Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

Farm Aid 2017 Rocks Pittsburgh

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

John Mellencamp performs during Farm Aid in Burgettstown, Washington County Saturday night.

photo:  Steph Chambers
by:  Scott Mervis

The last Farm Aid in Pittsburgh, just a year after 9/11, had an air of nationalistic aggression with Kid Rock and Toby Keith both on board, the latter doing his boot-in-the-you-know-where anthem “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American).”

Farm Aid 2017 on Saturday at the KeyBank Pavilion was more of a lovefest with lots of camaraderie, a couple blasts of hard rock and a sprinkling of artists who define the word laidback.

Among them was Jack Johnson, making his first appearance in these parts since 2002. The surfer-turned-folk-rocker from Hawaii said backstage that he was going to try to lure some other artists up on stage, and he succeeded, getting Sheryl CrowNathaniel Rateliff and Jamey Johnson up there for Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and the Avett Brothers to play some “Mudfootball” with him.

That’s how the day went at the Pavilion — lots of spontaneity for a hard-drinking, sold-out crowd of more than 23,000 who missed some of the early afternoon highlights, like Nelson’s son Lukas getting alt-country newcomer Margo Price up on stage to do “Find Yourself” with his band Promise of the Real. That was after his brother Micah delivered one of the more “out there” sets with his LA psych-rock band Insects vs. Robots.


Willie Nelson greets the crowd during Farm Aid, Saturday, at KeyBank Pavilion,
Scott Mervis
Farm Aid stars come to a positive message and a warning

Price returned to swap harmonies with Crow on “Strong Enough.” Crow’s energetic, hit-filled set — “Every Day is a Winding Road,” “My Favorite Mistake,” etc. — climaxed with Lukas, Willie and Jack Johnson joining her to pay tribute to Gregg Allman on “Midnight Rider,” ending in a screaming guitar jam.

Not many people saw Valerie June, which is too bad because the charming singer from Memphis seemed as organic as the crops, doing her version of Southern soul. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats had a more scenery-shredding approach to soul and blues, and Blackberry Smoke lit up the Pavilion with some scorching Southern rock.

Country traditionalist Jamey Johnson was in a mood for classics from fallen artists, applying a baritone deep as a well to The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek,” Don Williams’ “Some Tears Will Never Mend,” Little Feat’s “Willin’,” Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

The Avetts, playing Farm Aid and the Pavilion for the first time, made the amphitheater feel smaller than it was, creating an intimacy with the crowd on favorite Avett “hits” like “Laundry Room,” “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” and “Talk on Indolence.” Jack Johnson mellowed things down in the late afternoon with his acoustic island folk, delivering one of the day’s comical highlights with “Willie Got Me Stoned and Took All My Money.”

Matthews, who took a rare summer off from touring with the DMB, did his traditional duo set with longtime sidekick Tim Reynolds, demonstrating how loud and forceful two acoustic guitars and one voice can be. They started with an intense “Don’t Drink the Water,” sung through gritted teeth, and moved through the more delicate “Satellite” and “Mercy” and a furious “What Would You Say.” Matthews also introduced a passionate new song, possibly called “Odds Are Against Us,” that could turn up on that album he talked about releasing next year.

“I don’t know if I was ready,” he said, after playing it, “but too late now.”


Teryn Adkins, 5, shows a plant to Sarah Buranskas during a tour Friday of Kretschmann Organic Farm near Zelienople.
Daniel Moore
Farm Aid spotlights Appalachian farms to shun development and focus on food

John Mellencamp, looking like a preacher all in black, did one of the more topical and hard-hitting sets of the day, hitting the stage with full band doing a rollicking “Lawless Times,” before taking the crowd to a more familiar place with “Small Town.” He promised a variety of songs and delivered that with a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway,” a jubilant “Check it Out” and a solo acoustic sing-along on one of his biggest radio hits.

“I don’t even know why I play this song,” he said, introducing “Jack & Diane.” “I only play this song ’cause I know you guys want to hear it.”

It turned into loose, messy fun.

