Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

Willie Nelson cancels Nov. 14th show in Panama City, FL, following effects of Hurricane Michael

Saturday, October 20th, 2018
Willie Nelson show has cancelled the Marina Civic Center on November 14:

Due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael across the panhandle of Florida, the Willie Nelson concert scheduled to play at the Marina Civic Center on Wednesday, November 14 has been cancelled.

The show will play in Montgomery, AL at The Montgomery Performance Arts Centre on the same day. Our thoughts and prayers are with residents of the panhandle at this time.

Tickets purchased for the Marina Civic Center performance can be refunded at the point of purchase.

Willie Nelson, “Funny How Time Slips Away”

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
by:  Patrick Doyle

At his show at Forest Hills Stadium this summer, Willie Nelson did something unusual: He played his classic “Funny How Time Slips Away” in full. Regulars of his shows might have noticed that he usually plays a short version of the 1961 song as part of a medley alongside “Night Life” and “Crazy,” but because he was playing a shorter set, he decided to drop some other songs and switch things up. “I like to keep it in [my set] if I can,” he told Rolling Stone afterward.

The performance was reminiscent of another excellent version: In 1997, Austin City Limits threw a songwriter special with several old-school legends: Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Porter Wagoner, Mel Tillis, Billy Joe Shaver, Ralph Emery, Mickey Gilley, Bobby Bare, Kimmie Rhodes and more. It was intimate and full of moving moments, like Kristofferson opening up about a profound religious experience that led him to write “Why Me Lord.”

But one musical performance stood out — Willie picking up his guitar, Trigger, and playing “Funny How Time Slips Away.” He wrote the song during a dark period, when he was living in Houston in the early Sixties, working as a radio DJ, trying to support his family. By the time of this performance, he’d played the song thousands of times. But it quickly became clear that this was not a normal performance. “Well, hello there,” Nelson sang, hitting a dissonant chord that he quickly resolved, launching into a performance that perfectly combined his unique phrasing and acoustic jazz escapades (listen to the solo). In the clip, you can see the effect of the performance: Kristofferson has tears in his eyes; Shaver moved in deep meditation.

Nelson just released a new song, “Vote ‘Em Out,” and will bring his Outlaw Music Festival to L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl this Sunday, playing alongside Phil Lesh & Friends, Sturgill Simpson, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Margo Price, Particle Kid and more.

Willie Nelson, family and friends at Outlaw Music Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (9/23/2018)

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Outlaw Fest Breaking All the Rules at SPAC
Article and photos by:  Jim Gilbert

It must be illegal to have so much talent on one stage, but Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Fest broke all the rules at Saratoga Performing Arts Center Sunday, September 23, 2018. From keeping SPAC open past August to country singers crooning about open-mindedness and love, Outlaw Fest challenged all the norms you might expect at a country music fest.

The concert opened in the afternoon with Nelson’s youngest, Micah Nelson whose band is titled “Particle Kid.” Sounding like a Green Day alternative band, Particle Kid’s heavy bass, melodic whistling, and guitar changes made by a stagehand wearing an astronaut helmet lent a fun feel to the afternoon. Nelson’s words to his third song, “I’m in love with the ocean / Does the ocean love me back?” aptly demonstrates the depth of the lyrics and vibe of the performance. Particle Kid was yearning, stretching, and laughing a bit too during the set.

Lucas Nelson and the Promise of the Real followed. Lucas is Micah’s older brother and a favorite in both music and films at present. His band, The Promise of the Real, lives up to its name. The musicians played guitar solos beautifully between songs, lending a lovely transition. Lyrics about turning off the news and raising kids to be more hopeful were running themes. Lucas at one point voiced that “Trust builds trust,” and the crowd cheered. There was both a hopefulness and a musicianship that was reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s works in the 1970s, both in representing themes around peace, nature, and love and musicians tackling more challenging blends and chords. When Lucas vocalized, “I believe every heart is kind / some are underused,” the crowd cheered and shared optimism back with the singer.

Nathaniel Rattliff and The Night Sweats quickly took the stage next, with very little downtime between performers. The band channeled Johnny Cash old style sound, producing a wall of music complete with blaring trumpets, tenor sax, and drums. The high energy, hand clapping, the brass screaming sound had the crowd on its feet. The bass was so heavy the screens on either side of the stage were vibrating, and Rattliff’s Baptist church voice brought almost a revival feel to SPAC. Rattliff and the Night Sweats sustained this energy for over an hour of blues, swing, and country feel, peaking with high energy and joyfulness on the faces of the musicians and fans alike.

