Tracks Magazine October 2003 ” Willie Nelson Rides With Los Lonely Boys”

October 2003
Willie Nelson rides with Los Lonely Boys
by Richard Skanse
Part I

Passing the Torch
Willie Nelson

Kris Kristofferson enters Willie Nelson’s storied tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose, with a booming, amiable laugh.  The air is thick with sweet smoke, and Nelson greets his old friend with true stoner homie.  “C’mon in, Kris!” he offers with a wide grin.  “Get out of the weather, man!”

Kristofferson strides down the aisle and hugs Nelson, who sits at the small table where he entertains all his visitors.  “How are you?” he asks.  “You’ve got a big one going here!”  Kristofferson is referring to Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, which he’s held nearly every year since 1973.  This year it’s in the middle of the 27-acre Fort Worth Stockyards, on a flat, sunbaked field.  The 18,000 revelers are grooving to Nelson’s proteges, Henry, JoJo and Ringo Garza, better known as…

“Los Lonely Boys!”  Kristofferson exclaims as he take a seat on a couch to watch the performance on a video feed.

“Those guys are great, Kris,”  Nelson says.  “You seen them?” 

Kristofferson replies, “I seen ’em when you brought ’em to Maui.  They’re hot!  Some guy outside said, ‘They’re gonna do 20 minutes.’  I said, ‘Hah!  Maybe on the first song!'”

Nelson beams with parental pride.  While the Red Headed Stranger didn’t literally discover the trio, he has gone far beyond the call of celebrity cheerleader.  Shortly after Los Lonely Boys’ manager, Kevin Womack, invited Nelson and his nephew, the producer Freddy Fletcher, out to see the band at an Austin gig, Nelson put the still-unknown group in front of an audience of thousands at aa 2002 Farm Aid concert.  By last year’s 4th of July Picnic, the band was holding it’s own on a heady bill that also featured Neil Young and the Dead.  And now they’re the most hotly anticipated — and enthusiasticall received — act of the day.

“They have that brothe rharmony that is unmistakably family — just as close as you can get,”  Nelson marvels.  “Their musicianship is good, their writing’s good, and they’re just good guys.  They have everything it takes.”  When told that the Garzas have on more than one ocassion referred to him as thier very own Yoda, he chuckles.  “I’m old enough to be Yoda,” he says. 

Nelson would probably be onstage with the Boys right now trading blues licks with Henry Garza, if he weren’t under doctor’s orders not to play guitar for at least another six weeks:  his left hand is sheathed in a thick bandage after recent carpal tunnel surgery.  “It had gotten to the point where three different doctors said, “You’ve got to have surgery because the nerve is permanently damaged.  It’s taken a little longer to come back because there’s been some complications.”  Althought he admits he’s enjoyed the time off, which he’s spent mostly at his home in Maui with his fourth wife, Anne-Marie, and his two teenage boys, he’s clearly ready to get on the road again after nearly three months of cancelled gigs

… to be continued.

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