Willie Nelson Sings His Heart Out For Bread and Roses (11/27/98)


By Paul Liberatore
Marin Independent Journal
November 27, 1987. 
Photos by Ken Friedman

After back-to-back concerts in Marin for thousands of paying customers, Willie nelson gave something back before he left town, performing a free concert Monday night at San Francisco’s Delancy Street.

This was a highlight presentation of Mimi Farina’s Bread & Roses, the Marin organization that’s been bringing live entertainment into institutions for nearly 25 years.  Corte Madera-based B&R puts on something like 40 perfectly wonderful shows a month at 75 different institutions in the Bay Area, but, obviously, this was not your average convalescent home singalong. 

The country music superstar and his band (with Mill Valley guitarist, Jackie king sitting in) played like they were getting paid, and they were, just not in money.   Willie did his entire concert set, 2 1/2 hours without a break, while 450 grateful Delancy Streeters, all of them recovering from substance abuse and other problems, stood and cheered and felt like they must be doing something right.  

Afterwards, an excitable Mimi Sibert, the irrepressible Delancy Street founder, a Willie Nelson red bandana clamped on her head, could scarely contain herself.

“They could have played three songs, said ‘Stay clean and sober’, and left,’ she exulted from the stage. But they did 2 1/2 hours!”  And later, visiting Willie on his gleaming tour bus, “The Red Headed Stranger,” Silbert thanked him, profusely.  

“That was the best thing that’s happened in 27 years of Delancy Street,” she declared.  “We’ve had every president since Jimmy Carter here and they are all nothing compared to this.  I’m going to squeal all night.”

Willie, who will receive a Kennedy Center Honor in December, handled it all with equanimity.  “I hated to leave that crowd,’ he said quietly.  ‘They were very enthusiastic.  I think they appreciated us.  It felt like the right place to be.”

Nelson, the original country music outlaw and one of the stars of FarmAid, is known for doing benefits for causes he believes in, including his share of prison shows.  Asked why he enjoys performing behind bars, Willie said in all seriouslness, ‘It’s a chance to see some of my friends.’ 

For more information about Bread and Roses, a wonderful tribute to founder Mimi Farina, and how you can get involved, visit their web site at www.breadandroses.org

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