Singer, songwriter, legend, icon. What is there to say about Willie Nelson that you don’t already know?
Willie and Family – essentially the same band he’s toured with since the mid-’70s – return to Savannah for a concert in the Johnny Mercer Theatre. At 76, Willie’s probably country music’s hardest–working geezer – bear in mind, however, that he recently completed a CD and a cross–country tour with Ray Price, 83, and 72–year–old Merle Haggard.
I’ve interviewed Willie many, many times over the years. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes, from our conversations, from this grand master of the stage and the studio:
On whether he thinks he’s fearless for putting out two, three (or more) albums every single year: “If I am, I’m probably stupid. I think fearlessness and stupidity go together. It’s real corny, but the fist line that comes to my mind are words that I’ve followed all my life. There was a movie with Fess Parker playing Davy Crockett: ‘Be sure you’re right, and then go ahead,’ that was his motto. It’s corny, but goddamn it makes sense.”
On his distinctive vocal style: “Maybe I couldn’t do it exactly the way Ernest Tubb or Frank Sinatra did it, so I would do it the way that made it easy for me. It may sound strange, but as long as I get back in time and the beat is there...I’ve run a lot of drummers crazy trying to follow me, because I do lay behind or jump ahead a lot.”
On “outlaw” country music and bringing rednecks and hippies together: “I saw something that a lot of people didn’t see. I saw a whole new audience out there. The only difference between these guys and these guys is one of them has long hair and might smoke a little dope every now and then, and the other guy over here’s got short hair and drinks rotgut whiskey. It was gonna be difficult for them guys to ever get together unless they had some common ground. And I knew what the common ground was.”
On his wide–ranging musical choices: “When I was playing clubs, the same audience would ask for ‘Fraulein,’ and then they’d turn around and ask for ‘Moonlight In Vermont,’ or ‘Stardust’ or ‘San Antonio Rose,’ and then they’d ask for ‘Mansion On The Hill.’ Those people didn’t know labels out there; they just liked music. So it wasn’t hard for me to want to record all kinds of music.”
On today’s country music stars: “What’s funny to me, today they say, ‘Well, I wish I’d hear more of the old players – whatever happened to Randy Travis and George Strait?’ I knew when I heard that I was out of luck, that they forgot about me years ago.”
Not hardly, my friend.
At 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1 in the Johnny Mercer Theatre, Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave. Tickets $39.50–$59.50 through etix.com.
TRIBUTE BAND HALLOWEEN EVE
The Jinx goes out every year for All Hallow's Eve, and this year is no different. Friday night's show features performances by Savannah-area musicians paying tribute to their famous (and/or infamous) influences. Check out 138 (the Misfits), 10 ½ (Black Flag), Beat on the Brat (the Ramones), 7 Nation Army (the White Stripes), Apocalypse Dudes (Turbonegro) and Bottled Violence (Minor Threat). Friday's show starts at 9 p.m. (the better to squeeze all the bands in, my pretties), and the cover is $10. Saturday night's pirate-themed party will no doubt be a spectacle of Halloweenish proportions, but Friday's the tribute-band bash to beat. At 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
TURTLEFOLK HALLOWEEN EXTRAVAGANZA
They don't play in town all that much, but when Michael "Turtle" McCormick and his pals do book a local gig, it's an event. Domino Effect also performs Saturday night, with the festivities kicking off at 9 p.m., including a "scary costume contest," spooky surprises, and more jam-band rocking out than apple-bobbing. Tranceworthy Halloween vibes in your goodie bag: Sounds like a plan. Listen & learn: www.turtlefolk.net. At 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 at Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St.
No jack o'lantern punk or ghostly goth at the Sentient Bean on Halloween; instead, it's an acoustic performance from this high-energy, Atlanta-based singer/songwriter. Summer, born of a Tennessee farmboy father and a Thai mother, was previously the frontwoman for a rock ‘n' band called, understandably, Nanyana. She has a strong voice and an assertive nature; the band was once described as "Alanis Morrisette meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers." Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/nanyanasummer. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.