SXSW: At Scoot Inn, a ‘backstage’ peek at life of a legendary roadie

There were two things happening at the eastern fringe of SXSW on Friday afternoon.

In the sun-splashed dirt courtyard of the Scoot Inn beer garden, the Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion was in the final stretch of a three-day run — Erika Wennerstrom’s enormous voice on “Extraordinary Love” was swamping the place like a tsunami, drowning out pockets of disinterest.

But inside Scoot Inn proper — what was on this afternoon the “Roadie Lounge” — the star of the afternoon was a legend on a different level. Ben Dorcy, who maintained his title of “oldest living roadie” by working until the week he died at the age of 92 last September, was being celebrated with sneak peeks at a documentary 13 years in the making.

Every now and then Amy Nelson, daughter of Ben’s longtime employer Willie, would try to bring the two events together, speaking to the outside crowd of the virtues of “Lovey” — as Dorcy was known to those close to him. But still, a separation remained: The show and … backstage.

For an event honoring the original roadie, it was only natural.

Erika Wennerstrom plays during The Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion at Scoot Inn during SXSW Fri., March 16, 2018 JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

It was fitting that the Scoot Inn would host — it is one of the few Austin bars old enough to encompass the legacy of Dorcy, who was born in 1925, two years before the first jukebox. After serving as gardener and valet to John Wayne, Dorcy would hit the road for 65 years with the giants of country music.

Inside the dark and cool interior of the historic bar, the first 15 minutes of the documentary: “Lovey: King of the Roadies” began with Dorcy aboard Willie’s bus, sharing a joint with his old boss and recounting stories of misbehavior and wild times. It is a professional and polished film of music legends sharing what is legendary to them. Among the many icons on screen, we don’t lose sight of who the star of this show is. There’s Dorcy, shuffling along on his cane, his countenance weathered to sharp angles. In portraits, his eyes are inscrutable. In snapshots with friends, they are alive with joy.

RELATED: Remembering Ben Dorcy, ‘King of the Roadies’ and a Texas legend

“He took care of all these stars with this star power,” Amy Nelson said. “And he had that same kind of star power. He could have been an actor, too. He was hanging around all these amazing people and he chose to serve them.”

Amy Nelson — there on Friday alongside her co-producers of the film, David Anderson and Lana Nelson — co-directed the film with her cousin Trevor Doyle Nelson. Her love for the man who was part of the Willie Nelson Family band, and by extension, her own family, was apparent in her conversation … and also in the years she has spent on the film.

All along, she pictured Dorcy at events like these and on the red carpet at the premiere. “It was hard to keep working on (the documentary) after he was gone,” she said. But Austin’s High Brew Coffee stepped in at that moment to help push the project forward.

Now Amy Nelson says the film is nearly complete and she hopes to have details like publishing and licensing complete in time for the fall film festival season.

Ben Dorcy got his start in the music business working for Hank Thompson, but also was connected to Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash.

Inside the Scoot Inn, Dorcy’s fellow roadies are lined up for free custom earplugs being given out this afternoon by MusiCares. Those not on barstools having their ears peered into are watching the screen as Jamey Johnson sings a cover of “Night Life.” Toward the end of the clip, Dorcy is shown in the plaza of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, when a fellow in a Batman costume sidles up to him. “Where are the drugs going?” he asks. Is it a real moment or a setup? Either way, Dorcy’s reaction is authentic: “Get away from me!” he snarls.

The room erupts in laughter. These pros know, the meek don’t survive 65 years on the road.

RELATED: The Year in Willie, a look back at Nelson’s busy 2017

Dorcy was connected to Willie for many of those years, but he also worked with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Ray Price, George Jones and Waylon Jennings, among others.

In his later years, Dorcy was connected to a similar run of “Texas music” artists: Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Kevin Fowler, Josh Abbott, Cody Canada and, particularly, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen.

As it turns out, it’s no accident that Dorcy stayed on the road with the younger generation — those artists and their roadies worked together to take care of the man who had no living relatives.

