Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

Willie Nelson gives back masks, autographed

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

HOUSTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – While making face masks to give out during the coronavirus pandemic, a Texas resident said she also wanted to send some to country music legend Willie Nelson and his wife.

However, as KTRK reports, Nelson decided to pay it forward by, instead, signing those face masks so that the resident could auction them off and use the money for materials to make more masks.

Houston resident Tanya Boike started making masks with the help of a local nurse, Monica Cabazos, as restrictions were being put into place by government officials to stop the spread of COVID-19. So far, they’ve made and given out over 500 masks.

“I remembered about us as a community during Harvey and the flooding we had. I said, everybody was helping each other,” Cabazos said.

Boike told KTRK she met Nelson’s granddaughter, Noelle Ward, several years ago and wanted to send some face masks to the 86-year-old singer and his wife. After sending them, Boike got quite the surprise.

“[Noelle] texted me a few minutes later and said ‘pops would rather sign these and have them auction them off. That way you can get more materials and keep making these masks for free.’ I just lost it. That’s not what I had made them for,” Boike said.

Ward said that’s just how her grandfather is.

Willie Nelson defines American Music

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

photo: Robert Mora/Getty Images
by: Edward Norris

Willie Nelson grew to greatness while country music was also maturing as a distinct art form. He was born in 1933, a month before Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music died, and the same year Bob Wills formed the Texas Playboys. Nelson’s arrival into the world came a decade before the Carter Family disbanded and Ernest Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Born in Abbott, Texas and raised by his paternal grandparents, Nelson was learning the guitar and writing songs before he reached his teens. He would go on to become one of the most recorded and recognizable figures in the history of American music, regardless of genre. Along the way he would record 70 studio albums, 33 live albums, 25 albums with other artists, and soundtracks for movies he appeared or starred in. The number of singles he’s done for and with other artists are beyond counting.

Between 1962, when he charted his first single, and 2000, by which time his chart appearances as a singles artist had become rare, Nelson charted 117 songs.

Here’s a quick look at the Old Master’s contributions, honors and impacts during eight decades.

The 1950s

Nelson plays in local bands, books artists, promotes shows, and works as a DJ at stations in Texas and Vancouver, Washington. In 1957, he releases “No Place for Me,” his first self-written, self-recorded and self-promoted single. It’s issued under the Willie Nelson Records label. Embedded from

The 1960s

In 1960, Nelson moves to Nashville and signs his first publishing deal. He begins getting major cuts from prominent country artists. Faron Young has a No. 1 in 1961 with “Hello Walls.” Billy Walker takes “Funny How Time Slips Away” to No. 23 the same year. Patsy Cline rings up a No. 2 with “Crazy,” also in 1961.

Nelson signs with Liberty Records in 1962 and proceeds to have a Top 10 that year with “Willingly,” a song recorded with his future wife, Shirley Collie. He does even better with his next single, “Touch Me,” his own composition, which rises to No. 7. That will be his biggest chart success as a recording act for the rest of the decade. But he has accumulated enough stature to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1964. Embedded from

The 1970s

This is the decade that Nelson develops into full bloom. Chastened by his lack of success as a recording artist in Nashville, Nelson moves back to Texas, where he gradually evolves from the clean-cut, turtle-neck wearing dandy into the hippie persona he will inhabit for the rest of his life.

He stages the first of his cross-cultural music festivals July 4, 1973, in Dripping Springs, Texas. In 1975, he releases his bare bones concept album, Red Headed Stranger (which producer Billy Sherrill described as sounding like “a bad demo”). It becomes a big hit and yields Nelson — by now 44 years old — his first No. 1 single, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” The landmark song also nets him his first Grammy. Embedded from
The next year, RCA, Nelson’s former label, assembles an album of formerly unreleased tracks by Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jennings’ wife Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser of the Glaser Brothers. It’s titled Wanted! The Outlaws and launches the “outlaw” movement.