The new song “Easy Target” was the darkest of the day, with him spitting out the words, “So black lives matter/ Who we trying to kid? Here’s an easy target/ Don’t matter, never did.” “Rain on the Scarecrow” cut right to the heart of Farm Aid, as did a finale of the Americana classic “Pink Houses.”

Young, who has been woefully scarce in 2017, was not gonna go quietly into the night. He came out with “Promise of the Real” in vintage Godfather of Grunge form, roaring through “F—ing Up.” A gorgeous “Cortez the Killer” came with a smoldering intro almost as long as some of the day’s early sets, and “Cinnamon Girl” was a blast of heavy rawk the rowdy crowd seemed to crave.

He stopped to thank the fans for coming to Farm Aid and tell them, “Farmers are the American heroes today. They’re living a real life.”

Young strapped on a harmonica (to a big cheer) and shifted into acoustic mode for “Human Highway,” “Heart of Gold” and “Comes A Time,” his voice sounding as strong and pretty as it ever did. He and POTR closed back in wild Crazy Horse mode, rumbling through “Like a Hurricane” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

One of the downsides of Farm Aid is you want another hour of that. In any case, people will be talking about that being the best hour of music they saw all year.

Willie’s set, closing out Farm Aid — and the KeyBank season with it — had its own kind of grandeur and ragged glory, starting with the traditional “Whiskey River” and “Still is Still Moving to Me.” He rolled quickly through some country staples, including “Beer for My Horses” and “Good Hearted Woman” (”one for Waylon,” he said). Johnson (Jamey, not Jack) took the Merle Haggard part on the comical “It’s All Going to Pot.”

Willie and the Family took it to church with a choir that included Crow, June and the Avetts on “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away,” and Lukas belted out the blues on a sprawling jam through “Texas Flood.” They put a bow on the 32nd Farm Aid with a spirited run through “I Saw the Light,” a song that plenty of farm folk will be hearing, at varied tempos, at church on Sunday morning.

Willie Nelson & Family in Sioux City, Iowa

Monday, September 11th, 2017
by:  Al Sturgeon

Woke up still not dead again today.

The internet said I had passed away.

But if I die and I wasn’t dead to stay

and I woke up not dead again today.

“Still Not Dead” by Willie Nelson

Not only is 84-year-old Willie Nelson not “dead again today,” he is thriving and touring across the country, including a recent stop at Sioux City’s Hard Rock Casino.

But Nelson is not alone. More and more older Americans are starting to realize that age 65 is not a final destination after a long work life, but a transition to new opportunities and experience including continued work and productivity. Much of this, of course, is being driven by the baby-boomer generation which is in the midst of retirement age and the critical decisions that come with it. It is interesting to note that 2016 presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were in their 70s, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

As a member of the baby-boomer generation (DOB: 2/14/56 … “mama’s little valentine”), I’ve often looked at the claims of the boomers’ longer lives with a great deal of skepticism. It seemed to me much of this was about denial. You’ve heard the slogans like “60 is the new 50″ and “50 is the new middle age” (if you live to be 100).

But a recent report in the Economist magazine, “The New Old” (July 8, 2017), really dispels a lot of myths about the traditional three-stage life cycle paradigm of education, work and retirement at age 65. The article points out that at least in Western societies there is a new stage of life emerging between the 65-year-old milestone and the onset of old age as it used to be understood – “the new old.”

According to the report, today’s 65-year-olds are in much better shape then their grandparents were at the same age. In America today, a 70-year old man has a 2 percent chance of dying within a year; in 1940, that projection would have been at just age 56. The average 65-year-old in the “rich” world (as the Economist calls it) can now expect to live for another 20 years, 10 of them free of disability.


Wake N Bake Donuts celebrate Willie Nelson’s visit to Wilmington

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017


A Carolina Beach doughnut business is capitalizing on an opportunity to make a unique treat instead of letting the chance go up in smoke.

Wake N Bake Donuts is making special doughnuts in honor of country music star Willie Nelson, who is scheduled to play at The Shell in downtown Wilmington on Tuesday night.