“All of these fellow roadies were becoming like his sons,” Amy Nelson said. “They would network and figure out where Ben was going and where he going to work and where he was going to spend the holidays and how they were going to pay his rent.”

“It was amazing to see this brotherhood and how they came together to take care of their fellow roadie.”

It was in this spirit that Joel Schoepf (former roadie who now works for John T. Floore Country Store) and John Selman (Willie Nelson stage manager) created the Live Like Lovey foundation, to help benefit other roadies who need financial assistance.

A silent auction at the Scoot Inn on Friday, featuring items ranging from Willie-signed bandanas to original Jerry Garcia art, helped raise funds for the roundation. Looming over the auction was a huge framed movie poster for the “Lovey: KIng of the Roadies” documentary.

Before he died in September, Dorcy did see a cut of the hour and 40 minute film about his life. His judgment?

“He loved it,” Amy Nelson said. “After 20 minutes, he was like ‘I like it.’ And when it was over he said, ‘I love it.’”

“Thank God.”

Willie Nelson away on his birthday? That’s OK, Trey Anastasio will play along

Willie Nelson turned 84 on Saturday. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman 2016

Out west at the annual Stagecoach Festival in the California desert, Willie Nelson celebrated his 84th birthday Saturday night with a show that included an all-star jam at the end featuring the likes of Neil Young, Jamey Johnson, Margo Price and X’s John Doe. But his birthday didn’t go unacknowledged back here.

Playing to a packed house on the outdoor stage at Stubb’s, Trey Anastasio — frontman for jam-band-deluxe Phish and recent Grateful Dead recruit — worked a familiar tune into his set. Willie may have been on the road, but if you were at Stubb’s, you still got to hear “On the Road Again”:

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Trey Anastasio Band. #doinglife #concerts #treyanastasio #stubbs #datenight

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Over at Antone’s, songwriter Bruce Robison had just the right tune for the occasion. He wrote “What Would Willie Do?” more than a decade ago as a salute to the Red Headed Stranger, and at the release party for his new record, he played it, leading directly into “Whiskey River.” (Thanks to Bryan Noteboom for the heads-up.)

Did you hear an Austin musician play a Willie song last night in his honor? If so, let us know in the comments. In the meantime, check out our extended review of Nelson’s latest record, “God’s Problem Child,” which came out Friday:

Willie Nelson’s new album proves how musically sharp he remains at 84

The Picnic is back! Willie Nelson returns to Circuit of the Americas for July 4

Willie Nelson is bringing his Fourth of July Picnic back to Circuit of the Americas again in 2017. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

If it’s Independence Day, this must be Willie Nelson. For the third straight year, Austin’s pride and joy will celebrate the Fourth of July with more than a dozen of his musician pals at Circuit of the Americas, the latest installment in a tradition that stretches back more than four decades.

Tickets, $39.50-$89.50, go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21, via the venue’s website or by phone at 800-745-3000. The parking lots will open at 10 a.m., with gates opening at 11 a.m. and music beginning immediately thereafter on the Grand Plaza stage. Marquee acts will start on the main Austin360 Amphitheater stage later in the day. (Set times have not yet been announced.)

The writing was on the wall when word went out last week that Nelson and Blackbird Presents had organized a traveling “Outlaw Country Fest” in early July, with a handful of dates in Texas and beyond but a suspicious void on the holiday itself. The only real question that remained was who would join Willie and his Family Band on the Picnic bill.

The answer: Sheryl Crow, Kacey Musgraves, Jamey Johnson, Steve Earle, Margo Price, Asleep at the Wheel, Turnpike Troubadours, Hayes Carll, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Bush, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Insects vs. Robots, Raelyn Nelson Band and Folk Uke. (The last four of those acts feature members of Nelson’s extended family.)

The top end of the bill is less of a boys’ club than it has been in recent years. Crow is appearing on all of the other Outlaw Country Fest dates, so her inclusion was no surprise. Musgraves has developed a close relationship with Nelson since playing the 2015 Picnic at Circuit of the Americas; they teamed up for a video shot at East Austin honky-tonk the White Horse. And Price, who performed at the Luck Reunion on Willie’s ranch during SXSW, was a bright star in last year’s Picnic lineup.