With future classics like “Good Hearted Woman,” it not only romanticizes Waylon & Willie, but inspires other artists to exert more control over the music they record, including writing or choosing the songs and, often, recording with their own bands rather than with studio musicians. The project becomes country’s first platinum album. Embedded from
Nelson turns out six more No. 1s during the 1970s, two of them with Jennings. In 1978, with his recording success to give him leverage, Nelson records an entire album of pop songs he’d loved in his youth — Stardust. It, too, becomes a bestseller and stays on the country chart for 10 years!

Nelson becomes something of a movie star in 1979 via his supporting role in the Robert Redford-Jane Fonda film, The Electric Horseman. By the end of the decade, he has a total of three Grammys on his shelf, all for his vocal performances. Embedded from

The 1980s

This might be described as the “Willie & Me” decade because it’s bursting with duet efforts. During it, he records albums with Ray Price, Roger Miller, Webb Pierce, Waylon Jennings (2), Merle Haggard (2), Kris Kristofferson, Faron Young and Hank Snow.

Then there are his collaborative No. 1 hits: “Just to Satisfy You” (with Jennings), “Pancho and Lefty” (Haggard), “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” (Julio Iglesias), “Seven Spanish Angels” (Ray Charles), “Highwayman” (Jennings, Kristofferson, Johnny Cash) and “Mind Your Own Business” (Hank Williams Jr., Reba McEntire, Tom Petty, Reverend Ike). Embedded from
May of his own solo hits during this era are now considered classics: “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” “On the Road Again,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” and “Always on My Mind,” to name a few.

Concerned about the number of American family farms going into bankruptcy, Nelson co-founds Farm Aid in 1985. Except for two years, it has been held annually ever since, always with Nelson co-headlining it. Nelson also acts in several movies during the 1980s, notably Honeysuckle Rose (1980), Barbarossa (1982), The Songwriter (1984) and Red Headed Stranger (1987). He adds three more Grammys to his collection, including the President’s Merit Award in 1986. Embedded from

The 1990s

Talk about emotional extremes! Discovering that his accountants have failed to pay his taxes, Nelson begins the ’90s deep in debt and stripped of most of his assets. With typical resourcefulness, he sits down with just his guitar and records the ironically titled 1991 album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? It doesn’t settle his debt, but it helps, and it nets him tons of useful publicity.

Then, only two years later, he’s inducted the Country Music Hall of Fame. Among the 14 studio albums he turns out during this decade are two with his piano-playing sister, Bobbie Nelson: the gospel collection How Great Thou Art and Hill Country Christmas. Embedded from
His choice of material ranges from Paul Simon’s “Graceland” on 1992’s Across the Borderline to his own self-written, self-produced tracks on 1996’s Spirit. In 1999, he turns to producer Daniel Lanois to create the more musically adventurous collection, Teatro, with Emmylou Harris guesting. It features several of Nelson’s earlier but less known compositions.

The 2000s

Nelson begins the new century receiving a lifetime achievement Grammy, then collects another Grammy for “Mendocino County Line,” a duet with Lee Ann Womack. In 2003, he and Ray Price release the album Run That By Me One More Time. The same year, he joins admirer Toby Keith for the single “Beer For My Horses,” which promptly gallops into No. 1. Embedded from
SiriusXM rebrands its classic country station in 2006 from Hank’s Place to Willie’s Place (and, in 2011, Willie’s Roadhouse). Nelson, Price and Merle Haggard return to the studio to record the poignant 2007 collection Last of the Breed, with its pensive track “Lost Highway” winning a Grammy.

In 2009, Nelson tips his hat to fellow Texan and Hall of Fame songwriter with the tribute album You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker. In a more lively turn, he teams up in 2009 with the western swing band Asleep at the Wheel to pump out Willie and the Wheel. As he periodically does, he returns to the Great American Songbook for his final album of the decade, American Classics. It features guest appearances by Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Embedded from
The 2010s

Nelson continues to try his hand with new producers and new backup musicians in 2010 when he pairs with T. Bone Burnett for the album Country Music. (Burnett had worked his career-revivalist wonders earlier in the decade with Ralph Stanley.) The album digs deep in the traditional country repertoire to spotlight such great perennials as “Dark as a Dungeon,” “Freight Train Boogie,” “House of Gold” and “I Am a Pilgrim.”

