Archive for the ‘News and Reviews’ Category

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.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic at Carl’s Corner, Texas (1987)

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Workers prepare stage

Willie’s July 4th Picnic Saturday at Carl’s Corner
The Reporter
July 2, 1987

Willie Nelson returns to his native Hill Country to stage his annual Fourth of July Picnic this year at Carl’s Corner

Last minute details are being taken care of for the concert to be held along Interstate 35 at Carl’s Corner north of Hillsboro.

Chainlink fences surrounding the complex have been erected and work on a revolving stage for the concert got underway earlier this week.

Some of the top entertainers in the business are expected to appear.

Scheduled to appear with Abbott native are Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Roger Miller, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, the O’Kanes, Jerry Jeff Walker, the Geezinslaws and Asleep at the Wheel.

Also, Eric Johnson, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rattle Snake Annie, Billy Joe Shaver, Emmylou Harris, Billy Roy and Heart of the Night, Bennie Kirby and His Country Dummies, Roy Garrett and Linda Elaine and Mack Abernathey.

Still others scheduled to appear are David Allen Coe, Don Cherrie, Dwight Yokum, Cherokee Rose, Delbert McClinton, Joe Ely, Nitty Ditty Dirt band, Gary McClung Band of Hillsboro and others.

Camping for the concert will be available Friday night, July 3; free parking will open at 4 a.m. Saturday; gates to the concert site will open at 7 a.m.; and the music will begin at 10 a.m. lasting until midnight.

According to Zeke Varnon of Hillsboro, there will be free parking for about 17,000 vehicles on the concert grounds; after that, parking will be available in the area for a fee.

Persons entering the concert will not be allowed to carry alcoholic beverages, glass containers, fireworks or weapons onto the grounds.

Ice chests, food, lawnchairs and caneras will be allowed, according to Varnon.

Food items, soft drinks, beer and ice will be available on the concert grounds.

A special crew of medical technicians, headed by Hillsboro native Dr. Red Duke, will be on hand for minor medical emergencies that ight arise during the day.

The mmedical crew will be located in a large metal barn at the concert site.

Final preparations for the concert also are being made by security consultant Mike Simpson.

Simpson has been involved with concerts since 1973 and has served as security consultant for the picnic since 1984.

Over 400 law enforcement and security personnel are expected to be in the concert area the day of the event, acording to Simpson.

Ranger Security Systems of Austin and Southwest Concert Security will provide security personnel for the interior of the concert grounds according to Simpson.

Additional Department of Public Safety troopers, officials from the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, Hill County Sheriff’s Department and Hillsboro Police Department are expected in the area also.

Hillsboro Police Department will assist Carl’s Corner Police Department as needed.

Hillsboro Police Chief Ed Wheat said that a supervisor will be in the concert site area to evaluate the need for Hillsboro officers and the length of time they will be at the site.

No less than eight Hillsboro police officers will be on duty at all times during the holiday weekend according to the police chief.

The Hill County Sheriff’s Department also will be fully staffed during weekend to cover the county.

Fifteen deputies, including reserves, will be available during the weekend to cover the county.

Sheriff Brent Button said the primary concern for his department was the load the holiday weekend might place on the Hill County Law Enforcement Center which is currently operating near it’s 40 man capacity.

Besides the concert, a large crowd is anticipated at the Lake Whitney Cycle Ranch for a national motorcross race and the parks on Lake Whitney are expected to fill to capacity.

Simpson said, “There has been a great cooperative effort between all agencies involved in the preparation for the concert to make it safe and pleasant for the patrons as well as the residents fo the areas.

Tickets for the event are $21 and are available at several locations in Central Texas.

In Hillsboro, tickets are available at Carl’s Corner Truck Stop, Sherry’s Hitch ‘N Post Western Wear, Ramada Inn, Darlene’s Restaurant and Thunderbird Restaurant.

Other ticket outlets include Hitch N Post, Cheyannes, Herrington Insurance Agency, all in Whitney, Adams Tour and Travel in Itasca and Night Owl in West.

Tickets also are available through Rainbow Ticket Masters in the Dallsa-Fort Worth metroplex.

While a large number of tickets have been sold, Varnon said no estimates have been established.

