: Pretty true. I think everybody who’s been through marriage, or more than one marriage, can relate to any of that stuff.

Q: Is it ever a burden being Willie, someone everybody thinks they know because of your music?

A: I think it’s what I started out to accomplish from the very first time I played guitar and a girl liked it. “Hell,” I thought, “this is what I wanna do.” It’s easy for me to play and sing and write, and I think it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Q: What do you think you’d have wound up doing if not for music?

A: Oh, I’d probably be a bank robber. Just kiddin’. I went to law school to be a lawyer, but I majored in dominoes. I think I was a better domino player than I would’ve been a lawyer.

Q: There was a need for lawyers when some of your entourage got arrested for marijuana possession in Duplin County in 2010.

A: That was a little bit of trouble. Nothing too serious. Through the years, things like that have happened quite a bit to me. But I’m a little bit more out there and more open about it than most people, I suppose.

Q: Patsy Cline made your career (and hers) when she covered “Crazy.” Did you two ever actually meet?

A: Oh yeah, her and I were great friends. We met in Nashville. I brought some songs from Texas that I’d written and one of them was “Crazy.” I was talking to Charlie Dick, her husband, and played that one. “That’s a great song and I’d love for her to do it,” he said. “Let’s go play it for her right now.” It was after 12 midnight and I didn’t want to go wake her up, but he made me do it. She loved it and recorded it the next week.

Q: So if anything ever happened to Trigger, what would you do?

A: After I finished killing somebody, whoever was responsible, I’d probably be in prison for a few years. Although most people would think I’d be justified, so I might get off. But Trigger’s doing good. Gets a little beat up now and then, and I have to have him fixed up. But he’s still barking pretty good.

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Willie Nelson, Alman Brothers closeout Lockn Festival 2014

Monday, September 8th, 2014

photo: Autumn Perry
Alex Rohr

ARRINGTON – Soulful spirituals drifted through a sparsely wooded concert area at Lockn’ Sunday, drawing drowsy festivalgoers through a row of vendors to a late morning service.

Tents rustled and camp conversations turned from solos and musical transitions from the previous night’s shows, including Widespread Panic with Steve Winwood, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, to deciding to walk a few campground blocks to watch Keller Williams Grateful Gospel.

These gospel-style Grateful Dead covers provided an opportunity for a form of Sunday worship setting an old-style tone for the Nelson County festival’s final day that included country legend Willie Nelson and Southern blues-rock pioneer The Allman Brothers Band. The Allman Brothers are said to be toward the tail end of their final tour,

The band’s retirement foreshadows a nearing end to the era that birthed large music festivals in the 1970s. Large festivals such as Lockn’ are common among many genres.

The Allman Brothers are a bluesy example of the improvisational style of musicianship known as jamming exhibited by artists throughout the week-end. While a band starts with a particular song, musicians adjust and interpret the melodies and harmonies, sometimes transitioning seamlessly into other tunes. The method is com-mon to jazz.

Peter Horwitt, who visited Nelson County from Canada, said he came this far south to make sure he saw the band before they hung up their guitars.

“It means a lot to me,” said Horwitt, of Calgary, Alberta. “I’m not religious but it’s almost like a spiritual experience.”

Ron Butler, who came from Ontario with two friends, didn’t know the Allmans were calling it quits until after he bought a ticket.

“It’s an incredible experience to see something you grew up with and you love before it’s done,” Butler said.

The festival, which drew between 25,000 to 30,000 people, had been going logistically well, according to Lockn’ media representative Stacie Griffin. She focused mainly on the entrance issues that caused backups on U.S. 29 last year.

One change from early Saturday to early Sunday was an increase in searches of backpacks and folded blankets for alcohol in the main stage area.

Patrons were allowed to bring alcohol into the festival grounds, but not the main stage area where beer vendors bookended the field.

“I don’t think it’s a reaction to something,” Griffin said.

She said she believed the more meticulous search method was to deal with more day patrons coming to see Nelson and the Allmans.

Alcohol Beverage Control has come down on Lockn’ on accusations of violations in last year’s initial festival. Lockn’s ABC permit could be at risk next year.

One complaint by patrons was an extended wait in water lines around the car camping area toward the back of the venue. Only two of the fountain’s six spouts were working on the scorching Saturday and lines backed up further than previous days. The problem continued into Sunday. The fountain was near pay showers. The free water fountains generally worked at the festival.

