Willie Nelson has long called his onstage backing crew the Family Band, but the bonds draw a little closer with “Willie Nelson and the Boys,” a new album due Oct. 20 on Legacy Recordings that features Willie collaborating with his sons Lukas and Micah Nelson.
It’s the second volume in the “Willie’s Stash” series of archival releases, following 2014’s outstanding “December Day” collaboration with his sister, pianist Bobbie Nelson.
The bulk of “Willie and the Boys” was recorded six years ago during the sessions for Willie’s 2012 album “Heroes.” Working at his studio in Spicewood with longtime producer Buddy Cannon and musicians from both Texas and Nashville, Willie recorded far more material than would fit on the “Heroes” record.
“There were about 12 songs leftover, and we turned that into a record with Willie and Micah and Lukas,” Cannon said in an interview with the Statesman in June. “Lukas was there when we recorded everything; he was in the middle of all of it. Micah’s vocals were done later.”
The idea was to get the three of them singing together on classic country songs, most of them from the Hank Williams catalog. The track list includes “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Mind Your Own Business” and “Move It On Over.”
A press release announcing the album quotes Willie as saying the album is “kind of like the country version of ‘Stardust.’ Where you have all these great songs and standards that the young people have never heard, then all of a sudden you have a whole new audience out there.”
In our June interview, Cannon raved about the performances of the musicians. “It was magic,” he said. “It was so easy to record this stuff; it was just fun. There was hardly any overdubbing at all; it was just all live playing. I’ve been hoping all this time that someday we’d get to put these things out.”
He also marveled at “Willie and Lukas and Micah singing some real tight vocal harmony. The blend of those guys is incredible; it’s something really unique.”
READ MORE: Lukas Nelson steps out on his own
Willie headlines Friday’s all-star “Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas” hurricane relief benefit at the Erwin Center. Lukas has a busy fall coming up with his band Promise of the Real, including appearances on both weekends of the Austin City Limits Music Festival (plus an official ACL Fest Late Night Show on Oct. 11 at Antone’s). Lukas and Micah also have played in Neil Young’s touring band supporting Young’s 2015 album “The Monsanto Years.” Micah also has worked with the bands Insects vs. Robots and Particle Kid.
Here’s the full track list of “Willie and the Boys”:
- Move It On Over (Hank Williams)
- Mind Your Own Business (Hank Williams)
- Healing Hands Of Time (Willie Nelson)
- Can I Sleep In Your Arms (Hank Cochran)
- Send Me The Pillow You Dream On (Hank Locklin)
- I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)
- I’m Movin’ On (Hank Snow)
- Your Cheatin’ Heart (Hank Williams)
- My Tears Fall (Alyssa Miller)
- Cold, Cold Heart (Hank Williams)
- Mansion On The Hill (Hank Williams/Fred Rose)
- Why Don’t You Love Me (Hank Williams)