Willie and Connie

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Country singer Willie Nelson poses with his wife, Connie, after receiving an award at the 1982 18th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at Knott’s Berry Farmy in Buena Park, Ca., Monday, May 9, 1983. Nelson won best single record of the year and album of the year for “Always on My Mind.” (AP Photo)

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic (1986)

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Wagner’s Time Off
The Leisure magazine for Professional Painters
Summer 1986
Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic
by David Standish

Picture this:  It’s the Fourth of July and deep in the heart of Texas a crowd of 15,000 has braved the sweltering heat to attend a picnic.  But then this is a picnic with star power — Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, a weekend-long festival featuring the biggest names on the country music charts.  It’s a laid-back affair:  People come bearing coolers, spread their blankets, pop open a frosty, and stomp their feet all day to country tunes.  It’s probably the most American thing to do on this most American of days.

There’s a rumor that this year’s picnic will be titled Farm Aid II, and that the money raised will be distributed to needy farmers (much as it was after the original Farm Aid).  Whatever larger meaning it takes on, however, the event will still be, first and foremost, a picnic presenting no less than 36 hours of traditional and progressive country music.  Past programs have included Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Buffet, Asleep at the Wheel, Merle Haggard, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, Leon Russell, Michael Murphey, Waylon Jennings, and, of course, Willie Nelson.  This year’s lineup, which won’t be announced until just days before the event, is sure to include many of these stars.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Willie for Playboy magazine, and he explained that the picnic got its start in 1972 at the First Annual Dripping Springs Reunion held in Dripping Springs, Texas, on Willie’s birthday.  “Everybody was there,” remembered Nelson.  “Roy Acuff, Tex Ritter, Roger Miller, Merle Haggard.  Over a three-day period there were probably forty or fifty acts.  It was the best country music, the best show, and the best sound that anybody in that area had ever heard.  But for some reason the crowds weren’t large and the promoters lost a lot of money.”

“But it was still a good idea, and the location was a good idea, so I did the same thing the next year — only I did it on the Fourth of July because I knew it would be hot.  I knew we were bringing together a lot of hippies and a lot of rednecks, and I wanted it to be hot… too hot to fight.”

“I also wanted it to be the kind of time where everyone was gonna drink beer… as long as we had the heat there to.. keep down energy levels.  Throw out a blanket on the ground, open up a case of beer, and enjoy the show.  We had Charlie Rich, Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell, Asleep at the Wheel, us…  It was really a picnic.  That was the atmosphere I wanted to create, that of a picnic with entertainment.

And he’s done it year after year.

The picnic my wife Carol and I went to was hotter than hell and just great.  It took place at a former country club (which Willie owns) few miles outside of Austin.  The site was lovely, with rolling oak-crested hills, and it overlooked Lake Travis, a tranquil section of the much-dammed Colorado River.  It was a setting that dispelled any prejudices about Texas being ugly, dusty, and flat.

A festival-style stage had been built across the top of a hill on the golf course, and the crowd spilled down the hillside, over a fairway and a couple of greens.  It was a big crowd.  Over 15,000 people were packed onto the golf course and, while they were generally friendly, the grounds were torn and trampled at the end of the weekend.  (One reason Willie’s picnics are rarely held at the same site from year to year is the mess they leave behind.  Willie’s country club, where the picnic was held several summers in a row, became off-limits when residents of the area complained.)

The weekend presented a nonstop lineup of country stars, but the best of them were Willie & Family, a band of longtime friends that includes drummer Paul English, bassists Chris Ehtridge and Bee Spears, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and guitarists Grady Martin and Jody Payne.  The group is occasionally joined by Willie’s sister Bobbie on piano.  They pose as a country-rock group, but they’re really a fine jazz band playing in a country mode, probably the best performing band of it’s kind since Duke Ellington quit the dance hall circuit — like Ellington and the other great ones, their music changes every night.  Willie and Family played a long, pleasing morning set, and then closed the show that evening. It’s worth staying for both sets, if you can stand the three-digit heat.

And it is all day singin’ and picnicking on the ground.  The day gets rolling around 10 a.m.  Musicians play for 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes joining other bands later in the day. Forty or 50 acts are scheduled for the weekend.  Vendors sell beer and soda, as well as hot dogs, chips, and simple sandwiches, but most picnickers bring their own food and drink.  Because its so hot, medics are on hand to dispense  free salt tablets — every year, a number of people pass out from dehydration.  Many others suffer severe sunburn.  But Willie’s theory about the heat does seem to work.  The year I went everybody seemed to get along just fine.