Griffin said Sunday she hadn’t heard of the problem but said she would check on it immediately.

“It might just be a matter of nobody has reported it,” she said.

Most of the portable toilets were out of hand sanitizer by the festival’s sec-ond day. Extra portable toilets were brought in mid-festival.

At each night’s end, the dimming stage lights reflect off the plastic bottles and cups and aluminum cans littered throughout the main stage area. Griffin said Lockn’ started a trash for cash program this year in which volunteers can sign up to pick up trash for $3 a bag at a venue with $3 apples and $8 beers.

“You’re here, you fill up three trash bags, and there’s your dinner money,” Griffin said.

Patrons spoke highly of the festival, in particular the lineup. They also noted the higher number of vendors comparatively.

Griffin was also positive, saying negotiations for next year have already begun.

“We hope to be here for a long time,” she said.

Mickey Raphael Interview in The Weekender

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

by: Brad Patton


Who: Willie Nelson & Family with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
When: 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: $47 to $97 plus fees
Available: From the Kirby Center box office at 570-826-1100 or from

Legendary singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, now 81 and showing no signs of slowing down, is about to go “on the road again.”

Flush with the success of his 69th studio album, “Band of Brothers,” which debuted at number one on the Country Albums chart and number five on the all genre Billboard 200 in June (his best showing in more than 30 years), Nelson is just about to fire up his “Honeysuckle Rose” tour bus for another round of concerts with his family, which includes his sister Bobbie on piano, Mickey Raphael on harmonica, drummers Paul and Billy English and bassist Kevin Smith.

On Thursday, Sept. 11, Nelson and his cohorts will make their seventh stop at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Nelson, who earned his Fifth Degree Black Belt in the art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul (a modern Korean martial arts system) in April, first appeared at the Wilkes-Barre theater in August 1988. His latest performance in May 2012 completely sold out, and the Sept. 11 show looks likely to do the same.

Expanding the Family even further, Nelson’s 24-year-old son Lukas and his band Promise of the Real will open the show.

For nearly 40 years, each time Nelson goes back on the road, harmonica virtuoso Raphael has been along for the ride.

“I’ve been doing some sessions and producing a Highwaymen boxed set,” said Raphael, 62, in a recent call from Nashville. “They’ll swing through and pick me up (soon).”

Raphael, who was originally from Dallas, Texas, played on the first two albums by B.W. Stevenson (best known for the original version of “My Maria”) and met Nelson in 1972 at a party thrown by University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal.

“He called me and said he was having a picking party after one of the ballgames, and that some of his friends would be there,” Raphael recalled. “His friends turned out to be people like Charley Pride and Willie Nelson – I didn’t really know who he was because I never really listened to country music. But he started singing like ‘Night Life’ and stuff like that, and then I kind of figured it out.”

Raphael said Nelson liked his playing and told him to come and sit in with him sometime. After a few gigs, Raphael moved from Dallas to Austin, then Nelson’s home base, and became a fixture at shows and in the studio, first appearing on Nelson’s classic 1975 album “Red Headed Stranger.”

Raphael said the band now plays about 120 to 130 shows a year, usually with a two-weeks on and two-weeks off schedule. The next tour begins on Sunday at the Lockn’ Music Festival in Arlington, Va., then on to two more shows before hitting the Kirby Center. The annual Farm Aid show follows on Sept. 13, this time at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C.

Asked if there was any discussion about either playing or not playing on 9/11, Raphael responded: “Oh God no. You can’t just stop or they win. We played a benefit show right after it happened, so we were on a plane almost immediately afterwards. It will be an honor to play on that day in their memory.”

Raphael said the new album was kind of different from Nelson’s most recent ones in that nine of the 14 songs are new compositions and none of the tunes had been previously recorded by Nelson.

“He co-wrote a bunch of new songs with our producer Buddy Cannon, and it was the first time in many years that there were so many new tunes.”

Raphael said there are some tunes featuring Nelson and his sister Bobbie already in the can, and Nelson has been writing again. Besides the new material, the next release may be the boxed set Raphael is producing that features a 1990 concert by the Highwaymen supergroup (Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, the late Waylon Jennings and the late Johnny Cash).

