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In October of 2007, Willie Nelson hosted the 103th Annual Bad Boy and Bad Girl Lawnmower Race at Luck, Texas, his western town on his ranch property outside of Austin, Texas. Willie invited a few friends to take part in the race, which was filmed as a music video to his song, ‘You Don’t Think I’m Funny Any More.’
Willie’s daughter Paula, his son Micah, former wife Connie Nelson, and friends Johnny Bush, Jessica Simpson, Luke and Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Dan Rather, Scooter Franks, the late and loved Poodie Locke, and a cast of thousands, starred in the video.
Relaxing in his tour bus before Wednesday’s concert, Willie Nelson said he was happy to be back in Branson.”The people here were very nice and they liked our show,” said Nelson, who performed during the 1992 season. “Branson has changed a little bit since then. They used to have only five or six roads back then, and it was kind of hard to get around.”
Nelson gave an afternoon audience a special treat when he sat on the front of the stage with country music deejay Ralph Emery. The interview was the first of a new weekly series RFD-TV will air on Mondays.
Nelson, with his trademark braids hanging to his waist, talked about his Farm Aid benefits.
“Call your representatives and say we need a good farm bill,” he said. “We need to grow alternative fuels to keep us from having to go around the world looking for oil.”
About 2,000 people in the theater erupted into applause. Nelson also thanked the men and women serving in the Middle East. “They have really been put in a hard spot over there, and the quicker we bring them back, the better,” he said.
Also in the audience were several dozen members of the FFA, who had been invited to the concert.
Katie Fisher of Strafford said she appreciated Nelson’s efforts to help farmers.
“Without agriculture, we wouldn’t have anything at all,” she said.
RFD-TV The Theatre is on the west end of the strip in what was formerly the Ray Stevens Theatre. RFD-TV is a television network dedicated to rural America and agriculture. RFD-TV founder and president Patrick Gottsch purchased the 2,000-seat theater last summer.
The network was launched from its headquarters in Omaha, Neb., in December 2000. Gottsch is a former farmer who wanted to provide coverage that was missing for rural residents, he said. The initials stand for Rural Free Delivery, an old name for mail delivery in farming areas.
The theater will produce concerts with well-known talent including Loretta Lynn and Lorrie Morgan in April. They also offer a twice-daily variety show and will operate from March through December, Gottsch said.
Willie Nelson’s beautiful tribute to his friend Ray Price, “For the Good Times” is available now, in record stores and online retailers. Willie was a former member of Price’s Cherokee Cowboy and close life-long friend. He recorded the twelve-track album at Ocean Way Studios, where Price also recorded. Engineered by Fred Foster and Bergen White, the album features Vince Gill on six tracks.
1. “Heartaches by the Number (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
2. “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
3. “Faded Love”
4. “It Always Will Be”
5. “City Lights (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
6. “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me(featuring the Time Jumpers)”
7. “Make the World Go Away”
8. “I’m Still Not Over You”
9. “Night Life”
10. “Crazy Arms (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
11. “Invitation to the Blues (featuring the Time Jumpers)”
12. “For The Good Times”
Just before Willie Nelson appeared in front of one of the largest crowds in Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) history, ACL shared this video from a few ACL headliners that were unable to attend his historic set.
by: Craig Sailor
A Shelton- and Tacoma-based pot business is now growing marijuana for Willie’s Reserve, the brand launched by country music star and cannabis connoisseur Willie Nelson.
It’s another major twist in the South Sound company’s story, which was run out of one county only to be embraced by another.
Brothers Taylor and Garrett Balduff are the owners of the cannabis operation called Forbidden Farms. They grow their cannabis in Mason County, near Shelton, and process it on Tacoma’s Tideflats.
“To get an endorsement from an American icon is pretty awesome,” Taylor said.
The brothers smoked some of their Maui Wowie strain with Nelson backstage July 23 at his Marymoor Park concert.
“He was a fan,” Taylor said. “He liked it most definitely.”
Nelson is selling his brand, to which the Balduff brothers are contributors, in various Washington pot shops. Forbidden Farms is one of three in Washington listed as growers for Willie’s Reserve.
To get Nelson’s approval, an inspection team visited the farm in early 2016.
“They were absolutely blown away with what we were doing,” Taylor said. The team was impressed with the natural light the brothers use to grow their cannabis while still maintaining top quality.
Taylor, 32, manages the processing operation. Garrett, 35, manages the farm. They employ 18 workers. Both brothers and employees switch between the two sites as needed.
“It’s the new American Dream,” Garrett said. “Working together, owning our own business. It’s a new industry, and we were able to get our foot in the door.”
The Balduffs grew up in Bonney Lake and Buckley. Taylor worked in property management while arrett worked in home remodeling. Both dabbled with collective marijuana gardens before taking on cannabis full time.