After this fevered pitch, Sturgill Simpson took the stage with a much heavier, rock country sound that prompted many in the crowd to request earbuds Sturgill is a southern rocker, and there was no apology to how he added noodling and long jams within his set. While different from those before and after him at the festival, Sturgill was fiercely loyal to his own sound and had integrity within his set too, representing his beliefs about keeping an open mind in a genre that doesn’t always celebrate diversity and cognitive flexibility.

Nathaniel Rattliff and The Night Sweats quickly took the stage next, with very little downtime between performers. The band channeled Johnny Cash old style sound, producing a wall of music complete with blaring trumpets, tenor sax, and drums. The high energy, hand clapping, the brass screaming sound had the crowd on its feet. The bass was so heavy the screens on either side of the stage were vibrating, and Rattliff’s Baptist church voice brought almost a revival feel to SPAC. Rattliff and the Night Sweats sustained this energy for over an hour of blues, swing, and country feel, peaking with high energy and joyfulness on the faces of the musicians and fans alike.

After this fevered pitch, Sturgill Simpson took the stage with a much heavier, rock country sound that prompted many in the crowd to request earbuds Sturgill is a southern rocker, and there was no apology to how he added noodling and long jams within his set. While different from those before and after him at the festival, Sturgill was fiercely loyal to his own sound and had integrity within his set too, representing his beliefs about keeping an open mind in a genre that doesn’t always celebrate diversity and cognitive flexibility.

The crowd would have to wait for Neil Young and the Promise of the Real to take the stage, but it was totally worth the wait. Lucas and Micah Nelson joined Young, who was clad in a flannel, jeans, and old felt hat. Young’s positive connection with Lucas and Micah has clearly energized him; after a brief “How ya doin’?” Young jumped right in with tunes from his entire career. Young is a star in his own right; many in the crowd traveled to SPAC just to see him perform. “Heart of Gold” was so well received by the crowd that they seemed to be moving as one heart, swaying and singing. Young would dance and lean into guitar player Lucas Nelson, laughing and jumping like a much younger man.

Willie Nelson concluded the festival, crooning his love songs accompanied by his sister and sons. Rattcliff came on stage for a song, and Young joined for two songs too. Nelson seemed to speak some of the lyrics more than sing them, but no love was lost between him and his fans. As the night took on a cool September chill, fans stayed in abundance to cheer on their well loved favorite country star.

See all the photos at:

Outlaw Fest Breaking All the Rules at SPAC

Willie Nelson, long may you run

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

McCartney, who is 76, said when he later ran into Willie Nelson — who McCartney said “is even older than I am” — he asked Willie when he expected to retire.

McCartney said Nelson, who is 85, replied by asking “Retire from what?” That’s all the encouragement McCartney needed.

During the past few weeks, both McCartney and Willie have released new albums — and they’ve both shot up the Billboard album charts.

McCartney’s new album “Egypt Station” debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard Top 200 upon its release.

Willie’s new album of Frank Sinatra’s songs titled “My Way” debuted at number 2 on Billboard’s Jazz Album charts when released two weeks ago and has since remained in locked in the number 2 position because another couple of artists have kept a lock on the number 1 spot for the past couple of weeks — 92-year-old Tony Bennett, whose new duet album with Diana Krall, titled “Love Is Here to Stay,” debuted at the top spot and so far hasn’t budged.

Not to worry though. Willie’s “My Way” debuted in the top 40 of Billboard Top 200 chart, which covers all genres, peaking at the number 36 position. “My Way” is not listed on Billboard’s Country Music Charts. Go figure.

Bennett and Willie are followed on the Billboard Jazz Album charts by Paul Simon, who is 76 and recently completed his Homeward Bound Farewell Tour.

Simon’s not the only musician of his era to say they’re ready to quit the road. Both Elton John, 71, and Joan Baez, 77, are currently in the midst of farewell tours. That’s not the case with Baez’s former companion, Bob Dylan, who at 77 keeps up a relentless touring schedule, with concert stops scheduled for Tulsa and Thackerville, Oklahoma, on Oct. 12 and 13.

Baez has said Dylan doesn’t have to worry about the condition of his throat like she does. How do you know, Joan? No telling how hard he’s worked to achieve that sandpaper and gravel sound. (I’ve never known of Dylan canceling a concert because of a raspy, sore throat, though. No problem— just keep singing).