“They were at the peak of their game when this show at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island was filmed,” he said. “Twenty-five songs came out on a DVD in the ‘90s, but there were 35 recorded and we have brought those other 10 up to speed and it is sounding great. The film will be transferred to HD and the music will come out on three CDs, including a new song we uncovered that has never been out before.”

As for the Kirby show, Raphael said there will probably be two or three songs from the new album mixed in with the classics. Asked if it is hard to put a setlist together since Nelson has so many iconic songs, Raphael just laughed.

“I wouldn’t know because there is no setlist,” he said. “There’s a certain pattern, like we always start with ‘Whiskey River,’ but after that, it’s whatever comes to the top of his head.

“Luckily I don’t play at the beginning of many songs, so I just wait and listen. We’ve been playing together so long, I don’t have to listen for long, and then we’re off and running.


Willie Nelson, songwriter, “Band of Brothers”

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

By Hiram Lee

Veteran country music artist Willie Nelson is now 81 years old. Approaching the sixth decade of his career, he continues to record and perform at an impressive pace. A talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, it is hard to think of another performer in the genre as well liked as he.

Nelson has been making music professionally since 1956. While he found little success as a recording artist in those first several years, he was able to establish himself quickly as a songwriter of note. Some of his early compositions have become standards recorded by large numbers of country, jazz and blues musicians. Nelson wrote “Crazy,” made famous in a legendary recording by Patsy Cline, and “Night Life,” which Ray Price recorded. “Hello Walls” became a hit for Faron Young and “Funny How Time Slips Away” was recorded by Billy Walker.

Like most country music performers, the Texas-born Nelson’s career eventually became centered in Nashville. But Nelson never quite fit in there. He grew frustrated with the constraints of the Nashville entertainment industry and moved back to Texas in the early 1970s. His clean-cut look gave way to long hair, jeans and a beard.

It was in Texas that Nelson’s music began to flourish. It attracted a larger audience, both from traditional country music fans as well as fans of rock n roll. While Nelson was by this time a renowned songwriter, many of his best-known songs as a recording artist would be written by others, including “Whiskey River,” “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time,” “Always on My Mind” and the exceptional “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” written by Fred Rose.

In more recent years, an even larger majority of Nelson’s recorded output has consisted of songs by other composers. His latest album, Band of Brothers, however, marks a return to songwriting. Not since his 1996 release Spirit has a Willie Nelson album featured this many new compositions.

Band of Brothers is an interesting and entertaining album. Nelson’s unique, nasal singing voice has begun to weaken somewhat, but his loose—even casual—sense of rhythm remains. His lyrics fall into the music like clothes tossed onto a bed, but they fit him well in the end.

“They say there is no gain without pain. Well I must be gaining a lot …” sings Nelson on the album’s simple but effective opening song “Bring it On.” One might say this sets the tone for the album, which often takes up themes of loss and hardship. But this is not a work of resignation. The music expresses a fair amount of defiance, humor and understanding in the face of it. One feels a human being behind the songs. They were not written by committee or well vetted by one. There’s something genuine in them.

Nelson still has the ability to turn out verses in which relatively simple and direct lyrics carry significant emotions and ideas to just the right place, setting them firmly in the mind of the listener, as in the song “Guitar in the Corner,” where he sings:

There’s a guitar in the corner that used to have a song/I would hold it while it played me and I would sing along/It was a happy song about a girl loving me like I loved her/But the strings no longer ring and things are not the way they were

In “The Wall,” Nelson sings:

I took on more than I could handle/I bit off more than I could chew/I hit the wall

I went off like a Roman candle/Burning everyone I knew/I hit the wall/I hit the wall

Again, the lyrics look simple enough on paper, but Nelson’s thoughtful melodies and performance give them the weight of experience.

Among the funnier songs in the collection is “Used to Her,” in which Nelson sings of yet another turbulent relationship. The singer has put up with too much, too willingly: When I start getting used to her I get down on my knees/ and say lord I know not what I do/forgive and help me please!

On the brief but amusing “Wives and Girlfriends,” Nelson assumes the character of a womanizer with more problems on his hands than he can manage: “I love my wives and I love my girlfriends, but may they never meet!” It is a send-up of all the egoism, chaos and unrepentance involved.

