Country Line Magazine – February 2016
It seems that every month I write about Willie Nelson. What is it about this guy that keeps his career going so strong at 80 plus years old? Guess it’s because he’s Willie Nelson and we aren’t. He just received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Washington, D.C., he’s touring with buddy Merle Haggard this spring and he has several new albums in the planning stages. More on Willie later, right now let’s talk about his talented son, Lukas Nelson and his band, Promise of the Real. They will release their third album ‘Something Real’ on March 11th. Their fans will find more of what the band calls “cowboy hippie surf rock,” just like on their previous releases. The band, featuring brothers Lukas and Micah Nelson, Corey McCormick, Tato Melgar and Anthony LoGerfo, recorded the album at San Francisco’s William Westerfeld Mansion, once home to Janis Joplin. They shot the video for the title track at the historic mansion. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Neil Young adds his vocals to “San Francisco,” continuing a relationship that began with the band joining Young on his 2015 album ‘The Monsanto Years.’ The two younger Nelson boys seem to be following closely in their father’s footsteps, which isn’t a bad thing for us fans.
The Randy Rogers Band just released their latest CD titled ‘Nothing Shines Like Neon,’ a collection of twang-heavy anthems and barroom weepers. Produced by Buddy Cannon, the new CD features some fellow outlaws like Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss and Jerry Jeff Walker. Though you might not consider Krauss an outlaw, she certainly records music that doesn’t fit into the current mainstream country format. Johnson lends his voice to the rowdy “Actin’ Crazy,”
Krauss sings on the gorgeous “Look Out Yonder” and Walker helps on “Taking It As It Comes,” a song he had a hit with many years ago. Rogers’ last release was the duets album with Wade Bowen called ‘Hold My Beer, Vol. 1,’ a record that appeared on many best of 2015 lists. Randy plans to hit the road in March in support of the new album.
Now, back to Ol’ Willie news. I received over a dozen press releases in the short time span of two weeks, just on Willie. So, either this guy is super busy or has a fantastic press agent or maybe both, but it continues to amaze me at the work ethic of a performer well into their eight decade on this planet. One bit of news was funny, reporting that Willie would be joining pop singer Cyndi Lauper on her upcoming Nashville album. The actual song they plan on doing hasn’t been announced just yet, but the pairing of these two is as unlikely as when Willie sang with Julio Iglesias. The album will be released on Sire Records, but no actual date has been announced at press time.
As I mentioned earlier, Willie traveled to Washington D.C. in November to become the first country artist to receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. From his seat he watched Neil
Young, Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Jamey Johnson and many more play his songs. “It is
a great honor,” Nelson said at the time, taking the moment to make an announcement: “I have been a fan of Ira and George Gershwin’s music since I was a little guy. In appreciation for the award, I’ve just recorded a complete Gershwin tribute album.” The new CD is titled “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” has a release date of February 26th on Sony Legacy recordings. Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings produced the album, which will feature 11 of what Nelson calls “some of the greatest songs ever.” The track list includes: I Got Rhythm, Summertime, Love is Here to Stay, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off and Embraceable You. “The Gershwin songs have been here for many, many years,” Nelson said. “When I was just a small guy, I remember hearing all these great Gershwin songs and they’ll be around forever because great music like that just does not go away.” At 82, Nelson still releases at least an album a year, including last year’s Merle Haggard collaboration Django and Jimmie, and 2014’s Band of Brothers, his first LP of new songs in almost 20 years. In March he will headline the annual “Luck Reunion,” a music-and-food festival happening on his Austin ranch during South by
Southwest. You can catch the Gershwin Award Show PBS TV stations. You can see Willie and Merle in April for a three night stand at Whitewater Amphitheater. For ticket info, go to whitewaterrocks.com.
On February 5th, Lucinda Williams will release her 12th studio album, ‘The Ghosts of Highway 20.’ One month later, the Grammy winner will launch her latest tour, which kicks off in Los Angeles on March 4th and is currently set to wrap with a pair of shows at historic Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas, April 22nd and 23rd. The trek includes a five-night stint at New York City’s City Winery beginning March 13th. The Ghosts of Highway 20 weaves a spellbinding 14-track story that’s centered on the 1,500-mile stretch of highway (Interstate 20) that runs from Georgia to Texas, and finds the singer-songwriter experimenting with a variety of different styles. Williams was inspired by poems of her legendary father, poet Miller Williams, who died on New Year’s Day 2015. She does a cool cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Factory,’ which was a somber ode to his father. She also puts her musical stamp on “House of Earth,” which features a set of lost Woody Guthrie lyrics. In September, Williams performed “Ghosts of Highway 20” and other songs alongside friends Rosanne Cash and Emmylou Harris during Cash’s Country Music Hall of Fame residency. Here are Lucinda’s Texas tour dates: April 17 & 18 in Dallas at the Kessler Theater and April 22 & 23 in New Braunfels at Gruene Hall.
Glenn Frey, Eagles guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, passed away Monday January 18 at the age of 67. “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder, Glenn Frey, in New York City on Monday, January 18th, 2016. Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia,” the Eagles wrote in a statement released that day. “The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery,” the statement continued. “Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide.” In a separate statement, Texas native and Eagles co-founder Don Henley said of Frey, “He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved. We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream: to make our mark in the music industry and with perseverance, a deep love of music, our alliance with other great musicians and our manager, Irving Azoff, we built something that has lasted longer than anyone
could have dreamed. But, Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan.” Henley continued, “He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply
talented and driven. He loved is wife and kids more than anything. We are all in a state of shock, disbelief and profound sorrow. We brought our two-year History of the Eagles Tour to a triumphant close at the end of July and now he is gone. I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet. It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But, I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life. Rest in peace, my brother. You did what you set out to do, and then some.” Frey is survived by his wife Cindy and children Taylor, Deacon and Otis. His manager Irving Azoff told the press that a memorial for Frey is currently being planned.