Speaking of concerts, both McCartney and Willie are well-known road warriors — especially Willie, who is constantly on the road again.

Both are also in the midst of current tours — with McCartney performing last night, Oct. 5, during his Freshen Up Tour as headliner for the first weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Texas. He’s returning for what is billed as Weekend 2 for another concert next Friday, Oct. 12, before embarking for Japan at the end of the month and then playing selected European dates in December, including a homecoming date in his native Liverpool.

He’s set to return to the U.S. on May 23, 2019, with a kickoff concert in New Orleans. (Alas, no Oklahoma dates are included at this point).

Although Willie is strongly identified with Austin, he won’t be able to join his buddy McCartney onstage next weekend. That’s because Willie is kicking off another tour on Oct. 12 that includes a concert date in Nevada and a swing across California.

Willie’s fans in the Sooner State can rejoice, however, because his tour includes a Nov. 24 concert at WinStar World Casino Resort in Thackerville — the tour’s last stop before he winds it up with four dates in Texas — including a three-night stint in Austin performing with his son, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a band which often includes another son, Micah Nelson.

So while some of their contemporaries are going into self-proclaimed retirements, I’ll congratulate and encourage Willie, McCartney, Bennett, Dylan and all those who keep on keepin’ on with the title of a Neil Young song.

“Long May You Run.”

“What the heck is the deal with Texans boycotting Willie Nelson?”

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
by:  David Courtney

Q: What the heck is the deal with this boycott of Willie Nelson thing I’ve been seeing pop up on my social media accounts recently? Did I miss something?

Colt Johnston, Los Angeles, California

A: Well, hello there! My, it’s been a long, long time. How are you doing? The Texanist hopes you’re doing fine. How’s your new love—

Whoa! Please excuse the Texanist—he was lost in song for a moment there. And what a song! The Texanist bets he’s listened to that one a million times, and it still gives him goosebumps.

So, okay, you asked the Texanist a question, didn’t you? Right—Willie Nelson, social media, boycotts. Got it. OK, here’s the deal: the topic at the heart of your query, the news stories about all those upset Willie fans calling for people to stop listening to his music, is a great big load, nothing more than another minor road rage event on a desolate shoulder of the information superhighway.

Rolling Stone, the Washington Post, Fox News, HuffPost, People, and a slew of other outlets reported on the supposed kerfuffle. But beneath the eye-grabbing headlines— “Willie Nelson Fans Furious Over Announcement That He’ll Headline a Rally for a Dem Candidate,” “Willie Nelson is Playing a Political Concert for Beto O’Rourke. Some Fans Are Abandoning Him”—virtually all of the articles noted that the surprising thing about the reaction was that there was a reaction at all, which is exactly what surprised the Texanist and caused this thing to get stuck in his craw.

All Willie fans know that he’s been a first-rate country act since way back in the 1950s, having written and recorded enduring classic upon enduring classic; and that he bucked the Nashville system and moved to Austin where he grew his beard and hair and started cavorting with the hippies; and that he pioneered the “outlaw” movement in country music; and that he’s had ups and downs in his personal life; and that he’s created a sound and persona totally unto himself, including but not limited to having duetted with the likes of Ray Charles, Julio Iglesias, and Snoop Dogg, among many others, and even going so far as to release a reggae album; and that through the years he’s become known as an avid partaker in the martial arts, golf, jogging, and marijuana. And these same fans, even the most casual among them, would surely also be well aware that Willie is known for his activism and occasional stance taking.

What Willie fan, after all, isn’t familiar with his advocacy for American farmers, via his 1985 founding of Farm Aid; his boosterism of alternative fuels, via Willie Nelson Biodiesel; his support for LGBTQ rights, via the release of “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other”; his endorsement of the legalization of marijuana, via his very public usage; and his allegiance to America, via his championing of liberty and the pursuit of happiness? And what Willie fan worth their salt doesn’t also know that he’s openly backed numerous politicos, D’s, R’s, and I’s, going all the way back to his support for Tex Ritter, the Murvaul-born country singer and actor who fell short in his 1970 Tennessee Republican Primary bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Al Gore, Sr? Everybody know this, fans and non-fans (if there even is such a thing) alike.

Just as most of the news reports reported, a person who knows all this would have to be crazy—crazy for feeling so outraged, crazy for feeling the least bit surprised by such an announcement. The Texanist was left completely flummoxed by the whole mystifying thing. What the disparagers were thinking, he does not know.