While Band of Brothers may represent Nelson’s return as a songwriter, some of the strongest songs are still those written by other composers. Perhaps the best verse on the album belongs to veteran songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and his song “The Git Go.” In a duet with Jamey Johnson, Nelson sings Shaver’s angry words:

Money breeds war as long as there’s a man alive/Rich kids go to college and the poor kids fight/And high rollers crap out every time/Roll up soldiers’ bones like loaded dice/War is a beast that makes every mother cry.

One is reminded that when popular country music stars, including Toby Keith and Darryl Worley, wrote openly pro-war songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and “Have You Forgotten?” during preparations for the Iraq War in 2003, Willie Nelson responded with the anti-war song “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?” in which he asked the questions: “How much oil is one human life worth?” and “How much is a liar’s word worth?”

Willie Nelson remains a refreshing and different voice in country music. Band of Brothers is not quite his best album; there are no songs here as strong as “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” or “Crazy,” but there’s something to it. One finds some of the best, most appealing features of country music in this work.

Read article here. 

Willie Nelson on undocumented children being held in Texas, “Treat those kids like they were your kids.”

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

by: DeeDee Garcia Blase

“I guess the closer you are to the situation, the more extreme emotions you have about it, but it seems to me the old golden rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ or ‘treat other people like you want to be treated’ … Treat those kids like they were your kids.”– Willie Nelson

Known for his  country outlaw music with Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and others, at one time “they called Willie crazy, but nowadays they call him a saint.” This is indeed true when Tejanas and Tejanos saw Willie rise to the occasion as hate toward refugee children reached a fevered pitch in Murrieta, California,-immigrant protestors were terrorizing the children as they blocked buses while spewing  anti-Mexican rhetoric (even though these kids were from Central America). The anti-immigrant hate speech carried over to the border convoy caught in Texas of more anti-immigrant protesters.

Many of us were deeply affected with a painful reminder of the broken immigration system that could have prevented this situation. The Democratic-led Senate passed immigration reform over one year ago, and the likes of Speaker Boehner who is in control of the House of Representatives continue to block the vote at the House level with no signs of forward progress to fix the broken system. Now President Obama has no choice but to do what he can within his legal purview and jurisdiction in light of immigration inaction by the House.

I have believed for some time how a musician can be more influential than a political pundit. Politics is something of a bore — it can be dark, complex with evil tentacles tempting people to support bad motives. Political pundits seem to be losing their edge as their columns and/or opinions are only worth their salt for a day or two because political mundane topics equate to a loss of interest leading to further lack of knowledge. That said, it is the norm for people to equate music to joyful, peaceful memories and/or things they can relate to — and this is why when someone like Willie Nelson chimes in on political matters, the ripple affect is massive news for Texas that can permeate forever.

As a Texas-born woman, I am grateful and feel indebted to Willie for his bravery in support of these small and young refugee children. When I heard wind of the news via the San Antonio Express, immigration activists were on a high for days and felt it’s power in the Spirit world.

According to the Rolling Stone:

Nelson also offered his thoughts on the 60,000 Central American children who have crossed the Texas border in the past year who are now sleeping in makeshift holding cells. “I’ve been watching, and the only thing we can do is take care of those kids, whatever it takes,” says Nelson. “Take them in, give them some medical attention. I’m sure there are homes all over the country that would be glad to take care of one or two kids.

“They’re scared,” adds Nelson, whose parents left him to be raised by his grandparents when he was an infant. “They’re being mistreated. And it’s not a good way to start off your life. But it’s a good opportunity for us to show a little bit of humanitarianism and take care of those kids. I know a lot of people want to send them back. I guess the closer you are to the situation, the more extreme emotions you have about it, but it seems to me the old golden rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ or ‘treat other people like you want to be treated’ … Treat those kids like they were your kids.”

I hope Willie secures several generations of music enthusiasts from one of the fastest growing demographics in our Nation. I am confident Tejanos, Chicanos and Latinos will not forget his compassionate Texas act signaled during dire neighborly times. This is not a bad Tejano spot to be for Willie’s continued legendary status particularly whenRegional Mexican music is the top-selling genre of Latin music in the United States.

No stranger to activism, he has a strong history of supporting his community most notably Farm Aid when Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land.