Besides native Texan songwriters Earle and Carll and red-hot Oklahoma country rockers Turnpike Troubadours, the lineup features the like-Picnic-clockwork triptych of three-named rabble-rousers in Shaver, Hubbard and Coe. Also dependably present every July 4 is Bush, the fellow who wrote Nelson’s show-opening classic “Whiskey River.” And Johnson has become one of the event’s true stars in recent years, delivering a memorable performance with Alison Krauss on the main stage in 2016.

A few other big names in the Outlaw Fest mix didn’t make it into the Picnic lineup. The Avett Brothers, who help kick off the Outlaw shows in New Orleans and Dallas on July 1 and July 2, already were booked in Kansas for July 4. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, playing three Outlaw Fest dates, had July 4 open but were a nonstarter because they’re playing a three-night stand July 14-16 at ACL Live. And Bob Dylan, who’s on the final two Outlaw Fest gigs up north, is touring Canada the first week of July.


Willie Nelson, Avett Brothers help Ray Benson celebrate 66th birthday

When Ray Benson throws a birthday party, you probably want to be there if you can. Two years ago, Gary Clark Jr. showed up to jam. Last year it was George Strait. So the thousand or so folks who filled up advertising firm GSD&M’s back yard on Tuesday probably knew something special was coming.

They got it in the last hour. First the Avett Brothers joined Benson and his Asleep at the Wheel bandmates, playing a mini-set focused on songs from Bob Wills’ catalog. The topper was Willie Nelson, who ambled onstage at about 9:30 to swing this party home in true Texas style.

Willie Nelson, right, performs with Ray Benson as the Avett Brothers’ Seth Avett joins in behind them at GSD&M on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

From his trademark opener “Whiskey River” to the equally classic closer “On the Road Again,” Nelson whirled through about a dozen tunes that put smiles on everyone’s faces. He tossed in a few curveballs, too, including “I Woke Up Still Not Dead Again Today” from his upcoming album due this spring, and a great jazz instrumental that found brothers Scott and Seth Avett watching Willie’s fingers on his trusty guitar Trigger with wide-eyed wonder and awe.

WATCH: More video of Willie Nelson at Ray Benson birthday bash

Maybe best of all was a heartfelt cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho & Lefty,” with Benson taking the final verse. It wasn’t the first Townes tune sung at the show; earlier, Charlie Sexton and Shannon McNally delivered a beautiful take on “No Place to Fall.” hot on the heels of Benson and Wade Bowen’s version of “Dublin Blues” by Van Zandt’s close friend Guy Clark.

The night was full of great song selections. The Avetts’ set featured Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” a nice follow-through on Bowen and Randy Rogers’ earlier rendition of the Hag’s “Workin’ Man Blues.” Carolyn Wonderland, joined by Shelley King (and later Marcia Ball as well), lit the joint on fire with Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” while Brennen Leigh got things rolling early with Lefty Frizzell’s country classic “I Love You a Thousand Ways.”

A mid-show highlight was Sunny Sweeney’s sweet rendition of Chris Wall’s 1980s ballad “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight,” recently revived for her new album that came out last week. A half-hour break between the early guests and the surprise headliners allowed patrons to visit booths where donations were being accepted for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Benson’s designated beneficiary for the event.

READ MORE: Austin’s musicians show their support for HAAM


Gone Country: The most anticipated albums of 2017

Country fans had a lot to celebrate last year, but 2017 is shaping up to be just as good, if not better than 2016. Artists like Maren Morris and Eric Church are headed back on tour, and old legends like Marty Stuart and Reba McEntire are recording new material, and young up-and-comers like Luke Combs are poised to make 2017 their breakout year.

While there’s been a fair amount of speculation on who’s headed back into the studio, there are still a lot of confirmed release dates that are already on my calendar. Here’s a list of the albums I’m most excited for, divided up by month:


Alison Krauss, “Windy City,” Feb. 17

Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss perform at the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 4, 2016. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss perform at the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 4, 2016. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Krauss’ first album in 17 years is a collection of bluegrass and country rarities and standards by artists like Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers. Her take on Brenda Lee’s “Losing You” is heartbreaking and beautiful, replacing the trumpets on the original with lilting steel guitars.