It wasn’t easy getting off the ground.
Almost a year after Initiative 502 passed in November 2012, the brothers found a site in rural Lewis County. They sold personal assets and cashed out 401(k)s to start their business.
by: Dan Ferguson
Into his 80s, Willie Nelson continues to crank out the albums in rather prolific fashion. His latest is a tribute his friend and long-ago bandleader, Ray Price. It was Price who in 1960 would give the young songwriter Nelson a job playing bass in his Cherokee Cowboys band replacing Donny Young, later known as Johnny Paycheck, of all people. Whereas the stint was short-lived, their friendship would endure and it would be Nelson who would pen one of Price’s biggest hits, “Night Life.” .
On his new tribute album to the late country music hall of famer Ray Price, Willie Nelson proves in part that you can go home again. Home, in this case, is one of the early stops in Nelson’s lengthy career as a member of Price’s Cherokee Cowboys band playing bass. That was 1960 and whereas the stay was brief, the two remained close friends right up until Price’s passing in 2013. With For the Good Times, Nelson pays homage to his one-time boss covering a dozen Price classics including two written by Nelson himself (“Night Life” and “I’m Still Not Over You”). Few country music artists can say they were the “architect” of a sound. Price is one of the very few thanks to the creation of that “Ray Price beat,” a 4/4 shuffle that filled many a dance floor and has endured to this day. That sound is in fine hands in both the voice of Nelson and his stellar backing from a collection of Nashville studio aces, not to mention all-star band The Time Jumpers. All together, they deliver the goods on C&W nuggets like “Heartaches by the Numbers” and “Crazy Arms.” On the flips side, there was Price the balladeer and Nelson covers that side of the equation in equally fine fashion on such classics as “Make the World Go Away” and Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times.” In all, For the Good Times is a worthy tribute to a most worthwhile artist. Visit www.legacyrecordings.com.
by: Turk Pipkin
A few years ago, when Willie and I were writing our book The Tao of Willie, I felt that many people would be referring back to the book over the coming years to get a fresh dose of Willie’s Baptists/Buddhist outlook on life (“Bootist” as Willie called it). But I’m not sure I realized that I’d be one of those readers, coming back again and again to Willie’s words in our book during my own times of need.
First the concert. Sunday was a beautiful day at Zilker Park. As I looked out from the stage at 75,000 fans and blue skies smiling at me, Matthew McConnaughey came onstage to intro Willie, and the roar from the crowd was the loudest I’ve ever heard at an Austin show, at least until the roar for Willie one minute later. I have no idea how many Willie shows I’ve seen – a couple of hundred or more – and somehow every show still ends up being fresh and amazing in wonderful ways.
Matthew McConnaughey introduces Willie to 70,000 at ACL Fest in Austin
Last night was much more than that. The joy and connections Willie puts out from the stage are always palpable but for his first ACL fest show in years, 83-year-old Willie was in fine voice (as good as I’ve heard in a very long time), in beautiful spirit (practically shining) and playing Trigger like the true rock-n-roll/country/blues/jazz Zen master than he is. Eight (?) years ago at Willie’s last ACL fest appearance, I stood next to the late, great Willie road manager Poodie Locke, and Poodie and I talked about the magic of Willie and how it all comes together when it needs to.
Last night, I thought about Poodie’s spirit floating around that stage, about the spirit and love of Bee Spears and other Willie family band members that have moved on, and I thought how their spirits are part of what makes the ongoing family band so wonderful and strong and full of love. Consider Sister Bobby, still sounding great and looking beautiful at her giant grand piano, despite the fact that she and her little brother Booger Red, aka Willie, have been playing music together for nearly 80 years.
I was particularly taken with Willie’s ACL version of “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”, and thought of all the people I’ve met for whom this song has great meeting (if you have any biker friends, ask them what Hell’s Angels think the song is about).
“I make it a point not to disagree with any of the interpretations,” said Willie in our little book, “as long as you’re not trying to sell your junk food or your god or your war with my song. It’s not up to me to tell you what my songs mean. The meaning is already in the song. And the song is the meaning.”
Later in the book, we came back to “Angels”, a little like how Willie keeps coming back to “On the Road Again” in his concert. Here’s a clip of Willie’s ACL version:
“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” IS the Tao of Willie,” he wrote (or we wrote, anyway this is all from the book.) “It and a whole bunch of other songs I’ve written are the reflection of what I’ve learned on a really great ride on the merry go round called Earth.”
I felt blessed to experience the ACL show from the sound board, with a great view and surrounded by a huge audience that was soaking up the love, and I was moved to tears as I watched how Willie soaked it all in.
Here’s another passage from our little book, in Willie’s voice, as is the entire book except for my short introduction.