Mere political pundits forget the “unity” message when they increase divisiveness in our “United” States. Many of them add fuel to the fire when stubborn lines are drawn between Democrats and Republicans when resolutions ought to be based on the issues — not necessarily the team you are on when toeing the party line. The United States is essentially one big team, and it appears that Texas Willie Nelson fully understands that. Nelson embraces love, life, and positive political messages. Musicians who have a sincere concern for the direction of our nation ought to rise up as Willie did. As such, musicians who courageously stand up for life and love will benefit with a growing demographic who will innately be loyal to the artists who have compassion for their community and children.

Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love.

Note: Dedicated to Mark Lane who held steady even though he received death threats for taking in refugee children.

Willie Nelson & Family @ Texas A&M (November 17, 2014)

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

By: Robert C. Borden

Earlier this summer when MSC OPAS announced its new season, it promised a “big-name” mystery concert. Everyone was left to guess who it might be.

The mystery was solved on Sunday when OPAS announced Willie Nelson & Family Live in Concert on Nov. 17. Nelson will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Rudder Auditorium at Texas A&M University.

Tickets range from $30 to $150. OPAS Main Stage season ticket purchasers will have the first chance to buy tickets when they go on sale later this month. Season ticket holders will be notified by mail soon. Should any tickets remain, they will go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 5 at the MSC Box Office.

Season tickets to all four OPAS series for the 2014-2015 season are still are available at the Box Office at 979-845-1234. For more information, go to

Anne Black, OPAS executive director, said Sunday afternoon, “Willie Nelson is a living legend. We are terribly excited to add this concert featuring Willie and his talented family to our season.

“Everyone loves Willie and the music he has created throughout his remarkable career. We expect demand for tickets to this one-night-only engagement will be very high.”

Now 81, Nelson has had a storied career for the past six decades. He has recorded more than 200 albums, including the classic Red Headed Stranger and Stardust. He has written such massive hits as Crazy and Night Life. In October, he released To All the Girls, featuring 18 duets with singers such as Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd, Roseanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Norah Jones.

Willie Nelson, by the Numbers

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

by:  John Papendick

Here is a by-the-numbers look at Willie Nelson, who will perform tonight at the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen:

• 16,391: Days between Nelson concerts in Aberdeen (Oct. 1, 1969-Aug. 16, 2014), or 44 years, 10 months and 16 days.

• 150: Albums (69 studio, 42 compilation, 28 collaboration, 11 live)

• 81: Years old (born April 29, 1933).

• 57: Years ago his first single “No Place For Me” was released.

• 36: Years between being on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine (July 1978-August 2014).

• 33: Dollars difference in some ticket prices to see Nelson in Aberdeen. In 1969, $2. In 2014, $35.

• 28: Years between No. 1 country albums (2014 with “Band of Brothers”-1986 with “The Promiseland”).

• 25: Songs have hit No. 1 on the U.S. music charts.

• 22: Years ago, Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson recorded The Highwaymen in Aberdeen, Scotland.

• 15: Albums have hit No. 1 on the U.S. music charts.

• 10: Nelson shows this month in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and South Dakota.

Read entire article here.

Willie Nelson educates about family farms, biofuels, marijuana

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

by Scott Waltman

Willie Nelson will step onto the stage tonight at the Brown County Fair as an undisputed legend of American music who has released more than 200 albums, 15 of which have topped the charts.

He’s a seven-time Grammy winner and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He’s the writer of Patsy Cline’s smash “Crazy” as well as many of his own hits, including “On the Road Again” and “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time.”

He’s sold more than 40 million albums in his home country alone.

He’s recorded with Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Paul Simon, Sinead O’Connor, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Sheryl Crow and countless others.

He’s sold Bibles, spent a stretch in the Air Force and been in trouble with the law for failure to pay taxes and lay off marijuana.

He’s a fifth-degree black belt in the martial art of GongKwon Yusu and sometimes lives in a green community in Hawaii in a home that gets its energy from solar panels.

And he’s a vocal advocate of rural America, family farms and biofuels, issues that bind him to the residents of the corn-covered Dakota prairies almost as much as his iconic music.

Chuck Beck, director of communications for the Sioux Falls-based American Collation for Ethanol, said it’s nice for the biofuel and ethanol industry to have a proponent as popular as Nelson.