A few of the stories, such as a fine one penned by the Texanist’s colleague Dan Solomon for the Texas Monthly website, used the incident to comment on the current hyper-polarized state of our public discourse, which does at times resemble a broken-down heap on the aforementioned shoulder of the information superhighway. The Texanist, though, a glass half full type, has managed to find a glimmer of hope amidst the wreckage. The way the Texanist sees it, the country’s opposing sides seem to have finally, at long last, sunk all the way down and hit the rockiest of rock bottoms when it comes to the quality of our political dialogue. There simply is no level lower than the one at which folks see fit to besmirch Willie Nelson for being Willie Nelson. The Texanist welcomes the return of simple civility, mutual respect, and general level-headedness that will surely follow, preferably while that classic 1974 Willie album, Phases and Stages, a real fan favorite, plays in the background. Boy, that is a good ‘un.

For his part, Willie responded to the hubbub in the Williest of ways, with aplomb and his signature wry humor. “I don’t care—they’re entitled to their opinions and I’m entitled to mine,” he told the hosts of the television talk show The View. “I love flak. We’re not happy ’til they’re not happy.” The Twitter account for his cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve, responded to calls for the burning of Willie’s records by tweeting, “If you’re going to burn something, burn Willie’s Reserve.” And later in the week, Willie, similarly unfazed, brushed off the dustup on an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert before promoting this year’s Farm Aid Concert, Willie’s Reserve, and his brand new and aptly titled album, My Way.

Thanks for the letter, Mr. Johnston. Now, in the words of that great American icon of iconoclasm, let’s pretend it never happened and erase it from our minds. Onward and Upward!

Willie Nelson: My Way

Sunday, September 9th, 2018
60 years in the spotlight
by:  Thomas H. Green
Of all the great country superstars of his era, Willie Nelson is truly the last man standing (as was made clear by the title of his last album… Last Man Standing). In his mid-80s his output has, if anything, become more prolific. However, if his 1970s outlaw persona could peek into the future and see what 2018 Willie was up to, he might be surprised. His latest album, a tribute to his old pal Frank Sinatra, has wandered far off into the world of late night jazz bar shuffling.

In truth, Nelson has form in this area. A couple of years ago he released a set of George Gershwin standards – and even as far back as 1978 he was covering Sinatra-friendly cuts such as “On the Sunny Side of the Street” in a jazz style – but My Way still seems especially mellow, bow-tied and urbane.

The truth is these versions of well-worn songs are not vital or necessary but, by the same token, Nelson’s ease with them makes listening likeable. He doesn’t amp up the croon factor or melodrama like so many young Bublé wannabes. He simply inhabits the songs, his voice, with its distinctive quaver, giving the appropriate lived-in feel to cuts such “One for My Baby (and One for the Road)”. His very age brings forth the emotional content of numbers such as “Young at Heart”, the ever-poignant genius of Ervin Drake’s timeless classic “It Was a Very Good Year”, and even lends the hackneyed, over-played “My Way” a little charm.

A commercial selling point may be the appearance of Norah Jones on a rather throwaway version of “What Is This Thing Called Love” but, on the other hand, the album is most especially aided by fine instrumental work, from the 3.00 AM rustling drums to the orchestration of Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings. Most exceptional of all is some stunning guitar work, both jazzily virtuosic and lazily lovely. By the time the listener reaches the closing “Blue Moon”, even a cynic like this writer, entirely sick of predictable Alexander Armstrong-style “American songbook” bollocks, may be somewhat persuaded by Nelson’s effortless take on it all.

Willie Nelson and Van Morrison at Outlaw Festival (September 8, 2018)

Sunday, September 9th, 2018
by: Scott Tady

BURGETTSTOWN — Well, it was a marvelous night for a moon dance Friday, with Van Morrison at KeyBank Pavilion singing many of his classic songs.

Not that the lazy fans in the second-tier seats got up on their feet to shake and groove until the very end, though it looked rather lively on the lawn.

Granted, Morrison’s 90-minute performance got off to a slow start, bringing initial fears of, wow, what if the 45-year wait to see the Northern Ireland legend on a local stage didn’t meet expectations? Morrison and his band sounded too quiet, especially compared to the guitar-shredding set of alt-country artist Sturgill Simpson that had preceded them.