The cheesecake filled creations are topped with vanilla icing and have crushed Oreos on the end, giving the doughnut a striking resemblance to the marijuana cigarettes, aka joints, that Nelson enjoys.

Wake N Bake Donuts

Wake N Bake has also designed specially made doughnuts for rap artist Snoop Dogg and the Avett Brothers.

Willie Nelson, living legend

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017
by: Jenelle Janci

Country Confidential: What makes Willie Nelson a living legend

In honor of Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Festival, coming to Hersheypark Stadium on Sept. 10, WXCY’s Brad Austin and LNP’s Jenelle Janci discuss the life and legacy of Nelson in this month’s Country Confidential.

Brad Austin: It’s so odd that people like Willie Nelson have become almost counterculture. He was the Luke Bryan of his time, and now, he is revered as an icon, but he’s counterculture. You don’t see his T-shirts every day. His albums aren’t going to be selling a million copies. But, he was that guy, and he made that transition from the “it” guy at the time to icon, and that’s hard to do, because there have been a bunch of other artists that never made that transition.

Brad: That’s fantastic.

Jenelle: So, when I went to a Willie Nelson show in Maryland a couple of weeks ago, I sent a video to him and said, “Don’t cry.”

Brad: It’s funny how Willie is perceived through the generations. You and I, neither of us were born when Willie was the Luke Bryan of country music. We came into it when Willie was considered an old-timer. Really, by ’80-’85, Willie was pretty much done with his mainstream success. Country music, I think different than any other format, has a way of being extremely cyclical. You get a good 10-12 years out of some superstars, and if you’re lucky, if you’re Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, you’re on year 20 now. And that’s very rare because there’s very few artists who can reinvent themselves. I think the reason why someone like Willie has gone on into icon status but may not be part of the mainstream as long as he could have is because he was just Willie. And you were going to accept him or not accept him, but he was going to still be Willie.

Jenelle: The other thing about him is that he’s continued to release original music. Artists who are his age and have as much status as he has don’t really need to do that. He could sell concert tickets without making new music. It’s not just throwaway stuff either. That last album he had, “God’s Problem Child,” was pretty high quality.

Brad: I can only speak for country, but there comes a point in every artist’s career — Vince Gill has gone through it, George Strait has gone through it, Toby Keith, in a way, is going through it right now — where you just no longer have hit songs on the radio, whatever the factor may be. You have to make a conscious decision: “Do I want to keep writing and putting out music?” If you look, the ones that continue to do it are the ones that write almost all their music. You’re not going to get pitched the best songs in town if you’re 15 years past your last No. 1 hit.

Jenelle: I’d also argue that something that’s helped people my age to at least know who he is is his advocacy for marijuana legalization. If people can’t name a Willie Nelson song, they at least know him as the guy who really likes pot. Whenever there’s something political that happens with marijuana legalization, I feel like he’s always quoted. Someone always reaches out to him to get his opinion.

Brad: I call him a counterculture icon because marijuana consumption is still counterculture. It’s not mainstream. Anything that’s not mainstream I consider counterculture. But Willie has, in some way, and I don’t think it’s any advocacy of his own, I just think he’s been the most consistent with the message for the longest time. But you’re right — anytime marijuana comes up, Willie Nelson’s name is there. It has become an accepted part of culture that Willie Nelson is a stoner.

Jenelle: So, we mentioned his transition from being the mainstream “it” guy to counterculture. What else, from an industry standpoint, makes his career so notable?

Brad: People who only know him as the grandfatherly, long-braided ponytail, marijuana advocate probably don’t know how Willie started. Willie started as a songwriter, first and foremost, and he used to wear suits. He wrote “Crazy” for Patsy Cline. Then, he made the transition into being a mainstream artist. (As a) mainstream artist, Willie had several very big songs. Then came the mid-to-late ’60s and the early ’70s and outlaw music. I kind of call it country’s answer to Woodstock. There were a group of people who loved country music but felt like they were the outcasts to society like a lot of people from the Woodstock generation felt. I think that’s what bred the outlaw movement of country, which Willie gravitated right into. I think for 40 years, Willie has been one of the most consistent artists in country music.