“It’s very helpful when you have advocates like Willie Nelson who have a broad stage and are well-known throughout the world and can talk about their (support) of biofuels,” Beck said.

The ethanol industry would like to expand in southern markets, in places such as Texas, Alabama and Louisiana, where country music is king. Nelson’s chatter about biofuels could be a boon to that endeavor, Beck said.

In 2012, under an agreement between Nelson and Pacific Biodiesel, a biofuel called BioWillie was made available at a retail pump in Maui, Hawaii. A previous Nelson-themed biofuel endeavor wasn’t particularly successful, but it didn’t cool Nelson’s support.

“Biodiesel seems to answer a lot of our prayers,” Nelson wrote in his 2007 book “On the Clean Road Again: Biodiesel and the Future of the Family Farm.”

“Not only can it help the U.S. economy, our unwanted dependence on foreign oil and the gasping environment, it could also help the family farmers out of this tragic dilemma they have found themselves in through no fault of their own,” he wrote.

“We hope his endorsement doesn’t go up in smoke,” Beck quipped.

Ah, yes. Consider that an acknowledgement of Nelson’s vocal support of the legalization of marijuana — a cash crop, of sorts.

While South Dakota will likely be one of the last states to ease marijuana laws, 21 states and the District of Columbia have, as of April 22, legalized pot in some way, mostly for medical use, according to the It reports that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use.

Not a big drinker nowadays, Nelson doesn’t hide the fact that he regularly smokes marijuana.

“Cigarettes killed my mother, my dad, half my family, so don’t tell me about health when you’re talking about legalizing marijuana, because it’s not dangerous health-wise. I’m the canary in the mine, and I’m still healthy. Had I stayed with alcohol, I would have been dead or in prison somewhere today,” he said in a 2012 story published in The Guardian.

Nelson is also commonly quoted talking about the health benefits of medical marijuana and how legalizing pot could be a revenue stream for the government.

That might not be the type of talk that will garner tons of favor with South Dakota farmers and ranchers. But as a founder of Farm Aid, Nelson’s ag credibility is safe. And it’s not lost on ag-industry organizations.

Mike Traxinger, a Claremont-area native, is the corporate attorney for the Aberdeen-based Wheat Growers cooperative. He’s previously worked for South Dakota Farmers Union and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is a fifth-generation South Dakotan.

Given Brown County’s strong history of farming, it’s nice that the fair’s featured performer is an advocate of family farms and rural issues, Traxinger said.

His new job has given Traxinger the chance to return to the family farm. Without events like Farm Aid, that’s an opportunity that might not be available to many people, he said.

Traxinger said he might go to tonight’s concert. He said his parents, who farm near Houghton, are going.

Nelson appeals to multiple generations of music fans, many of whom make their living on the farms that feed the nation, Traxinger said.

That’s a point that doesn’t seem lost on Nelson, who also understands the importance of agriculture beyond rural states like South Dakota.

“The fight to save family farms isn’t just about farmers,” Nelson is quoted as saying on the Farm Aid website. “It’s about making sure there is a safe and healthy food supply for all of us. It’s about jobs, from Main Street to Wall Street. It’s about a better America.”

States that have legalized marijuana in some measure:

• Alaska
• Arizona
• California
• Colorado
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Hawaii
• Illinois
• Maine
• Maryland
• Massachusetts
• Michigan
• Minnesota
• Montana
• Nevada
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• Oregon
• Rhode Island
• Vermont
• Washington

Willie Nelson & Family in Milwaukee (8/13; 8/14)

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

photo: John Schulze

Willie Nelson sold out both of the shows he performed in Milwaukee without effort. The demand for Nelson, now 81 years young, seemingly never wanes. He’s one of the figures in country music who has always played by his own rules and is respected for doing just that. While legend is a title that one might be quick to adorn Nelson with, it hardly defines him as a whole. Nelson recently returned to songwriting with his new album “Band Of Brothers,” and continues to redefine himself and his legacy.

Nelson opened up the Aug. 14 show with his classic “Whiskey River,” and after jamming it out with his band moved on to “Beer For My Horses,” a song he recorded with Toby Keith that was released back in 2003. Nelson of course was joined onstage by his trusted Martin N-20 guitar he named Trigger after Roy Rogers’ horse. Weathered, autographed, well loved, and a bit broken in all the right places, Trigger is about as iconic as guitars get in country music. Nelson paid tribute to Waylon Jennings in his third song of the night, “Good Hearted Woman.”