Willie’s picnic was the most fun Carol and I had had in a long time.  But we did come up with a few parting tips to ensure that other first-time picnickers will enjoy Willie’s party, too.

— Take a good sun-shading had and a long-sleeved shirt.  The sun is so strong it’s possible to get sunburned through thin cotton shirts, so bring a heavy one.

— Bring a plastic jug full of ice water.

— Be prepared for no shade.  However cumbersome, toting along a beach umbrella is a good idea.

— Finally, don’t forget the essentials:  a quilt or blanket to stretch out on, and a cooler full of your favorite refreshment.

Basically, it’s like getting ready for a nice long day at the beach — except the music at the beach was never so good.

Willie Nelson & Family, Outlaw Music Festival (June 24, 2018)

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

photo:  Ken Settle
by: Gary Graff

Playing in the late afternoon/early evening, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor promised “it’s gonna be a great night of music” on Sunday, June 24, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

He wasn’t kidding.

The second local year of Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival packed plenty of musical highlights into its five hours and 15 minutes. With all four acts — Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, the Head and the Heart and Old Crow — falling under the Americana heading, the package celebrated variety and diversity and was lively enough to go back quicker than its length might suggest.

The best moments, of course, were collaborative. Nelson’s famed harmonica player Mickey Raphael showed up to play several songs with Old Crow and one (“Wasting Time”) with Rateliff and his band. The latter also brought members from Old Crow and the Head and the Heart onstage for its rootsy finale rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” while most of the “cast” trooped back to join Nelson and his band for an exuberant medley of show-closing spirituals “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and” “I’ll Fly Away” and Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light.”

Those gave the evening the kind of special quality you expect from festivals, large or small. And fortunately each act’s “normal” set was exciting in their own right — starting with Old Crow’s rowdy explosion of “country music in the wolverine state.” The gang of multi-instrumentalists — including a crew member who hails from Clare, Mich., and joined the group for several songs — kept the octane high throughout its 50 minutes on stage, from the opening “Child of the Mississippi” and “Alabama High-Test” through the three-fiddler “Shout Mountain Music” and a cover of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans.” “Wagon Wheel,” of course, became a hearty audience singalong, while “8 Dogs, 8 Banjos” brought the set to a roaring conclusion.

Seattle’s the Head and the Heart provided a mellower musical palette cleanser with a richly melodic dozen songs highlighted by engaging performances of “Ghosts,” “Let’s Be Still,” “Library Magic” and “Living Mirage.” It was a good set-up for Rateliff and company to tear the root off with 65-minutes of brassy and sassy soul revue, keeping the DTE crowd up through hits such as “You Worry Me” and “I Never Get Old” — the latter complete with knee-drop choreography — a rowdy romp through “S.O.B.” and effectively placed ballads such as “Wasting Time” and “Hey Mama.”

And Nelson? Despite all the stoner jokes and recent health issues, the 85-year-old, red headbanded Americana patriarch was present and potent during an hour-long performance with his five piece band, singing his way through more than 20 favorites from his abundant song catalog and trading sharp, fluid solos on his beat-up Trigger guitar with Raphael and his sister, pianist Bobbie Nelson. Nelson started with a greatest hits blast — “Whiskey River,” “Still is Still Moving To Me” and his Toby Keith duet “Beer For My Horses” — and mixed his own classics (“On The Road Again,” “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”) with songs he wrote for others (“Always On My Mind).

With a giant Texas flag behind him, Nelson also filled his set with salutes to his departed peers, as if serving as a curator of the Great Americana Songbook. He paid tribute to Waylon Jennings (“Good Hearted Woman”), Billy Joe Shaver (“Georgia On A Fast Train”) and Merle Haggard by way of their duet “It’s All Going To Pot,” while a Hank Williams segment featured a trio of “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” and “Move It On Over.” None of it felt happenstance, either; At the end of a long day, Nelson gave context to the more contemporary music that preceded him, leaving the DTE fans educated as well as entertained.