Willie Nelson and Nelly, a lot in common

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Want to go?
Who: Nelly
When: 6 p.m. (gates) Sunday, Sept. 3
Who: Willie Nelson
When: 6 p.m. (gates) Tuesday, Sept. 5
Where: Both concerts are at The Shell, 10 Harnett St., Wilmington.
Info: Tickets to Nelly range from $35 to $150. Tickets to Willie Nelson range from $70 to $150.
Details: Purchase tickets at
by:  Bridget Callahan

The rapper performs at The Shell on Sept. 3, and country legend Nelson plays there Sept. 5.

This week, Wilmington’s newest concert venue, The Shell, brings some September star power.

With rapper Nelly coming back to town Sunday, Sept. 3, and the legendary Willie Nelson returning on Tuesday, Sept. 5, downtown bartenders beware — the crowds are gonna get weird. But that’s why we love this city, right?

You might think no two musicians could be further apart than an aging country songwriter and a young(ish) rap superstar. And you might be right. But let’s see what they have in common.

1. They’re both Grammy winners

Nelly has won three Grammys and has been nominated 12 times. He scored those Grammys for some particularly catchy singles, including 2003 classic “Hot in Herre,” which can still be heard every single time a bachelorette party goes to the jukebox.

Nelson has eight Grammys, but has been nominated 49 times. At the venerable age of 84, he’s exactly twice the age of the 42-year-old Nelly. So get cracking, Nelly. You still have time.

2. They both like to party

Everyone knows that Willie Nelson likes weed. The singer/songwriter has been arrested three times for possession, which is 15 times less than I would have guessed. One time, a prosecutor famously tried to settle the case for a small fine if Nelson agreed to sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court, but the judge didn’t go for it.

Nelly has only been arrested once for possession, famously after leaving his Wilmington show at the Azalea Festival two years ago. Busted in Tennessee for faulty bus tags, state troopers found drugs and several guns on his tour bus, including a gold-plated pistol. Nelly was released on bail, but the lesson is clear — make sure your tags are up to date before you drive through Tennessee, and don’t take your nicest pistol on tour with you.

I mean, this is something we all have common with them, but these two take it to the extreme. Nelson’s assets were seized by the IRS in 1990, who claimed he owed them $32 million. He eventually came to a creative settlement with them where he released a double album, “The IRS Tapes,” with almost all the profits going towards the debt.

In 2016, Nelly was called before the feds to the tune of over $2 million in back taxes owed. To help, fans cooked up a scheme under the hashtag #SaveNelly, where they streamed “Hot in Herre” over and over on Spotify, with each play sending $0.006 back to the artist.

4. They love their signature looks

In 2015, Nelly’s famous Band-Aid, which he wore on stage for years in support of his jailed friend Lavell Webb, sold at auction in Atlanta for $100,000. Nelly has gone through lots of Band-Aids, but supposedly that particular one was the very first one he wore on stage. That’s a long time to keep a Band-Aid.

Nelson is known, of course, for his long, red-now-gray braids. He did cut them off once, in 1983, when he gave them to Waylon Jennings at a party to celebrate Jennings’ sobriety. The gift was apparently appreciated, because years later when Jennings’ estate was auctioned off in 2014, those braids were still around, and sold for $37,000.

Note to my friends: Do not ever give me your hair for my birthday. I don’t want it.

From “Crazy” to “Whiskey River” to “Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Willie Nelson has either written or recorded some of the most influential outlaw country songs of all time. He is a country king. If people ever try to argue that with you, just walk away, because they’re idiots.

Nelly is known for his association with St. Louis, but like Nelson he was born in Texas, and he’s got a little country in him too. From the title of his hit debut album “Country Grammar,” to his 2004 collaboration with Tim McGraw on “Over and Over,” his cover of Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man” and his 2013 remix of “Cruise” with country group Florida Georgia Line, Nelly’s been dipping his toe in the country crossover waters for while. Rumors in 2015 pointed towards a country-style EP in the works, but that never made it to fruition.


Contact StarNews arts and entertainment at 910-343-2343.