Rhiannon Giddens, “Freedom Road,” Feb. 24

Rhiannon Giddens plays ACL Fest 2015. Suzanne Cordeiro for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Rhiannon Giddens plays ACL Fest 2015. Suzanne Cordeiro for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
2016 saw Giddens’ profile rise after she became that year’s recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass and also sang the backup vocals on Eric Church’s election-year antidote “Kill a Word.” Oh, and she also played a killer set at her “Austin City Limits” taping. The Americana/roots artist is slated for a Feb. 24 release of “Freedom Road,” only her second album. The 12-track LP will feature nine originals plus a Staples Singers cover (the title track).

Aaron Watson, “Vaquero,” Feb. 24

Photo from Flickr user Amy Claxton.
Photo from Flickr user Amy Claxton.
Watson’s 2015 album “The Underdog” shot him to a wider audience in 2016 after it became the first album from a male artist to ever reach Number One on the country charts without a record deal. While the title may belie the fact, “The Underdog” was Watson’s 12th album. His next, “Vaquero,” seems to stick to his formula of traditionalist country with a little bit of modern flair.


Sunny Sweeney, “Trophy,” March 10

Texas-born Sunny Sweeney’s latest album features four songs penned with Lori McKenna and guest spots from Trisha Yearwood, Ray Benson and Jack Ingram.


Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child”

Willie Nelson tapes a piece in the Pedernales Recording Studio for the US premiere of the Irish music series Other Voices on October 3, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman
Willie Nelson tapes a piece in the Pedernales Recording Studio for the US premiere of the Irish music series Other Voices on October 3, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman
Nelson’s latest album will feature “Delete and Fast-Forward,” his take on the 2016 election, as well as a song co-written by Jamey Johnson. The Red-Headed stranger’s age hasn’t slowed his creative output, and I’m hoping Austin’s favorite hippie finds a way to live forever.


Zac Brown Band, “Welcome Home,” May 12

The Zac Brown Band closes out the concert season at Circuit of the Americas. Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media
The Zac Brown Band closes out the concert season at Circuit of the Americas. Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media
After taking a detour with “Jekyll + Hyde” and Brown’s ill-advised side-project Sir Roosevelt, ZBB is going back to their stripped-down style, complete with a new tour to go along with it. The “Welcome Home” tour will kick off in Atlanta on the same day as the album’s release.

“The album will be straight back to our roots, ‘Foundation’-style,'” Brown told Rolling Stone Country.

To Be Announced

The following artists have all promised upcoming albums this year, but haven’t set dates yet:

Jason Isbell

Isbell tweeted on New Year’s eve that he was hard at work on a follow-up to “Something More Than Free.” Early reports say Isbell will again put Dave Cobb at the controls, and that the album has started tracking this month.

Marty Stuart, Early 2017

Stuart’s followup to 2014’s “Saturday Night/Sunday Morning” will focus on California, where the bulk of the album was recorded.

Shania Twain

Twain’s last album was the 2002 double-album “Up!” In the 15 years since, she’s performed a residency in Vegas, gotten divorced and written a book. Expect some personal material from the Canadian superstar.

Chris Stapleton

Stapleton’s sophomore album should be coming soon, and he’s already been trying some of the songs out on tour. It’s rumored to be coming out in the spring; a single should be released in the next couple of months.

Margo Price

One of the biggest travesties in country music last year was the lack of major awards recognition given to “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” Price’s debut. She tweeted on Dec. 21 that her new album was in the works. She told Rolling Stone Country in December that she’s “been writing a lot, because there is so much going on in the world and so much going on with me internally.” Her NPR Tiny Desk concert from November might point to some of the album’s subject matter.

Corey Smith

The Jefferson, Ga. wordsmith is famous in the southeast for three things: his rigorous touring schedule, his poignant songwriting and his N.W.A.-by-way-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line anti-police screeds “F The Po-Po” and “Chattanooga.” He tweeted in November that he has new songs and is going out on tour again. In the meantime, his latest, “While The Gettin’ Is Good,” is available now.