Morrison seemed to notice it, too, making a few upward pointing gestures, as in, hey, turn up the volume. Morrison played sax on “Benediction (Thank God For Self Love),” and he and his lightly jazzy pop-rock band sounded OK on “Magic Time,” but they were still too quiet and in need of more energy. Sporting a dark suit, tinted glasses and stylish hat, Morrison added harmonica to the blues standard “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” which perked up things. Everything finally started to click — evidently volume adjustments were made — as Morrison’s signature, soulful voice got good and peppy on “Here Comes The Night” by his 1960s band Them.

From there, it truly was a marvelous experience, as the band began to assert itself, including soothing female backing vocals on “Carrying a Torch” then the classic “Moondance,” somewhat re-arranged, with a prominent bass line behind Morrison’s jaunty vocals.

Van The Man even cracked a smile during “Broken Record,” where he and the band imitated a broken record, complete with a scratching, stuck needle sound effect, and him repeatedly singing “broken record, broken record, broken record…”

The excitement grew with a back-to-back “Days Like This” and the classic “Wild Night,” while Morrison played piano for “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

And talk about an epic ending, with the famed “Brown Eyed Girl” sparking the crowd to sing “Sha la la la la la la la la la la, dee dah” — just like that — and then a spry “Gloria,” in all its G-L-O-R-I-A glory, getting even those spectators in the pavilion’s second tier to stand and dance.

Not only did local Morrison fans get to a cross an item off their bucket list, they saw a fine performance.

For many of the 17,500 or so spectators, Morrison was the main draw, though six other acts made memories at this Outlaw Music Festival, including headliner Willie Nelson, who at 85, still has a charming stage presence. With a huge Texas flag unfurled behind him, Nelson, armed with his trusty and battered acoustic guitar, chugged through classics like “On The Road Again,” “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and his set-launching “Whiskey River.”

Nelson’s son Micah played drums with brushes, giving the sound a nice country-western shuffle, with Willie’s other boy, Lukas, bringing some smoking guitar and a voice similar to his dad’s on the high notes during “It’s Floodin’ Down in Texas.”

From a Hank Williams medley to a lovely rendering of “Always on My Mind,” Nelson proved he’s still a quality entertainer.

His boys both got to play an afternoon set, with Micah, under the stage name Particle Kid, conjuring an intriguing sound that mixed twangy country, conga drums and psychedelic vocal effects. The crowd loved his “Everything is Bull—-” for which brother Lukas came on and added air guitar before seamlessly starting his own set that showcased exciting guitar and great songwriting.

Lukas and his band, Promise of the Real, connected with the crowd on “Turn Off The News,” a song that begins “I believe that every heart is kind/some of them are just a little underused” before getting to a message of skipping the TV news and doing something positive instead, like planting a garden or spending time with your kids. “We might feel a bit less hardened,” he says.

You’ll hear more about Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real when they appear as the band in the much hyped “A Star is Born” reboot with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Compared to Lukas Nelson’s set, outlaw country artist Sturgill Simpson and his band seemed too sprawling and self-indulgent, though there were some thrilling moments amid their lengthy jams.

Maybe the finest performance of the day came from Brandi Carilie whose rocking band entertained and delivered a message. Carlile mentioned her two daughters and her wife, saying she feels compelled to talk about them on stage to assert their rights to be a family. Alone on stage at that point, she sang the touching song “The Mother,” with a cute line about her first-born: “the first things she took from me were my selfishness and sleep.”

Carlile uttered something about there being no junkies, just people suffering through hard times, as she set her full, warm voice loose on “Sugartooth,” a song she wrote about a friend who had a drug addiction and took his own life.

Carlile ended her set with an impressive, full-bodied rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.”

The sparse crowd entering the gates by 2:45 p.m. saw a wonderful opening set by Pittsburgh’s own The Commonheart. Clinton Clegg’s soul-searching voice, backed by scorching guitar, shined on a few originals and an excellent cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” done Joe Cocker style.



Farm Aid: Concert for America 1985

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Thank you, Phil Weisman, for these Farm Aid souveniers.

Waylon and Willie due at ChicagoFest (August 9 1979)

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018


Two big stars for ChicagoFest will be country music singers Waylon Jennings on August 8 and Wiie Nelson on Aug. 9.  Willie, who likes only Southern cooking, is bringing his own chuckwagon and chef.  Joe drives the chuckwagon with his motorhome behind it.    The rock group Kiss will perform at the international Amphitheater on Sept. 22.