Singing Legend Willie Nelson delights Asheville crowd

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Willie Nelson in the Northwest

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

by:  Jay Horton

Searching for Willie Nelson’s Lost Northwest Roots

If officially Texas’ favorite son, Nelson’s early artistry first took flight only after fleeing the Lone Star State for a roadhouse just this side of the Columbia River.

Oregon has always thought of Willie Nelson as one of our own.

He lobbied the state legislature on behalf of medical marijuana. He invested in a local biodiesel plant. Block 15 brews Willie Nelson Blazey Pale Ale. And this week, Jackpot Records will reissue his debut album, the first time it’s ever been re-released on vinyl.

…And Then I Wrote was recorded in 1962, well after several songs, such as “Crazy” and “Hello Walls,” had already become hits for established artists. But Nelson’s first single was actually cut five years earlier inside the studio of a Vancouver, Wash., radio station employing “Wee Willie Nelson” as their top country-music DJ.

If officially Texas’ favorite son, Nelson’s early artistry first took flight only after fleeing the Lone Star State for a roadhouse just this side of the Columbia River, where his mother worked as a bartender.

He had left the Pacific Northwest behind by the time his songs began climbing the charts, and his local lineage has been drowned out by the official histories. But the poet laureate of the American honky-tonk remains bound by blood to a tavern still serving the blue-collar locals of Goble, Oregon.

An unincorporated community midway between Portland and Astoria, Goble entered the 20th century as a vital timber hub featuring the second largest railroad ferry in the country. But the sole surviving remnants of past glories are the century-old grange hall and a bustling tavern not much younger.

From the back-patio stage to framed news articles commemorating the closure of the nearby Hanford nuclear plant, every inch of the Goble Tavern betrays some hint of a long and colorful past. At the behest of veteran bartender Phil Walker, Kathy Dalton Showalter, the daughter of the establishment’s original owners, wrote out the story of the bar’s single brush with greatness in the margins of an old menu stuck inside a photo album that usually floats around the barroom.

“My folks owned the tavern from 1952 until maybe 1964,” the statement reads. “Mom ran the tavern and Willie Nelson’s mom worked for her.”

Although Nelson and his wife lived in Vancouver, he became a frequent guest. While Nelson had already begun sketching out the first few chapters of a legendary songbook, there’s no report of any early performances, though that likely says more about the spirit of the age. Showalter told Walker that “everyone played in those days, everybody had a musical instrument—and it was just the employee’s son, you know? Nobody would’ve paid attention because everybody was playing something.”

Of course, he hadn’t yet grown into the Willie Nelson we now know. According to Goble resident Harvey Meyers, whose father, Rusty, led “the best Western swing band in the Northwest,” and often played at a defunct dance hall out on 82nd Avenue, Nelson expressed interest in sitting in with his dad’s band, but his father refused because “he just couldn’t stand Willie’s voice.”

“Now, a couple years go by, my dad’s a disc jockey at KVAN over in Washington, and so is Willie Nelson. And my dad hated his guts,” Meyers says. “No, really. I remember one time, sitting at the dinner table, my dad was just bitching. ‘Goddamn, Willie—that whiny voice. He sounds like a stuck hog!’ His voice, when he was a young kid like I was, just didn’t appeal to anybody.

“God, it took a long time—really it did—but he wrote all these good tunes!” he continues. “A few years later, my dad’s working three jobs as always, when I hear Patsy Cline sing ‘Crazy,’ and, man, I tell you what—that son of a bitch did it!”

Oregon clearly wasn’t made for Willie Nelson.

Nelson’s first single, 1957’s “No Place For Me,” sunk without a trace despite a lumberjack-themed B-side expressly pandering to Oregonian pride. The floundering talent confronted the limitations of a middling Portland market.

The saga of Boxcar Willie, whether fluffed by memoir or detailed in ever-more-derivative biographies, has always been spun as the lurid tour journal of an itinerant hell-raiser turned weed-puffing messiah. His sainted path toward enlightenment overflows with dives high and low. And yet, the Goble years have been formally disappeared from the public record.