“Sometimes in my concerts, I find that I’ve slipped outside of myself to the same place that I find in meditation. Like the audience, I can see myself on stage. I can see my band behind me and all around me. I can see Poodie and David Anderson in the wings, and Budrocks and Bobby Lemmons, Josh the sound guy on the light and sound boards. All of us are connected to each other and to the audience, and whether we’re all caught up in “Angel Flying to Close to the Ground, or just rocking through “Whiskey River” for the third time of the night, that’s the kind of moment that keeps me coming back on the road again and again. In that moment, I see myself, my family band, and the audience — all of us are a part of one joyful whole.
It’s like the eye of a hurricane, I’m connected to everything.”
Towards the end of his set, I saw Willie pause a little longer than usual between songs and watched him look from face to face in the front rows then lift his gaze up and up to the crowd that seemed to stretch all the way to the sun setting in the beautiful hills he calls home. There was a long history of music and musicians in Austin before Willie, but much of what is great about this city’s love of music and film and arts flows stems from forty-plus years ago when Willie decided he didn’t want to be what Nashville wanted him to be, he wanted to come home to Texas and be himself.
Looking out at the crowd at Zilker, Willie didn’t seem to want to end his set at all. If Mumford and Sons hadn’t been coming up later, he might still be playing.
“I didn’t come here,” Willie is fond of saying, “And I ain’t leaving.”
I’ve known Willie for much of the time he’s been in Austin. In the 70s, I was fortunate to be his opening act on Auditorium Shores not far from Zilker Park, and Christy was a producer at the 1990 Willie picnic in Zilker Park, one of those 105 degree marathon concert days when you wish you were dead and thank God that you’re alive to see it all. We made some movies together and played a lot of golf and poker, all times that I loved and still love, but what I cherish most is the way Willie helped open my heart to the world, and how Willie (and Annie who is a great, and tireless rock of support and inspiration as well) enabled Christy and I to do more with our lives by believing in us and supporting out idea that individuals and couples who want to change the world and are willing to work for their vision can have great impact. There are countless others out there like Christy and me.
If nothing else, Willie helps us know who we are.
So once more from The Tao of Willie, this time from end of the book, Willie’s words again, taken from my journals and scraps of paper where I had noted things Willie said to me over the years.
“Since we know so little of the whole, it’s all the more important to know yourself. That brings us to the last question, the question that will best start your day, possibly every day, of your life.
The question is, “Who am I?”
Within the answer to that question is the thing we call happiness.
As for myself, I am just a troubadour going down the road, learning my lessons in this life so I will know better next time. I believe the lessons are out there waiting to be found, and waiting inside me to be found as well.
As the miles and miles of miles and miles roll by, I try to listen to the voice inside me as it offers advice, tells tales and whispers the melody to what will be my next song.
Depending on the time of day, and what’s been bouncing around in my life, those voices may not always be in my best interest. If an inner voice says, “Tell Gator to stop the bus on the next overpass so I can determine whether I can fly or not,” then I’ll probably have a cup of coffee and choose to listen to some other voice.
I like it when the other voice reminds me that I am the luckiest man on earth, that I am surrounded by a very large family of people I love and whom I love, and that as long as my body and this bus will carry me, I can step on stage and lift my heart in song that will carry me and my audience through the worst that life has to offer.
Knowing this may not spare me from the sorrows of life and the troubles of the world, but together — myself, my family and my friends and fans — we use that common song in our hearts to carry on.
In the end, all of us are just angels flying close to the ground.
Returning to the words of Kahil Gibran that I first read so many years ago, I am reminded that in our quest to return to God, each of us, in our heart, carries a map to that quest, a map that is made of love.
Love is what I live on. Love is what keeps me going.
So all I can say to you is what I’ve said to myself a thousand times.
“Open your heart, Willie, and give love a try. You’ll be amazed at what happens.”
So far, it’s worked pretty well.”
Thank you Willie. In this crazy election year, I think we could all use a little move love. And a lot more people voting.
by: Jamie LaReau
Leaders at Subaru of America’s advertising agency Carmichael Lynch knew they had something special last year with a TV spot called “Dream Weekend.”
Even the production of it was a tear-jerker.
“Yeah, boy — that was a special shoot,” recalls Randy Hughes, executive creative director at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis. “We were all choked up shooting it, and we knew it would be really something.”
The spot for the 2016 Impreza tells the story of a young man and his aging dog, experiencing one last journey. Together, they complete a “bucket list” of treats for the dog, including a ride through the countryside with the window open, a decorated birthday bone, an illicit dunk in a motel pool, a brand-new shoe to chew on, a tray of carryout barbecue and a reunion with a long-lost love. The soundtrack is a folksy Willie Nelson, singing, “You’re my buddy, my pal, my friend/It will be that way until the end.”