Nelson reunites with Merle Haggard in 2015 for Django & Jimmie, a loving tribute to Nelson’s idol, the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and Haggard’s chief inspiration, Jimmie Rodgers. Haggard dies the following year. Two albums earn Nelson best traditional pop vocal Grammys: Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin (2016) and My Way (2018), his hat-doffing to the songs of Frank Sinatra. Embedded from

The 2020s

Earlier this year, Nelson won his 10th career Grammy Award for the title track of his 2019 album, Ride Me Back Home, in the category of best country solo performance. He promises his 70th studio album for July 2020, First Rose of Spring. It rings out with such eternals as “I’ll Break Out Again Tonight,” “Just Bummin’ Around,” “I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised” and “Yesterday When I Was Young.”

Willie Nelson IS American music — and he’s got the records to prove it.

Willie Nelson & Family at the Houston Rodeo

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
by: Georgie Ferrell

From the moment the Houston Rodeo head honchos trotted in on a brigade of horses led by flags of each branch of the Armed Services and the American flag, Willie Nelson night flooded the the air with patriotism. Nelson’s RodeoHouston return coincided with Armed Forces Appreciation Night, drawing members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force to a packed NRG stadium.

The patriotic and lively crowd (70,479 strong for Willie) anxiously awaited the appropriately picked music giant to take the Lone Star Stage as barrel racers and bull riders contested their skills on the dirt. America’s Country Music legend was the perfect serenading star to celebrate a crowd of real American heroes.

Nelson hasn’t made an appearance at the Houston Rodeo since 2017 and before that it had been 13 years since he graced the grand Rodeo stage. Wednesday night’s show marked his 11th RodeoHouston appearance overall — and Nelson made sure it was a memorable one.

After a long standing ovation for those who serve, fireworks burst in the air and elite combat soldiers breathtakingly descended down from the NRG ceiling — and the real anticipation reached a crescendo.

A harmonica started to chime as the giant venue remained dark until finally the sound of a center stage Willie belting out “Whiskey River” ignited the stadium lights and roaring crowd. With his signature braids under a straw cowboy hat and his signature inflecting twang as authentic as ever, the 86-year-old Nelson went to work. His hands nimbly strummed his famously worn out guitar Trigger, his musical sidekick for more than 50 years.

It seemed like a classic night’s jam session for the Willie Nelson & Family crew.

Willie casually transitioned from hit song to hit song with a pause to thank the crowd and a “Do one for Waylon” to kick off “Good Hearted Woman” which turned the spotlight over to his piano playing sister. Bobbie Lee Nelson showed off her ivory tickling talent while her proud big brother strummed in the background and beamed to the crowd about “little sister” being inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

Nelson then introduced his son Lukas, the long haired guitarist to his left who took it away as he belted out a bluesy rendition of “Texas Flood.” With a tip of Lukas’ trucker hat, which read “American Agriculture,” dad took back over for “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys…”

A nod to Merle Haggard followed as Nelson sang “It’s All Going to Pot.” The long-toking troubadour (apparently, he gave it up in December due to breathing issues) continued his celebration of marijuana with “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

After another pause of appreciation to the cheering crowd, Nelson led his family band in more songs that paid homage to fellow music pioneer friends such as Hank Williams.

Willie Nelson performs at the Son of the Cosmic Cowboy concert at Hofheinz Pavillion in Houston, June 22, 1975. ©1975, 2020 F. Carter Smith

As Willie began his last songs, an Americana take on hymns “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away,” a Nobel Prize winning Houstonian, Dr. Jim Allison, popped up on stage to play harmonica with the set. Allison’s documentary Breakthrough, which details his pioneering immunotherapy research and his fight to cure cancer, boasts music by his now close friend Willie.

As Nelson raised Trigger to the crowd and shouted “Thank y’all very much!! Y’all have a great evening, we love you,” he winced a bit in exhaustion. Its only natural that a nearly 87-year-old legend would grow a bit weary after a heartfelt salute to Houston, but he ended strong as he sang out another powerful chorus before bowing to the crowd and casually sauntering off the stage into a shiny black SUV.