Three years ago, when Howard Stern brought up his time in Portland, Nelson immediately corrected him with “Vancouver, Wash., right across the river.” In a 1980 autobiography doubling down on his rough-and-tumble origins, he admits arriving in the Northwest largely to cadge money from his mother but glosses over the circumstances, merely noting she lived in Portland.

It’s a baffling omission from the legend—all the more so because the Goble Tavern has not only survived the passing of the honky-tonk era but, until quite recently, emerged essentially unchanged.

But many decades after leaving the region, Nelson would have one more encounter with his Northwest past, though he’d never know it.

During their off-hours as Marines stationed at the Bremerton, Wash., submarine base, Ty Titus and Mark Engram jammed Nashville standards at the Goble Tavern on Sunday nights. Their country-rock band Lock Stock and Barrel soon turned that residency into gigs at the Crystal Ballroom, Hawthorne Theater and, in 2012, an opening slot for Willie Nelson at what’s now Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Wash.

“Oh, we were absolutely thinking about the Goble connection,” Engram says. “We’d talked about it. We were all ready.”

Alas, they never got the chance to bring it up—their only interaction with Nelson involved their bassist asking about his golf game as he walked onstage.

From a certain perspective, the Goble contingent’s most meaningful interaction with the legend that night came from longtime bartender Phil Walker’s failed attempt at garnering a signature upon a hat that read “Historic Goble Tavern.”

“There’s a portion of the concert where Willie walks around the stage and signs autographs for everybody,” Walker says. “I remember he was signing the bandana for the lady next to me when the security guy put the Goble hat on the stage. He was kinda looking down at it. And then he stood up straight, handed the bandanna back to the security guy, said, ‘Goodnight, everybody,’ and walked off stage.”

“I know Phil was right up there with a Goble Tavern hat and Willie did not sign it,” Engram recalls. “If it was something he didn’t like, I’m not judging the dude.”

HEAR IT: Jackpot Records’ reissue of Willie Nelson’s …And Then I Wrote is out Friday, Sept. 1. Preorder here.

Rolling Stone: 11 New Albums to Hear Right Now

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Rolling Stone Recommends

Willie Nelson, God’s Problem Child
The 83-year-old American legend takes on mortality with songs that look compassionately at the vagaries of one’s body aging, lifelong friendships and online rumors of his death, as well as a tribute to his former collaborator Merle Haggard, who passed away in 2016. “[Old] age has sharpened Nelson’s focus as a songwriter, providing him with renewed purpose as a lyricist and heightened vulnerability as a vocalist. … God’s Problem Child is a tightly-woven, poignant collection of ruminations on aging and fading faculties that amounts to Nelson’s most moving album in decades,” writes RS‘ Will Hermes.
Read Our Review: Willie Nelson Stares Down Mortality on Most Moving LP in Years
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Read about all their recommendations here.  

Farm Aid returns to Illinois soil for 20th anniversary (

Friday, August 25th, 2017

[Thanks Phil Weisman for sending this Farm Aid news.;

by:  Thomas Conner

“It was 20 years ago today….”

In July, Paul McCartney opened the worldwide Live 8 concerts with that line, hearkening back to the original 1985 Live Aid concert.  That was the year of aid, indeed — Live Aid, Band Aid and, eventually Farm Aid — for at that same Life AId event, in Philadelphia, Bob Dylan took to the stage and made an offhand remark that would change the lives of countless American farmres:  “Wouldn’t it be great if we did something for own farmers.

Nelson arrives on the heels of his latest album, a collection of reggae tunes titled, “Countryman” and Young is just ahead of his newest disc, “Prairie Wind,” a set of tuneful acoustic songs that recalls his late, “70’s “Comes a Time” mood.

Several influential fugres in folk are on the bill, incljding, “Alice’s Restaurant” maître d’ Arlo Guthie, REd Dirt queen Emmy-Lou Harris and alt country rascal James McMurty (who just released his latest disc, “Childish Things”).




Willie Nelson & Family at Yogi Berra Stadium (June 24, 2005)

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Willie opened for Bob at the packed stadium. I was on the ground. The bleachers were full too. Here are the photos of Willie.

