Willie Nelson and wife Annie Nelson speak with the media before Friday’s concert at Hard Rock Live in Biloxi. The Nelsons received $40,000 from Hard Rock for the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance. photo by James Edward Bates
By Mary Perez
Willie Nelson was back in Biloxi on Friday, a town he’s played before – and lived in, when he was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base.
This time, he was a Hard Rock Casino Ambassador of Rock and played his country ballads, rock and blues for a sell-out crowd.
Before the concert, dressed in a black shirt and black cowboy hat, he quietly answered questions from the Sun Herald and other reporters.
“I talk to the audiences all the time” about sustainability, both at his concerts and on his XM Satellite Radio show, Nelson said. “The message is getting out there.”
Nelson became a fan of biodiesel technology after Annie bought a car that ran on the fuel blend.
“Renewable isn’t always sustainable,” Annie said, but the BioWillieÂ® biodiesel is made from locally grown soybeans and other feedstock and is now available at truck stops around the country. It’s better for the environment, helps the economy and supports America’s farmers, another of Nelson’s causes.
“It’s great to be able to use your talent, whatever it is, to help,” he said.
“Music has always been my first love,” Nelson said, and at 75, he continues to tour, play golf and appear in movies. In “Surfer Dude,” he plays the guardian angel of Matthew McConaughey.
“I have a guardian angel,” said Nelson. “A lot of them.”
He’s also being a guardian angel to the victims of Hurricane Ike in Texas, as he was for Katrina victims in Mississippi and New Orleans. Farm Aid, the organization he helped found to support small American farmers, has sent some money and help, he said.
Nelson gave the clothes off his back to the memorabilia collection at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, said Hard Rock Senior Director of Philanthropy Annie Balliro. In turn, Hard Rock donated $40,000 to the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance.
“They didn’t have to do any of this,” said Balliro, “but took it on themselves to be citizens of the planet.”
Hard Rock Casino General Manager Duncan McKenzie said, “This is an international event right here in Biloxi.”