The showman who shows no signs of slowing down, shares the Rodeo’s passion for agriculture. Nelson is known for his longtime support of American farmland and the fruits of the amber waves of grain — and it’s clear he also was eager to champion America’s soldiers.

There is still only one Willie Nelson. Even after all these years.

Willie Nelson & Family at the Houston Rodeo (3/4/2020)

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
Photo: John Shapley
by: Joey Guerra

Willie Nelson makes every Rodeo Houston show feel like the first time

Willie Nelson could — and often does — play multiple shows a year in the Houston-area. And it’s a must-see performance every time.

The country legend turns 87 next month and could have long ago hung up his hat with his head held high. There’s nothing left to prove and no one near his stature.

photo: John Shapley See lots more photos here.

But Nelson, who performed Wednesday night for a crowd of 70,479 at RodeoHouston, isn’t done with us yet. His 11th spin on the rotating stage was (another) study in subtle, steady showmanship.

After a few seconds of tuning, Nelson and his band kicked off with a jangly take on “Whiskey River.” Many of the songs — “Still is Still Moving to Me,” “Beer for my Horses” — sat at the same tempo. And when you’re Willie, that’s perfectly OK.Rhe show was also a family affair. Sister Bobbie Nelson was on piano, and son Lukas Nelson took a solo turn on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood.”

“Let’s do one for Waylon!” Nelson shouted as he launched into “Good Hearted Woman.”

The setlist moved through his usual assortment of songs, all classics. And it’s to Nelson’s credit that he manages moments that are surprising. Even set closer “Will the Circle be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away” felt inspired.

He yelped “Mamma!” throughout “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” And the wry, witty trio of “It’s all Going to Pot” (more timely than ever), “Roll Me Up” and “Still Not Dead” was a highlight.

Nelson kicked things up with “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Jambalaya,” creating a noticeable swell in crowd energy. Just as quickly, he went wistful with “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” inspired a singalong during “On the Road Again” and delivered “It’s Hard to be Humble” with a knowing wink.

When Nelson launched into “Always on My Mind,” it sent a hush over the crowd. He raised his arm into the air during the choruses as the crowd listened intently, respectfully. It earned him the biggest reaction of the night.

He paused for a minute and waved with both hands to the crowd before descending offstage, slipping on a jacket and shaking a few hands. A black SUV whisked him away. And you can bet he’ll be back soon.

Joey Guerra is the music critic for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter. He will be covering every single RodeoHouston concert.

Willie Nelson & Family in Redding (January 11, 2020)

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Willie Nelson & Family at the Fillmore (Jan. 6th, 7th, 8th, 2020)

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020
photo: Nick Buckmaster
by: Alexander Baechle

SAN FRANCISCO — An eclectic audience turned up at the Fillmore Wednesday to witness country superstar Willie Nelson perform the second of three sold-out nights in the City.

Nelson took to the stage with an assured wave to the crowd and launched into a spirited “Whiskey River.” Nelson was fully engaged and his guitar fingers stayed true. The strings did the talking on second song “Still Is Still Moving To Me.” He raked crunchy, bristly post-structural blues out of his old beat-up acoustic guitar, Trigger, as the band charged along behind him. The guitar phrasing was so jarring it seemed almost disjointed; but Nelson led the band with aplomb, teasing chaos in a neat bit of instrumental navigation.

On hits like “Good-Hearted Woman” and “On The Road Again,” Nelson invited audience participation. For key lines of some choruses, he leaned back and put his right hand up to his ear, as if to say “I can’t hear you.” Sometimes the audience rewarded him by finishing the couplet in a shout-along. At other moments fans fumbled and mumbled – caught up, apparently, in the good-time romp of the rhythm section.

Nelson waved away such trifling miscues. His direct lyrics and conversational singing voice underpinned an arresting performance on “Good-Hearted Woman.” The 86-year-old alertly kept his eyes moving about the room, and the crowd was roused to sing along. Though he appeared tired during brief moments away from the mic, Nelson’s subtle, intricate guitar playing and inviting voice never dimmed.

Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson served as first mate at his dad’s right side. With the full focus of the band behind him, the younger Nelson reached deep for a showcase early on, taking lead vocal and guitar duties on a Stevie-Ray-Vaughan-tinged workout. The smoky, soul-scraping venture into lounge blues centered on a throaty vocal and overdriven guitar leads. Meanwhile the elder Nelson hung back in the groove.

Willie Nelson & Family, Amarillo, TX (January 5, 2012)

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

photo:  Michael Norris
by Chip Chandler

In today’s Get Out! column, I bemoan the lack of really big concerts coming to town in the first half of this year.

But if last night’s Willie Nelson concert is the last great one we get all year even, I can’t complain.

Nelson was in fantastic shape last night, flying down the highways and byways of his career, hitting most of the expected highlights and taking a couple of fascinating detours.

He brought with him a tight band — “the whole damn family,” he cracked at one point: Son Lukas on lead guitar, son Micah on snare drum, sister Bobbi on piano, longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and a guest appearance by longtime percussionist Paul English (who suffered a stroke a couple of years ago) on a couple of songs. Paul’s son Billy moved over from snare to bass, filling in, for now, for the late Bee Spears. Daughter Amy Lee Nelson even came out at the end of the show to sing harmony.

They all kept up phenomenally with Nelson, whose singing darted and slid and slipped around the words of his songs, stripping everything down to the bare essentials. Nelson’s guitar playing was, if anything, stronger than ever (or maybe I could just hear it better this time).

The highlights: A rolling jazz version of “Me and Bobby McGee,” tender and spare versions of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and “Always on My Mind” and a couple  crowdpleasing newer tunes, “I Ain’t Superman” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

Willie Country (December 1986)

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Willie Country
By Don Holland

Howdy!  Willie Nelson came to Abbott on Wednesday, December 3, and it was not so long  before he was surrounded by a lot of friends and fans who turned out to greet him.  Willie was accompanied by his sister Bobbie who plays the piano when they perform with the band.  They had come to Abbott to shoot some publicity photos to be used on the cover of a gospel music album that will be released in the future.  The reason why they came to Abbott is to have the photos taken in front of the Methodist Church that Willie and Bobbie attended when growing up here in Abbott.

Willie and Bobbie were dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meeting finest.  You can see for yourself how sharp they looked in the photos that have been placed on various pagers of the paper.


Rev. Wayne Dunson, the present preacher at the Methodist Church, is the same one that preached there when Willie and Bobbie attended in their youth.  He was in the area when Willie and Bobbie showed up and asked me to take a photo of him and Willie.  “But, he whispered in my ear, I need to go over and change my coat before you take the picture.  I don’t think it would look right with Willie looking more like a preacher than I do.”


Yours truly really enjoyed seeing Willie in Abbott.  He had come through town several times during the past month or so and I was always out of town and missed him.  Again, true to form, I was out of town, but Jan got on the telephone and had me located in Waco.  My brother Ben found me as the screen printers where I was picking up some new T-shirts of Willie as the Red Headed Stranger, and got the message to me.  I returned to Abbott immediately and was able to get the photos that you see in this issue.


While chatting with Willie, I asked him whether the movie entitled “The Red Headed Stranger” would be released.  He said, “Plans are made to release it February 19, 1987.”  So all of you fans stay on the lookout for the movie and remember you can get tee shirts and pictures of Willie as the Red Headed Stranger right here through the Souvenir Shop, either in person or by mail order.

Some of you no doubt read about the Susie Nelson Show that we had booked at the VFW Club in Cameron, Texas, this past November 15th.  The show was very successful as the folks there enjoyed the music and singing of our stars Susie Nelson and her band and Chris Robbins with Stagecoach Symphony.

Several phoots that I took are included in thgis issue (page 7) for your eyeballs’ pleasure.  Enjoy!  Also, we appreciated a big fan of Willie’s coming to the show — Ann Willis of Temple.  Ann showed me a lot of photos that she has taken around the countryside and we will try to run some of them in future editions.