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

“These musicians have been with Willie a long time, and along with his two sons, one on drums & one on electric guitar, this is TRULY a family band on the road.” – from a review of the June 4th show.

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson @ Yogi Berra Stadium

Willie Nelson Thrills in Spokane

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
by:  Kathy Plonka

Although country icon Willie Nelson’s guitar and face were worn from many years on the road, he proved his talent and tunes stand the test of time.
Eighty-four-year-old Nelson played with special guest Kacey Musgraves at Northern Quest in Airway Heights on Tuesday night.

Country queen Musgraves’s 45-minute performance and youthful spirit were integral elements of the show. Her easygoing and fun personality shone like the glitter on her microphone stand.

Obviously, most of the fans came for Nelson – except for one who repeatedly shouted, “Kacey,” during her set – but Musgraves’s smooth-as-butter voice and skillful guitar playing kept them engaged as they waited. She executed vocal runs with ease.

It was clear that the singer-songwriter connected with her songs’ stories about her hometown, love and loss. She also played unique covers that surpassed the original tracks’ quality, including “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert and a feminine, Southern spin on “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. I have heard many musicians cover Barkley’s song but none have impressed me quite like Musgraves.

Before Musgraves exited the stage, she paid tribute to country legend Glen Campbell, who died Tuesday, with a performance of his hit “Rhinestone Cowboy.” A complete gamut of human emotion was on display: nostalgia, sorrow and celebration.

A deafening roar filled the outdoor space when Nelson appeared donning his signature long, gray braids. I immediately realized that not many musicians – young or old – can play a guitar as skillfully as the legend. Musgraves said that he “might be bigger than Jesus” in her home state of Texas, and the way his fingers flew across the frets and strings suggested divine inspiration. Nelson’s “little” sister Bobbie – who’s actually two years older – also showcased her dazzling piano skills, which equaled her brother’s knack for playing the guitar.

Every time Nelson transitioned to a new song, a hush fell over the crowd. After more than 50 years of making music, his nasally baritone continues to mesmerize an audience.

When Nelson sang the 1981 track “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” you could hear a pin drop apart from the occasional cheer. The spectators were basking in the nostalgia while listening to the song. Soon after, he sang “On the Road Again” and his grin echoed the song’s sentiments: Nelson was clearly happy to be performing.

Despite his age, Nelson could sing in his higher register and the audience gladly filled in when he could not. The most memorable performance of the night was “Always on My Mind,” which elicited a standing ovation from a large chunk of the audience. His expertly executed guitar riffs and haunting vocals proved worthy of praise and quite a few tears that sneaked down my cheeks.

Throughout the night, Nelson paid tribute to late country stars, including Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams. He played his and Jennings’s song “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Haggard’s “It’s All Going to Pot” and Williams’s “Hey, Good Lookin’.”
But a tribute to his duet partner and friend Campbell was noticeably absent. Perhaps the wound was too fresh. Regardless, I think Campbell would have been proud of another legend’s continued efforts to spread joy through music.

New Micah Nelson/ Particle Kid Album Available, “Everything is BullShit”

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Micah Nelson has released a new Particle Kid album, and it is available for pre-order now. It is available on cd, cassette tape or digital download.


His website is really cool, too.

The legendary Ford reviewed Micah’s album:

Legendary American poet Michael C. Ford reviews “Particle Kid” LP

I am honored to be recognized by a legendary American poet, Michael C. Ford.

A legendary voice on the LA poetry scene, MICHAEL C FORD has produced a steady stream of print and recorded product since 1970.

His debut spoken word vinyl {on SST} LANGUAGE COMMANDO earned a Grammy nomination in 1986.

His book of Selected Poems entitled EMERGENCY EXITS was honored by a 1998 Pulitzer Prize nomination.

Michael’s New record: MICHAEL C FORD – LOOK EACH OTHER IN THE EARS, featuring The Doors members Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore can be found at

He had some very nice things to say about my record…thank you, Michael!