Straight-Up Speculation

None of these have been formally announced, but I’m holding out for these dark horses for 2017:

A Jamey Johnson album

Johnson hasn’t released a full-length solo project full of original songs since 2010’s “The Guitar Song.” He’s been content to write songs for others for the most part, and those are all fantastic, but hearing other people sing his words just makes me want a new album even more.

A Cody Jinks album

The Fort Worth native just today announced a new song, presumably a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” That might mean he’s following up the stellar “I’m Not The Devil” with something more experimental. Or it could just be a one-off.

A Josh Turner album

Turner’s been in the middle of album woes (presumably brought on by his record label) for five years. His last full-length album, “Punching Bag,” came out in 2012. “Lay Low” and “Hometown Girl” have been the only singles he’s released since then, and he’s told news outlets as recently as 2015 that he has an album ready to go, but it’s his record album that’s holding him back. Hopefully this will be the year his deep-based voice gets released from record label purgatory.

A Gary Allan album

Allan is in the same boat as Turner. “Set You Free,” Allan’s last album, was released in 2013 and he’s only put out some lackluster songs since then. He was supposed to have a new album out in 2015. Maybe this year will be his year.

A Dixie Chicks album (live or studio)

You don’t go on a world tour and NOT release a DVD, or an album, or something. Come on.

Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. For info about album releases and concerts, check out this week’s Country Music Roundup.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at

Willie Nelson’s next album will feature a song inspired by the 2016 election

Willie Nelson was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election cycle, but now that Nov. 8 has come and gone, he said he has written his takeaway from the election in a song.

100316 willie nelson studio
Willie Nelson tapes a piece in the Pedernales Recording Studio for the US premiere of the Irish music series Other Voices on October 3, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

“Delete and fast-forward, my friend/ The elections are over and nobody wins/ But don’t worry too much, you’ll go crazy again/ Delete and fast forward, my friend,” were the lyrics he spoke to Rolling Stone Country in an interview published Friday.

The lyrics, from a song called “Delete and Fast-Forward” from Nelson’s upcoming album “God’s Problem Child,” uses a refrain Nelson has been using since at least August of 2015, when he told GQ Magazine that “delete and fast-forward, start over again” was his “new motto.”

Another interview with “The Cannabist” in October of 2016 had Nelson telling an interviewer these lyrics to the song (possibly another verse): “Delete and fast-forward, my son. The wars are all over, and nobody won. But don’t worry too much about it. You’ll just go crazy again. So just delete and fast-forward, my friend.”

More: Read more Willie Nelson coverage here

Nelson told RS Country that he’s not too concerned about the upcoming Trump administration’s stance on marijuana laws:

“I didn’t have any problem finding [marijuana] when it was illegal, and now that it’s legal, it’s still no problem. Making it illegal again won’t stop people from smoking. They should have learned that back in prohibition days.”

According to RS Country, the rest of the album will feature original songs co-written with producer Buddy Cannon, including “Still Not Dead.”

“I got up two or three times in the last couple of years and read the paper where I’d passed away,” Nelson said. “So I just wanted to let ’em know that’s a lot of horse****.”

Country Music Roundup: In Arlington, Dec. 27 is now Maren Morris Day

This Week’s News

Maren Morris‘ banner year isn’t over yet. On top of her CMA award for best New Artist and all the accolades she’s received for her breakthrough album “Hero,” she returned home to Arlington, Texas to receive another award.

Maren Morris receives a city proclamation from Arlington mayor Jeff Williams on Dec. 27 proclaiming that day to be Maren Morris Day in the city. (From Maren Morris’ Twitter.)

According to Taste of Country, the singer received a proclamation declaring Dec. 27 to be Maren Morris Day in Arlington. Morris was presented with the honor, as well as the flag that flew over the state capitol building in Austin when she was named the CMA New Artist of the Year, in her mother’s salon in downtown Arlington.

