Paula Nelson in the News

Janis from Texas took this picture of Paula
by Bliss

Growing up, Paula Nelson would “run amok” with siblings, cousins and friends while their parents played guitar and sang songs with her dad. Years passed before she fully realized how much the world idolized her dad’s friends and that her dad, Willie Nelson, was a musical icon.

“Just constantly cool people were over,” she recalls during an interview from her tour bus. “I didn’t realize how cool they were until I got old enough to appreciate music. People like Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash. I had no idea they were as cool as they are. … It was the ’70s and ’80s, and then came MTV, and I was off and running in the MTV direction. I didn’t really think about singing or doing anything on my own.”

That came later, and it was a bumpy road getting there. She loved being “Willie’s kid,” but “it was difficult in Texas,” she concedes. “I got in a bunch of trouble in high school — just adolescent angst, y’know.” She says she “went into treatment willingly” at a rehab facility her mom found near San Diego: “I got to go to California and hang out by the pool!”

She got sober, stayed and worked as a counselor for four years. But when she turned 23, she says, “I wasn’t sure who I was.” Music guided her back to Texas. She’d written an a cappella song that, during a visit to Austin, her mom encouraged her to sing to longtime family friend and celebrated club owner Clifford Antone — who taught Nelson to play guitar and invited her to sing in his club “any time.”

“He was very influential in my career,” Nelson says gratefully. “He helped me get over the stage fright. He’d have people playing there in his club and he’d have me get up to sing ‘Te Ni Nee Ni Nu,’ an old Slim Harpo blues song.”

She released her first album, “Coming Home,” in 1997; “Fireflies” followed in 2002. After a brief sojourn as a massage therapist in Colorado, she’s back to making music. More stylistically akin to Bonnie Raitt than Willie, she’s currently “putting pins on the map,” barnstorming the country promoting “Lucky 13,” a polished collection that balances roadhouse rockers with tough-edged ballads. Willie and her younger brother accompany her on the melodic “Day to Day Love.”

“I used to be really, really concerned with what people thought of me,  so it would terrify me to be up onstage. Now I’m not afraid of what people think. I just get up there and sing my songs with my friends. … This is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is my way I can connect with people.”

The Paula Nelson Band plays Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, at 2 p.m. Saturday; $15. For reservations and information, call (626) 398-7917.

Jan 23 2009 6:00P
The Torch Club Sacramento, California
Jan 24 2009 3:00P
The Coffee Gallery Backstage Altadena, California
Jan 25 2009 7:00P
Don Quixote’s International Music Hall Santa Cruz, California
Jan 27 2009 9:00P
The Mint Los Angeles, California
Jan 28 2009 8:00P
Coach House San Juan Capistrano, California
Jan 29 2009 8:00P
Rhythm Room Phoenix, Arizona
Jan 30 2009 8:00P
Santa Fe Brewing Co. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jan 31 2009 9:00P
Railroad Blues Alpine, Texas
Feb 7 2009 9:00P
River Ridge Restaurant & Saloon Thackerville, Oklahoma
Feb 8 2009 7:00P
Clubhouse Concert Series w/George Devore & Waylon Payne Fort Worth, Texas
Feb 12 2009 8:30P
Dosey Doe The Woodlands, Texas
Feb 14 2009 11:00P
Sholem Dance Hall Brownsville, Texas
Feb 21 2009 8:00P
Private Galveston, Texas
Feb 22 2009 4:00P
Gruene Hall New Braunfels, Texas
Feb 25 2009 9:00P
Newby’s w/Randy Rogers Band Memphis, Tennessee
Feb 27 2009 9:00P
Smith’s Olde Bar Atlanta, Georgia
Feb 28 2009 8:00P
Puckett’s Farm Equipment Charlotte, North Carolina
Mar 1 2009 7:00P
Berkeley Cafe Raleigh, North Carolina
Mar 3 2009 9:30P
Iota Club & Cafe Arlington, Virginia
Mar 4 2009 7:30P
Rex Theatre Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mar 6 2009 9:00P
Hill Country New York City, New York
Mar 7 2009 9:00P
Hill Country New York City, New York
Mar 9 2009 8:00P
Sellersville Theater Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Mar 11 2009 8:00P
FitzGerald’s Berwyn, Illinois
Mar 12 2009 10:00P
Knuckleheads Kansas City, Missouri
Mar 13 2009 10:00P
Hangin’ Judge Saloon Fort Smith, Arkansas
Mar 26 2009 4:30P
Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo Austin, Texas
Mar 29 2009 3:00P
Tom B. Webb IV Celebration of Life & Music Luling, Texas
Apr 10 2009 7:00P
C4 Amphitheater Cave Creek, Arizona
Apr 18 2009 8:00P
Texas Crawfish Festival Spring, Texas
Apr 19 2009 8:00P
Dell Diamond w/Reckless Kelly Round Rock, Texas
May 29 2009 9:00P
Firehouse Saloon Houston, Texas
May 30 2009 8:00P
Tails & Tunes Port O’Connor, Texas
Jul 24 2009 8:00P
Country Rendez – Vou Festival Craponne, Auvergne
Jul 31 2009 8:00P
Billy Bob’s Saloon Disney Marne La Vallee
Sep 24 2009 7:00P
Private Bastrop, Texas

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