Other recent visitors to Willie Nelson Country have come from Robards, Kentucky, Prag, Oklahoma; St. Joseph, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Battle Creek, Michigan; Judsonia Arkansas; Jacksonville, Illionois; and Dallas, Garland, Red Oak, Mesquite, Austin, San Antonio, Temple Branson, Corsicana, Crossroads and Springtown, TX.  Coming the longest distance was Lucas Wegmann from Newcastle, Main.  We really enjoy meeting and visiting with Willie’s fans from all over the country!


The business of Being Willie Nelson (Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1986)

Monday, November 25th, 2019

photo:  Ron McKeown.

November 25, 1986
By Wes Smith

After completing 115 holes of video golf in little more than 9 hours, executive W.H. Nelson put aside his toys and directed the driver of his mobile office to roll.

As chief executive officer of Red-headed Stranger Ltd., president of Farm Aid Inc., owner of the Pedernales Country Club, board member for the United Theological Seminary and honorary “Man of the Year“ for the United Jewish Appeal, it was time for Nelson to entertain a client or two, or three- or four-thousand

“My portfolio?” asked the boss with a toss of his auburn pony-tail. “I never wear one.”

There is no business like the business of being Willie Nelson. By no stretch of the headband is Nelson a baron of Wall Street. But with an annual income estimated conservatively at $15 million, Nelson himself is a big business deal.

Since “Williemania” struck in full force in the late 1970s, Nelson, 53, has become a one-man entertainment industry. He is a successful singer-songwriter-actor-author-record and movie-producer and Farm Aid fund-raiser. Look for his autobiography (“I wanted to do it before someone else did it”) and his own brand of soup to be introduced in coming months.

Although royalties from his songs pay Nelson enough for a comfortable life, record sales are now his main producer of revenue. His “Stardust”
album is still on the charts after seven years and climbing again as result of compact disc sales. Two of Nelson`s albums have sold more than 3 million copies, three albums sold more than a million and 10 albums sold more than 500,000. He now gets $1 million for recording an album with CBS records plus 35 percent of sales.

To promote the album sales, and because he easily gets stir crazy, Nelson tours about nine months of the year, bringing in another $12 million annually. From that he nets about $6 million before his personal expenses. Last August, he signed a $7 million, three-year contract that allowed Blue Bell Inc., the maker of Wrangler jeans, to promote 100 of Nelson`s concerts annually and hand out front-seat tickets to Wrangler denim dealers at the shows, said Paul English, Nelson`s business manager, longtime friend and drummer.

Willie & Family, as the band is known, travel in four or five customized buses with two truckloads of equipment trailing behind. The Willie Nelson road show is a family operation with a country store flavor. Nelson shares his bus, the mahogany-paneled “Honeysuckle Rose,“ with his older sister Connie, who plays keyboards. English`s son, Darnell, is assistant road manager on the tour, and Billy English, Paul`s brother, is a percussionist. Most members of the band and road crew–which total about 30 including the T-shirt hawkers –have been with Nelson at least 10 years.

While Nelson uses his computer keyboard to play video golf for hours on end while touring, his road manager, lanky, long-haired David Anderson, takes care of the payroll, day-to-day logistics and communications for the tour on his own personal computer.

Anderson is a native of Park Ridge, Ill. (“We moved when I was 28-days-old.“) The 30-year-old road manager must fold his 6-foot-4 frame into a cramped workspace not much larger than a doghouse. His mobile office, tucked in a space under a bunk bed, is packed with an IBM XT personal computer and printer, a check writer, a 3M Fax machine, a Cannon copier, a modular phone system and an Uzi submachine gun “for security reasons.”

Willie Nelson: The Pride of Texas

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

photo:  Christ Vest
by: Gladys Fuentes

God bless Willie Nelson. Anyone who can put as much gusto and authenticity as he does into anything deserves nothing but praise. Nelson is the patron saint of quality country music and good times, and has never been known to skimp on either. Monday night at Smart Financial Centre was no exception.

Throughout the evening, Nelson navigated his familiar fretboard on Trigger with an ease that can only come after so many years together. Though he has been come to be known for changing up his traditional solos for more jazzy, Django Reinhart-inspired incarnations, Nelson continues to produce his unmistakable sound, equally made up of the man and his acoustic guitar.