Willie Nelson and Family at Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Country music legend Willie Nelson serenaded a full house on Saturday night at Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles. Allison Krauss and Union Station opened the show with soulful, harmonic crooning.

Nelson delighted crowds with classic hits such as “Whiskey for my Men, Beer for my Horses,” Roll me up and Smoke me When I die,” and, “If You Got The Money, I’ve got the Time,” encouraging the audience to sing along.

At the end of the show, Nelson shook hands with the attendees in front and threw off his hat and signature bandana for lucky fans to catch. His good-natured kindness radiated through the stadium, sending everyone home smiling ear to ear.


Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss in San Diego (8/10/2018)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018
by:  George Varga

The temperature was a toasty 80 degrees when Willie Nelson concluded his Friday night performance at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. But that didn’t stop the 85-year-old American music icon from delivering a thoroughly engaging, full-steam-ahead hour of songs.

True, Nelson at one point removed his sweat-drenched red bandanna from his head and tossed it into the sold-out audience. Happily, though, he never faltered during his 22-song show.

It began with his traditional set-opener, “Whiskey River,” and concluded with a spirited medley of the gospel-music chestnuts “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “I Saw the Light,” with harmony vocals from the concert-opening Alison Krauss.

Better yet, Nelson seemed fully engaged and focused throughout his 63-minute performance. By contrast, his 2017 concert at Humphreys was an often listless, decidedly up-and-down affair that saw him coast on automatic pilot for at least half the evening.

On Friday, Nelson clearly wanted to make a statement to his loudly enthusiastic listeners, who greeted him with a standing ovation at the 1,450-capacity venue. (Hundreds more listened from all manner of boats in the adjoining marina.)

His statement did not come in the form of the four-letter word, PALA, that appeared in white capital letters on the front of his black T-shirt. And, no, that’s not an acronym for the yet-to-be-formed Pot Accession Leaders Association, although the marijuana-championing Nelson three years ago launched his Willie’s Brand line of pot products and held an invitation-only promotional event Friday afternoon at the Grand Antique artists collective in Logan Heights.

Rather, his statement was one of musical purpose and tenacity, of reaching deep into songs he has performed countless times and investing them with new emotional resonance.

That he succeeded so well Friday made his concert a triumph. This holds especially true coming on the heels of his Jan. 6 performance here at Harrah’s Resort SoCal ended abruptly within a few minutes, after which the flu-stricken Nelson canceled a string of subsequent concert dates. After getting back on the road again, he ended his May 26 concert in Charlotte, N.C., before playing a single song, later citing a stomach bug as the reason.

So the fact that this legendary Texas troubadour performed with such gusto at Humphreys was all the more impressive, especially on such a sweltering night. Retiring, as Nelson stated in an interview earlier this year with AARP The Magazine, is something he has no intention of doing.

His Friday performance did not include “Crazy” or “Night Life,” but Nelson has written many more classic songs than he can include in a single show. Two of them, “I Never Cared for You” and “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” were given exquisite readings by Krauss and her seven-piece band during their sublime, 76-minute opening set.

Nelson scored equally well with such tender ballads as “Always On My Mind” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” as he did when romping through Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over” and his own “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “Woke Up Still Not Dead Again Today.” His oh-so-supple rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” was infused with an elasticity of phrasing more often heard in the work of singular jazz artists, such as trumpet giant Miles Davis (who aptly named a 1970 composition of his “Willie Nelson”).

A guitarist who can run hot and cold, Nelson was in good form Friday, executing fleet lines in his heartfelt interpretation of Django Reinhardt’s smoldering instrumental, “Nuages.” For good measure, Nelson playfully quoted the trademark electric piano line from Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” twice during his six-string solos, first during his spry version of Tom T. Hall’s “Shoe Shine Man,” then again during “Move It On Over.”

Nelson was ably backed by a six-piece band that included his sister, Bobbie, on piano, his son, Micah, on percussion, rhythm guitar and backing vocals, and Mickey Raphael on harmonica, who at times seemed to be simultaneously channeling the spirits of Charlie McCoy and Toots Thielemans.

The supremely tasteful opening set by the angelic-voiced Krauss was a master-class in musical excellence, pacing and the art of understatement. Her gorgeous singing on “Ghost in This House” and “Now That I Found You” was expertly matched, note for note, by her ace band, which — like her — soared even when performing at a near-hush.

Read article, see photos here.

