Willie Nelson & Family in El Paso on Valentines Day

Musicians including Lyle Lovett, Margo Price, Jason Isbell and Jack Johnson share stories about their friendship with Willie Nelson at a tribute concert to the country legend.

by:  Maria Cortes Gonzales

The iconic Willie Nelson, whose career spans six decades, will bring his concert to the Sun City on Valentine’s Day.

The legendary singer, who turned 85 in April, is known not only for his raspy, unmistakable voice and remarkable song writing but also as a businessman, activist and author. His book,  “It’s A Long Story: My Life,” landed him on the New York Times’ bestsellers list when it was published in 2015.

Here are five things to know about the singer with braided hair before you head out to the “Willie Nelson & Family” concert at the Abraham Chavez Theatre.

Daughter Paula Nelson is a singer and a host for Willie’s Roadhouse channel (named after her father) on Sirius. Daughter Amy and sons Micah and Lukas, often perform with their dad. Lukas has his own backing band, Promise of the Real.

In 2017, Lukas released an album, “Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real,” demonstrating he is coming into his own. He also has dabbled into acting, getting a small part in the 2018 film, “A Star is Born” and helped Bradley Cooper behind the scenes.

His music: Willie Nelson has had 200-plus albums. And he continues to be quite prolific. Last year, he released “Last Man Standing,” to celebrate his birthday. It is comprised of songs entirely penned by Nelson and his longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon.

On the album, he mentions friends like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Ray Price and wonders why he is one of the last men still standing.

In September, he also released “My Way,” a collection of classics originally made famous by Frank Sinatra, a close friend and musical colleague. In an interview with Harvey Levin’s “OBJECTified,” Nelson said he often liked to listen to Sinatra to pick up on his phrasing, saying his was scary or not understood by some people.

What he likes to play: Most likely, Nelson will play songs from his new album as well as favorites like “On the Road Again.” But he also enjoys singing gospel songs, as he grew up going to a Methodist church and listening to hymns.

He also enjoys playing Sinatra classics, such as his flawless rendition of “My Way.”

Vote ‘Em Out: Nelson doesn’t shy away from taking a stand when needed. And in 2018, he had ties to El Paso with his support of State Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Much bigger than a concert, nearly 55,000 people crammed into the Auditorium Shores in Austin in September for the Turn Out For Texas rally.

O’Rourke joined Nelson to sing “On the Road Again,” and the crooner debuted a new song to mark the occasion, “Vote ‘Em Out.”

“If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out,” he sang. “That’s what election day is all about, and the biggest gun we’ve got is called the ballot box. So if you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out.”

In 2015, he launched his own cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve, which sells marijuana, accessories and edibles in states where marijuana is legal.

And most recently, he launched Willie’s Remedy, a line that includes several items rich in cannaidiol (CBD), a derivative of hemp which won’t get the consumer high. CBD has been lauded for its health benefits.

The line debuted with a CBD-infused coffee, a Colombian whole-bean blend.

María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150; mcortes@elpasotimes.com; @EPTMaria on Twitter.

Make plans

Who: “Willie Nelson & Family” concert

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 14.

Where: Abraham Chavez Theatre

Tickets: $39.75 to $129.75 excluding fees, available at Ticketmaster.com, charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000 and the Plaza Theatre Box Office.

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