Nelson has no shortage of material either written by him or songs impossible to dissociate from the man himself. He never strays from opening with his old friend Johnny Bush’s. “Whiskey River,” pairing the opening chords with the release of the biggest Texas flag outside of highway adjacent car dealerships.

Throughout Nelson’s show, he managed to pay homage to old friends and fellow music legends, dedicating a portion of his set list to Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver and the heartbroken king of Country himself, Hank Williams.

Nelson and his band seemed to be communicating on a higher plane, through effortless glances and nods.  The band has been with him for an impressive amount of time; with his sister Bobbie Nelson always behind her grand piano and Mickey Raphael’s harmonica serving as the back up singer to Nelson’s vocals.

Nelson spends most of his time on tour and his set lists haven’t varied much in the past, despite releasing new material every year.  He managed to balance out tried and true sing alongs like “Beer For My Horses” with newer, instant classics, like “It’s All Going to Pot”; both songs with lyrics relevant to the times we live in.

He only played one song from this year’s release, Ride Me Back Home, the tongue-in-cheek cover, “Hard to Be Humble.” Nelson winked to the crowd as he sang “Something to do with the way that I fill out my skin tight jeans.”

A man of few words onstage, Nelson went from hit to hit, always encouraging audience participation. Nelson took everyone to church with his closing number, the medley “Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away”.

Set List:

Whiskey River
Still Is Still Moving to Me
Beer For My Horses
Good Hearted Woman
Down Yonder (Bobbie Nelson Instrumental)
If You’ve Got the Money
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground
On the Road Again
Always on My Mind
Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
Hey, Good Lookin’
Guitar instrumental
It’s All Going to Pot
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
Georgia On a Fast Train
It’s Hard to Be Humble
Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away

Willie Nelson & Loretta Lynn hang out at the CMA’s

Saturday, November 16th, 2019
lorettalynnofficial's profile picture
I had the best time at CMA Country Music Association Awards last night. It was so good to see so many of my friends. I loved catching up with my buddy Willie Nelson!”
by: Iesha Mae Thomas

The CMA Awards always brings the country music community together, and after the 2019 awards show on Wednesday Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson took some time to hang out and catch up. On his tour bus. No big deal.

Lynn posted the photo above to her Instagram, saying, “I had the best time at CMA Country Music Association Awards last night. It was so good to see so many of my friends. I loved catching up with my buddy Willie Nelson!”

Nelson, 86, performed “Rainbow Connection” during the 2019 CMA Awards broadcast with Kacey Musgraves, who took home the award for Female Vocalist and Music Video of the Year. It was his first performance on the show since 2012.

Lynn made a surprise appearance at the ceremony, which took place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The 87-year-old is a rare sighting these days, following a stroke in 2017, and a fall that broke her hip in 2018.

Although Lynn didn’t perform on an evening that highlighted the historical contributions women have made to country music, she was honored by a group of female artists who performed an opening medley that featured her song, “You’re Looking at Country.”

Lynn was the first female artist to win Entertainer of the Year, taking home the CMA’s top honor in 1972. Garth Brooks won Entertainer of the Year for the seventh time in 2019, marking the third time he has held the title in the last four years.

Willie Nelson & Family at Billy Bob’s for the 57th time

Friday, November 15th, 2019
by: Ken Molestina

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s hard to think about country music especially in Texas without thinking about Willie Nelson.

The 86-year-old has created quite the frenzy for fans trying to score the hottest ticket in town to see him play at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth Friday night.

Willie Nelson performs during the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert to benefit United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on July 6, 2013 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Shock Ink)

Pam Minick, the marketing director at Billy Bob’s said good luck trying to get into the show if you don’t already have a ticket.

“This concert went on sale back in August and reserved seats were gone in 15 minutes,” she said.

Fans are expected to pack the 6,000-person capacity honky tonk to get a glimpse of Willie Nelson and sing along to his songs.

Jessica Mills traveled from Canada to see him.

She said she realizes his career may be coming to an end soon and wanted to see him in person once more.

We wouldn’t want to see Willie Nelson hang up his hat for the last time without having the opportunity to see him,” said Mills.