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

Sunday, August 12th, 2018
  • 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.

Willie Nelson Slot Machines

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Las Vegas-based gaming technology provider Everi Holdings reported its second straight profitable quarter Tuesday, exceeding analysts’ expectations for revenue and hitting the forecast for earnings.

“Ongoing customer demand for products across the spectrum of our games and financial technology solutions portfolio is driving growth across the key performance indicators of our business,” Everi President and CEO Michael Rumbolz said in a release issued Tuesday afternoon.

He said adjusted cash flow increased 10 percent to a record $59.5 million for the quarter.

The company produces a series of reel slot machine games called “Super Jackpot” and themed slot machines using the imagery of country star Willie Nelson.

Executives said new offerings would be demonstrated at October’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas and details of some of the company’s capital expense goals would be outlined at Everi’s first-ever analyst day on Sept. 26 in Chicago.

Everi raised its projected adjusted cash flow for 2018 from $228 million to $231 million.



About Willie, Trigger, Weed, Woody Harrelson

Monday, August 6th, 2018
by:  Jake Harris

Willie Nelson and his trusty guitar, Trigger, have been through a lot together. The beat-up Martin N-20 acoustic has been with Nelson since he purchased it for $750 in Nashville in 1969. Nelson has played the guitar at his famous Picnics and all over the world. But the famed guitar almost perished in a Christmas Eve fire in 1969.

The following bit of Willie lore might be familiar to many fans, but a 2015 Rolling Stone documentary on Trigger has been making the rounds on social media lately, especially on the r/Austin subreddit, and well, we never pass up an opportunity to talk about Willie Nelson.

The story goes like this:

On Christmas Eve 1969 in Nashville, Nelson was away from his Ridgetop home when he received a call that his house was on fire.

“I came home, rushed in, and I went in and got my guitar and a pound of weed,” Nelson recalls in the documentary. “I saved Trigger, so it was a good day.”

Nelson then took the house fire as a sign that he needed to relocate back to Texas — Austin, specifically.He took Trigger with him.

The full documentary is about 12 minutes long and is narrated by Woody Harrelson. It also features some more Trigger anecdotes like story of the time he had his daughter Lana hide the guitar when the IRS seized his possessions.

Read article here.

“It’s a Long Story: My Life” — Willie Nelson

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

by: K. Shapiro

Marijuana is obviously having its most major moment. And with it comes an entirely new culture — one where it’s more acceptable than ever to wear weed on your sleeve. Here at The Cannabist, we are setting out to shine a light on those who define the style of cannabis culture — past or present, real or fictional. We’re looking to those who embody the spirit of what marijuana means, through art, music, fashion and film.

It is our honor to start this series on weed icons with the original outlaw, Willie Hugh Nelson (b. April 29, 1933; Abbot, Texas). In a recent Rolling Stone profile, Patrick Doyle dubbed him “one of America’s greatest songwriters, a hero from Texas to San Francisco, a hippie’s hippie and a redneck’s redneck.” We will also add that he’s a stoner’s stoner.

Willie Nelson’s new memoir goes on sale Tuesday, May 5.

In the book, Nelson also reflects on finding inspiration in the counterculture of the 1960s — the time when he first experienced and soon adopted the hippie lifestyle.

“I liked that (the kids) had courage to look and act any damn way they pleased,” he writes. “The new world represented by the Grateful Dead or the Jefferson Airplane was new only in appearance. (It) appealed to me because it was bold and creative and said to the world, ‘To hell with what you think. I’ll dress any way I please.’”

And he always has. Nelson’s signature style is anti-establishment, anti-fashion even. A black hat, bolo tie, cowboy boots (now New Balance), T-shirt and a bandana headband are all a part of Nelson’s enduring look. Oh, and the braids. Hell, they fetched $37,000 at auction in 2014. When classic cowboy is matched with rockstar authenticity — it’s inimitable. He doesn’t try, and he doesn’t have to. He’s just that fucking cool.

High fashion too, looks good on Nelson. Designer John Varvatos, who has a deep connection to music, celebrated Nelson’s style in his fall/winter 2013 advertising campaign featuring the star alongside his sons Lukas and Micah.

Watch Willie Nelson and family perform:

Soon you can channel the style of the inhaling icon. Plans are in the works to open“Willie’s Reserve” stores in 2016, which will carry his own strains of marijauna as well as like-minded products “reflective of his passion” in each recreationally legal state.