“Totally groove with the Particle guy product and
getting a real authentic, original vibe from his take
on American Contemporary melodic sculpture.
I particularly worship what he’s projecting on
Forever Friend and Slips Away. These are smash hits
on the jukebox in my brain.
I remember Harlan (Steinberger) playing some roughs for me a while
ago and it’s a great pleasure for me to, now, listen to
the finished music document by this luminous talent.”

-Michael C Ford

Willie Nelson & Family at the Mountain Winery, Saratoga, CA (Aug. 16, 2017)

Thursday, August 17th, 2017
by:  Jamie Soja


Willie Nelson performed to a sold out crowd in the vine covered hills of Santa Clara Valley. Nelson took the stage at Mountain Winery in Saratoga with his band, which includes his sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, at dusk performing his classic opener “Whiskey River”. Throughout the night he flawlessly sang renditions of fan favorites such as “On the Road Again” and “Still Is Still Moving to Me” as well as covers of Django Reinhardt and Ray Charles. His faithful guitar, trigger, sounds good as ever.


“Should I date someone who doesn’t like Willie Nelson?”

Thursday, August 17th, 2017
by: David Courtney

Is not liking Willie Nelson’s music a deal breaker?
Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q:   I just found out that the boy I’ve been dating for the past month and a half not only doesn’t like Willie Nelson’s music but actually dislikes his politics and everything else about him. Other than this, I have found him to be a pretty flawless guy. But is not liking Willie a deal killer?

Name Withheld, Lubbock

A:   In all the years the Texanist has been doling out advice to those in need of it, he doesn’t recall having ever been confronted with a situation quite like the strange and troubling one you have presented to him here. But then he’s never in his whole life come across anyone quite like this beau with whom you’ve been carrying on recently. The Texanist isn’t sure where you’d even meet a person like this. And he’s spent time in some of the world’s seedier cantinas, discotheques, and all-night truck-stop cafes. Even among the most unsavory acquaintances he’s had the displeasure of making in these shabby dens, he’s never met anyone who holds Willie Nelson in such low regard.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own musical proclivities. The Texanist, for example, is an admitted Wayne Newton fan. (Hey, it’s his knocking-back-a-scotch-with-a-splash-of-water-and-two-ice-cubes-while-shining-up-for-a-night-on-the-town music! So what?) But disliking Willie—as a singer, a songwriter, an outlaw (of the mostly harmless variety), an unabashed Mary Jane enthusiast, and an incomparable treasure to all of humanity—speaks to your dude’s character. What’s this guy’s deal, anyway? Nobody is here to tell anybody that somebody has to appreciate a particular musical artist as a prerequisite to being anybody’s boyfriend, but by shunning Willie’s transcendent tunesmithing, ever-pleasant warble, and overall munificence, this fellow has really shown himself to be, at the very least, a birdbrain.

In short, you’d have to be crazy (see what the Texanist did there?) to continue in this doomed relationship. If you’d like, the Texanist would be happy to make the phone call for you.

Willie Nelson tweets about leaving concert early in Salt Lake City last night

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Country icon Willie Nelson had to cut short a concert in Salt Lake City Sunday after suffering respiratory issues.

The 84-year-old singer later took to twitter to tell fans, “The altitude just got to me.”

The 20,000-capacity USANA Amphitheater is located in West Valley City, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, with an altitude of 4,300 feet.

The tweet posted after the concert read: “This is Willie. I am very sorry to have to cut the Salt Lake City performance short tonight. The altitude just got to me. I am feeling a lot better now and headed for lower ground.”

Texas-born Nelson has recorded more than 60 albums, written songs such as “Crazy,” and appeared in more than 30 movies and TV shows.

Known for his honky-tonk tunes and hippie flair, Nelson rose to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His fame has transcended genres with the release of hits such as “Always on My Mind” and “On the Road Again,” in the 1980s.

Both songs peaked within the Billboard Hot 100, and throughout his career Nelson has had 20 No. 1 hits and 114 chart singles, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Billboard charts rank Nelson as the No. 3 greatest of all time country singer after George Strait and Merle Haggard.