Willie Nelson and Sturgill Simpson, Outlaw Music Festival in Cincinnati (June 22, 2018)

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour stopped at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Riverbend Music Center on Friday night, and fans were treated to an extended sing-along between the country legend and Sturgill Simpson, who joined him onstage for a playful rendition of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”

There’s a ramshackle charm to this particular version of the 1978 classic, which Nelson originally sang with Waylon Jennings. In a fan-captured video, Simpson — the primary support on select dates of this summer’s tour — and the band follow the lead of Nelson and his guitar, Trigger, as he plucks his way through the melody. The pair trades lines through the verses, with the crowd joining in heartily on the choruses.

Simpson stuck around through the end of Nelson’s headlining set that night for the grand finale, a rousing medley that can also be seen in a 12-minute fan video. It kicks off with a cover of the Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which gets the Red Headed Stranger — a particularly spry-looking 85-year-old in this case — into full-on band leader mode, while Simpson trades licks on guitar with harp player Mickey Raphael. The jam finishes off with “Living in the Promiseland” and “I Saw the Light.”

Despite having to cancel some gigs over the winter due to a bout of the flu, Nelson returned this spring with a new LP, Last Man Standing, which went to Number Two on the country charts. His Outlaw Tour continues through July and, after a break, goes into September, with its next stop June 29th at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Simpson will again be on the bill.

Willie Nelson & Family, Outlaw Music Festival (June 23, 2018)

Sunday, June 24th, 2018
by:  David Lindquist

Read article, see more photos here.  

Dang, it felt good to be an outlaw Saturday at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center.

With apologies to the Geto Boys and their gangster anthem, the Outlaw Music Festival made a smashing Indiana debut led by national treasure Willie Nelson and rising iconoclast Sturgill Simpson.

At age 85, Nelson is still breaking ground. The Outlaw Music Festival debuted with a single date in 2016, followed by 10 shows in 2017. The multi-act tour will visit about 20 cities this summer.

Nelson — a trailblazer in the “outlaw country” movement for more than 45 years — headlines all the shows, supported by a rotating roster of opening acts.

Roots-rock master JD McPherson opened Saturday’s show, giving him leeway to joke about the Outlaw caravan being “a lot better than the in-law festival.”

In reality, none of the day’s acts gloated or preened about being “outlaws.” If the label applies to Nelson, Simpson, McPherson and fellow acts Old Crow Medicine Show and the Head and the Heart, all five cut against the grain and go their own way when most people are going somewhere else.

Check out five ways the Outlaw festival was the place to be:

1. Willie’s congregation

Wearing a black T-shirt promoting the island of Maui, Nelson sounded slightly unsteady on opening number “Whiskey River.” But he was tuned up and ready to roll for follow-up “Still is Still Moving to Me” and the remainder of his hour onstage. Although Nelson didn’t need the help, he called on the audience to pick up key lines in the songs “Beer for My Horses,” “Good Hearted Woman,” “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again.” It added up to a communal experience that paralleled Nelson’s willingness to share the spotlight with harmonica player Mickey Raphael and “little sister” piano player Bobbie Nelson (who’s 87, two years older than Willie). The feel-good performance ended with a salvation-themed trilogy of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “I Saw the Light” featuring backing vocals from McPherson and members of Old Crow Medicine Show and the Head and the Heart.

2. Enduring artistry

Nelson delivered a winner without singing signature songs “Crazy,” “Hello Walls,” “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Night Life.” An unidentified instrumental may have contained elements of “Crazy” and “Night Life” (or it may have been a Django Reinhardt tribute?), showcasing Nelson’s acoustic-guitar knack for bright tones, syncopation and rough-hewn repetition. The audience swooned when he turned the number over to Bobbie. More guitar prowess was on display during “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” a sparkling rendition you could swap with any he played in 1988, 1998 or 2008.

read article, see photos here.

Willie Nelson’s set list

1. “Whiskey River” (Johnny Bush cover)
2. “Still is Still Moving to Me”
3. “Beer for My Horses” (2002 duet by Toby Keith and Nelson)
4. “Good Hearted Woman” (Waylon Jennings cover)
5. “It’s All Going to Pot” (2015 duet by Merle Haggard and Nelson)
6. “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” (Ed Bruce cover)
7. “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”
8. “On the Road Again”
9. “Always On My Mind” (originally recorded by Gwen McRae and Brenda Lee)
10. “Down Yonder” (Bobbie Nelson piano showcase, written by L. Wolfe Gilbert)
11. “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” (Lefty Frizzell cover)
12. Unidentified instrumental
13. “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” (Billy Joe Shaver cover)
14. “Still Not Dead”
15. “Shoeshine Man” (Tom T. Hall cover)
16. “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” (Hank Williams cover)
17. “Hey, Good Lookin’ ” (Hank Williams cover)
18. “Move It On Over” (Hank Williams cover)
19. “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”
20. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I’ll Fly Away” (pre-World War II hymns)
21. “I Saw the Light” (Hank Williams cover)