Nelson became famous in an era of country music that focused on radio, honky tonks and the Grand Ole Opry.  The available avenues for up and coming musicians were limited. In perspective, however, the number of musicians looking for record deals was also limited. Nelson recorded his first single in 1956 and in less than 10 years became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.   In 1969 Nelson acquired Trigger and the Martin guitar has been with him ever since.

“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”, by Willie Nelson

Saturday, August 16th, 2014
by: David Downs

Poet-philosopher and outlaw country music legend Willie Nelson released memoir Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die Nov. 13 in hardcover. The breezy, funny chapbook mixes never-before-heard stories, life lessons, and loads of jokes; with a foreword by author, singer, and cult provocateur Kinky Friedman.

An author of 35 books himself, Kinky took a few minutes to chat with Smell the Truth via phone from his ranch in Texas, where he was preparing for the second phase of his Bi-Polar Tour, which starts Nov. 30 in Kansas City, MO. and ends Dec. 20 in Eugene, OR.

Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die began as a co-writing project with Willie, Kinky says, but Nelson’s editor wanted one star, and Willie didn’t want an editor at all.

“The editor only wanted one voice, then Willie says ‘I’m not going to write it if you’re not going to write it’. It was like Tom Sawyer painting a fence. I had to write 27,000 words of which the foreword is all that survived.

“But that title makes sense and is brilliant and a great statement,” Friedman says. “The book gives you some insights into Willie’s actual mind, which are always interesting and diverting and funny and enlightening. It’s music. It’s jokes. It’s a story about farting on an airplane – things like that. And it’s kind of where he is today.

“He is pushing 80 and he was concerned about his mortality – as anybody would be,” Friedman said. “God knows how you feel at that age. Most of Willie’s friends and contemporaries are dead. He’s got some real wisdom.”

“Something about what he is doing is working. He is really honestly connecting with people in a way that’s different than most artists or entertainers. Everybody thinks that they’re Willie’s friend and that’s true, from the doorman, to the guy loading the garbage truck. I’ve been around with Dylan. People are in awe of Bob Dylan, but they certainly don’t come over and say, ‘Hey, Bob, how are you? My name’s Bill.’ And it’s a good thing they don’t.”

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die is easy to pick up and put down, making it great light reading over the holiday vacation. Here’s Nelson:

on exercise:
“Work out, work out, and work out.”

on drug legalization:
“Addiction should be treated as a disease.”

and on President Obama:
“I think that once you become President, the first thing you realize is that you can’t do shit.”

Friedman shares Nelson’s point of view on legalized pot, saying “we got prisons full of people that shouldn’t be there, meanwhile all the pedophiles and politicians run around free.”

And Friedman echoes Nelson’s contempt for corporate Nashville country music.

“Somebody is recording this shit and somebody is listening to it, I guess, and it must be making money, but I can’t think of any classics, anything great that have been written in the past 30 years in Nashville,” Friedman says.Like the book, Friedman’s Bi-Polar tour – which pulls into San Francisco Dec. 18– mixes songs, stories, jokes, and politics. Friedman says exploring another run for Governor of Texas.

“I think we really got a good shot at it. It’s a giant step down from musician to politician and I would only take it for Texas.”

Friedman’s also hawking a new solo CD, Live From Woodstock, a new tequila Kinky Friedman’s Man in Black Tequila, and branded cigar the Kinky Cristo. The music, the tequila, and the cigar all pack Kinky’s trademark punch and sting.

“It’s something that really got to zing for me to feel it,” he said. “We’re a homogenized, sanitized, trivialized culture already. I only have two tastebuds left but they are having a hell of a party.”


Willie Nelson & Family in Springfield, IL (August 12, 2014)

Friday, August 8th, 2014
  • Willie Nelson performs Tuesday at Sangamon Auditorium.

    Country music legend Willie Nelson is 81 years old and probably more active than people half his age.

    Last year, Nelson was scheduled to perform at Sangamon Auditorium, but that show was postponed after Nelson wasn’t feeling well after the most recent Farm Aid fundraising concert. That postponed show was rescheduled for Tuesday at the auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield (see accompanying information for details).