Friday night’s show will be the country music icon’s 57th time performing at Billy Bob’s.

Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves duet at 2019 CMA Awards

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019
by: Jon Freeman

A group of new performers and surprise collaborators spanning genres and generations has been added to the lineup of the 2019 CMA Awards. The annual event takes place Wednesday, November 13th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Kacey Musgraves, who claimed the CMA’s Album of the Year prize for Golden Hour at the 2018 show, will share the stage with Country Music Hall of Fame member Willie Nelson. The two previously collaborated on a cover of Nelson’s “Are You Sure” that was secretly tacked on to the end of Musgraves’ album Pageant Material.

Additional collaborations will include Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton, who appear together on Brooks’ current single “Dive Bar”; Brooks & Dunn and Brothers Osborne, who sang “Hard Workin’ Man” together on this year’s Reboot; and Lady Antebellum with pop star Halsey. Also newly added to the lineup are solo performances from Kelsea Ballerini, Dan + Shay, Old Dominion, and Thomas Rhett.

They join previously announced performers including Eric Church, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Maren Morris, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood. Other collaborations on the show will include Pink and Chris Stapleton, along with Dolly Parton joined by For King & Country and Zach Williams.

The 53rd annual CMA Awards, hosted by Carrie Underwood with Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, will air live November 13th at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Willie Nelson in Las Vegas

Friday, October 25th, 2019
Story and photo by Terence J. Fitzwater

I went to Las Vegas to be a Parrot Head over the weekend.

Instead, I came home having had an epiphany about Willie Nelson and his legacy in music. Now he is “Always on My Mind.” After what I experienced in Las Vegas on Friday night, it is crystal clear to me that Willie Nelson is the greatest country singer in the history of country western music. The sheer size, scope and depth of the man and his music not only begs for him to be considered the greatest of all time, but the record demands it.

To some of you, that may seem obvious. He started singing and playing music over 60 years ago. In the 1950s he was writing classic country songs like “Crazy” for the legendary Patsy Cline and “Hello Walls” among others. His legendary songs, his leading role in popularizing Outlaw Country and then performing with the seminal Highway Men is known to everyone.

What we have seen and witnessed is an amazing history of growth, production and musical metamorphosis unmatched in the annals of country music. We have witnessed Willie Nelson first-hand for over six decades. We have watched and chronicled the transformation and growth of Willie Nelson from a raw and unproven disc jockey in Pleasanton, Texas to the megastar legend he is today. It is unfathomable to comprehend this robust career with all its twists, turns and layers.

This man has evolved into more than just a country music singer and song writer. He likes jazz, the blues, blue grass and all forms of music. He is a big Frank Sinatra fan. But what I didn’t know is how well he can the sing the blues. I found out he is a master blues singer on Friday night.

What we are witnessing right now is the life and times of a legend. We shall never see the likes of a Willie Nelson again.

Read article here.

Willie Nelson & Family at the Big Fresno Fair (October 14, 2019)

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
Country music legend Willie Nelson, wearing a Fresno State t-shirt, performs to a sell out crowd at the Paul Paul Theater during the last night of the Big Fresno Fair, Monday night, Oct. 14, 2019.
Country music legend Willie Nelson and band perform to a sell out crowd at the Paul Paul Theater during the last night of the Big Fresno Fair, Monday night, Oct. 14, 2019.

1 Country music legend Willie Nelson, wearing a Fresno State t-shirt, performs to a sell out crowd at the Paul Paul Theater during the last night of the Big Fresno Fair, Monday night, Oct. 14, 2019. (John Walker)
by: Joshua Tehee

Willie Nelson offered a history lesson during his concert Monday on the closing night of The Big Fresno Fair.

At 86 years old, the country music icon has been performing since the late 1950s. So, most of his catalog for the night, except 2003’s Toby Keith duet “Beer for My Horses,” was written at least 40 years ago.

Then he dipped into some Hank Williams covers. “Move it On Over” was first recorded in 1947.
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The hour-long concert was a reminder of a time before pop stars and arena tours when the power of performance wasn’t set by stage production, light design or backing track, but by how well the players on stage could deliver a song.

Read rest of article here.