Sturgill Simpson’s set list

1. “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)”
2. “It Ain’t All Flowers”
3. “The Promise” (When In Rome cover)
4. “Breakers Roar”
5: “Some Days”
6: “California Women” (Hoyt Axton cover)
7: “Turtles All the Way Down”
8. “You Don’t Miss Your Water”
9. “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)”
10. “All Around You”
11. “Goin’ Down” (Freddie King cover)
12. “I’d Have to be Crazy” (Steve Fromholz cover)
13. “Call to Arms”
14. “The Motivator” (T. Rex cover)

Read article, see more photos here.



Willie Nelson, always worth the wait, Charlotte, NC (June 20, 2018)

Friday, June 22nd, 2018
story and photo by:  Jeff Hahne

Read article, see more photos here.  

Outlaw Music Festival f. Willie Nelson, The Avett Brothers, Jamey Johnson and Sarah Shook and the Disarmers
PNC Music Pavilion
June 20, 2018

When Willie Nelson abruptly canceled his performance nearly a month ago, fans left Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion filled with disappointment. Sure, they said they’d make up the show, but would it really happen? When a June 20 makeup date was announced, fans remained optimistic. On Wednesday night, Nelson held up his end of the bargain in fine fashion. He rolled through hit after hit and cover after cover. At this point, Nelson doesn’t owe anyone an explanation or a makeup date, but he showed his love of performing for more than an hour. His only acknowledgement of last month’s debacle was a simple, “I feel like I’ve been here before.”

Before Nelson, Concord’s own Avett Brothers performed a stripped-down set a la 2008. With only Seth and Scott Avett flanked by bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon, the quartet rifled through songs like they used to when they were performing in Charlotte on a regular basis. Family harmonies, energetic foot stomping and spot-on instrumentation highlighted the set. It might have stole the show if they were opening for anyone other than Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson setlist
Whiskey River
Still Is Still Moving to Me
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Good Hearted Woman
Down Yonder
If You Got the Money
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
On the Road Again
Always on My Mind
It’s All Going to Pot
Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
Hey Good Lookin’
Move It On Over
Shoeshine Man
Georgia on My Mind
I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train
Funny How Time Slips Away
Night Life
Still Not Dead
Something You Get Through
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
Will the Circle Be Unbroken / I’ll Fly Away

The Avett Brothers setlist
Laundry Room
Distraction #74
Down With the Shine
Talk on Indolence
Murder in the City
I Wish I Was
Satan Pulls the Strings
At the Beach
Standing With You
Mama Tried
Through My Prayers

Willie Nelson & Family at the Apollo Theater – London, England (June 17, 2010)

Sunday, June 17th, 2018


opollo2 apollo3 opollo4

Willie Nelson says separating immigrant families at border is ‘outrageous’

Sunday, June 17th, 2018
by:  Dave Paulson

One of the most famous Texans of all time has sounded off against the “zero tolerance” border policy that has resulted in immigrant children being separated from their parents after they enter the U.S. illegally.

In a statement issued Thursday and first reported by Rolling Stone, country music legend Willie Nelson spoke out against the policy.

What’s going on at our southern border is outrageous,” Nelson said. “Christians everywhere should be up in arms. What happened to ‘Bring us your tired and weak and we will make them strong?’ This is still the promise land.”

Nelson was referencing the song “Living in the Promiseland,” which he recorded in the 1980s. Its lyrics include “Give us your tired and weak and we will make them strong/ Bring us your foreign songs and we will sing along.”

Nelson, 85, has been socially active and outspoken for decades. In addition to co-creating Farm Aid to help America’s family farmers, he has also spoken out in support of gay marriage and has been a high-profile advocate for legalizing marijuana.

Last year, after attorney general Jeff Sessions called marijuana dependency “only slightly less awful” than heroin dependency, Nelson told the Washington Post the attorney general should “try heroin and try marijuana and then call me and let me know if he still thinks it’s the same thing, and one is as bad as the other.”