    That may have been the only thing that slowed down the singer who made “On the Road Again,” “Whiskey River,” “Always On My Mind” and many, many other big hits.

    Since the last time Nelson was scheduled to perform in Springfield:

    He released his first album of mostly new material that he wrote himself since 1996. “Band of Brothers” features nine new Nelson-composed songs.

    He was inducted in the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class – and was inducted by friend and recent Academy Award winner, actor Matthew McConaughey.

    “There would be no Austin City Limits without Willie Nelson,” McConaughey said.

    Nelson was the first Austin City Limits performer in 1974 on what is now the longest-running television music program in the U.S. It airs on PBS.

    Fellow country icons Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett joined the “Red Headed Stranger” on stage for a string of hits including “On the Road Again” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

    “It means a lot. It’s Austin City Limits and Austin — the music capital of the world,” Nelson said on his bus before the show.

    Blues rockers Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd ended the night by joining Nelson on stage for a blistering rendition of “Texas Flood.”

    Austin, Texas, had previously celebrated Nelson with a street named after him, and an 8-foot bronze likeness.

    And shortly after the Austin City Limits honor, Nelson received his fifth-degree black belt in the martial art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul.

    Nelson didn’t show off his chops but Grand Master Sam Um assured a packed room that the “Red Headed Stranger” could hold his own against anyone. As is typically the case wherever Nelson goes, other celebrities were close: this time Austin resident Lance Armstrong tiptoed past parents of other students to see his fellow Texan honored.

    “Honestly, I was surprised to be getting this degree,” Nelson said on his bus before the ceremony. “I don’t know what else is out there. I never thought about anything beyond second-degree black belt.”

    The singer gives martial arts a lot of credit for his clean bill of health. Although off stage he’s more famously known for more mellow interests — like smoking pot — Nelson said he stays physical whenever possible. He’s also a runner and avid bike rider.

    “I’m pretty healthy at 81. I think a lot of it has to do with the exercise that you do,” Nelson said. “I think martial arts is one of the best exercises you can do. Mentally, spiritually, physically, everything. I’m sure that’s helped.”

    When Nelson initially showed up to his studio, Um said he worried about the musician’s heart because of his age. Then the instructor got a glimpse of his lifestyle over the next 20 years.“He has more stamina than I do,” Um said.

    Nelson donated many of his platinum records, manuscripts and creative documents to the University of Texas.  UT’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History on Thursday announced Nelson’s gift.  The Willie Nelson Collection in Austin will be the focus of an upcoming exhibit. UT officials say the collection includes letters and photos from fellow musicians including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Lionel Richie. The items also pay tribute to Nelson’s fans and their gifts and notes to him over the years.

    Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this article.Read article here.

Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss & Union Station (Detroit) (July 13, 2014)

Sunday, July 13th, 2014



• Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss & Union Station
• 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 13
• Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Pkwy., Sterling Heights
• Tickets are $45-$79.50 pavilion, $10 lawn|
• Call 586-268-5100 or
by:   Gary Graff

A Willie Nelson appearance usually gets folks excited simply because he’s an American music icon. But it’s even more exciting when he’s adding new songs to his legendary repertoire.

Nelson’s new “Band of Brothers” marks the first album in nearly two decades to feature primarily his own material — nine of 14 tracks, in fact. And Nelson is quick to credit album producer and co-writer Buddy Cannon for getting him back into writing mode.

“He produced the album, but he’s also a great writer and we’re good together,” Nelson, 81, explains. “We had a sort of formula that worked. I’d come up with an idea I’d send him, just me and the guitar, just one take on it, and he would take that into the studio and hire musicians and cut the whole track from that, then I’d go back and put my vocal on it.

“So it was an easy album to cut, really.”

Nelson even has another album he plans to release later this year, which he recorded with his regular band and features “about eight or nine originals” including “Back To Earth” and “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” as well a version of Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” But he adds that the was never particularly concerned about the lack of new songs he was releasing during the interim.

“With writing, some days you feel like doing it, some days you don’t,” explains Nelson, who also recorded songs by Vince Gill, Billy Joe Shaver, Billy Burnette and others for “Band of Brothers.”

“A lot of times you get an idea and you have to write about it, or at least I do. The ones you HAVE to write are usually the ones that become the best songs.”