“I had the honor of receiving a city proclamation by the mayor of Arlington that states today, Dec 27th, is Maren Morris day! So cool!” Morris tweeted.

On Tuesday, Morris announced all proceeds from meet and greets held after stops on her Hero” tour to the fine arts program at her alma mater, Arlington Bowie High School.

This Week’s Best New Song

Speaking of Maren Morris, the quickest way to define Ryan Hurd’s pop-country singer-songwriter sound is that he’s kind of like the male version of Maren Morris. (They’re also dating in real life). Hurd has written for the likes of Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw and Jake Owen in the past and is now embarking on a solo expedition. His latest single from his debut EP features a different vocal cadence than most country songs, and is a modern take on the “doomed lovers” genre of sad country songs. It’s also really catchy.

This Week’s Worst New Song

Full disclosure: the stripped-down version of this song is actually really good, and if he’s smart, Young will find a way to get that version to the radio instead of this watered-down, drum-clapped take.

But the acoustic version of this song isn’t enough to save what’s clearly a niche-carving effort from Young. His earlier single, “Sleep Without You,” is all about how he can’t deal with one night away from his girlfriend while she goes out on the town with her friends. “In Case You Didn’t Know” (which will probably end up being 2017’s “Die a Happy Man”) is sweet and has all the right sentiments. It’s a great love song. But it sounds like it’s trying to emulate Thomas Rhett while also establishing that Young is country music’s new resident nice guy.

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic
Willie Nelson plays with the band Harmonic Tribe at his Fourth of July Picnic on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 in Fort Worth. Photo by Jeffery Washington, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Willie Nelson & Family at ACL Live, Dec. 29-31. Such a popular draw that it has now become a three-night affair, this year-end engagement instantly became an Austin institution when The House That Willie Built opened in 2011. It’s a pricey ticket, but then so are many New Year’s Eve events, and this one is legitimately iconic. Willie always brings along top-quality support acts, too; this year, Ryan Bingham opens all three nights, with his son’s band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real also on the Dec. 31 bill. Sometimes there are unbilled ringers, too, like when ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons played the whole show with Willie’s Family band a couple of years ago. (Although if we had to place odds on Gibbons turning up somewhere this time, we’d guess he might be one of the “special guests” promised at C-Boy’s on Dec. 30-31 where Mike Flanigin & Jimmie Vaughan are having a more intimate celebration.) $99-$157. 8 p.m. Dec. 29-30, 9 p.m. Dec. 31. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. — Peter Blackstock

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email:

Dolly Parton to receive Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award

Dolly Parton recently announced she will be the 2016 recipient of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dolly Parton at the Cedar Park Center, on Ocftober 7, 2011. Photo by Bret Brookshire for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Dolly Parton at the Cedar Park Center, on October 7, 2011. Photo by Bret Brookshire for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The award, which was created to “recognize an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales, and public representation at the highest level” will be presented during the 50th Annual CMA Awards Nov. 2.

Read More: Hear Willie Nelson’s new tribute to Ray Price on ‘It Always Will Be’

“Dolly epitomizes the very definition of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award,” CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern wrote in a news release. “She is a trailblazer who continues to enchant and captivate fans around the world, from her latest No. 1 album, to her sold-out tour, and numerous television projects. She is a treasure and deserving of this industry acclaim for her undeniable contributions to the success of Country Music, today.”

Parton is joining good company. Previous recipients of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award include Willie Nelson (2012), Kenny Rogers (2013), and Johnny Cash (2015). Parton has received 44 CMA Awards nominations and has won nine times including Entertainer (1978) and Female Vocalist of the Year (1975, 1976).

Read More: Catch up on all your Willie Nelson news on Austin 360

Parton, who will play the Frank Erwin Center this December, made the announcement Monday night during her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote her new album “Pure and Simple.”

On the show, Parton elaborated on her relationship with Nelson, which goes back to when Parton moved to Nashville in 1964.

“He had short hair, no beard, looked like a schoolteacher, but he’s such a great writer,” Parton told Kimmel. “But he’s just so hard to sing with, because his phrasing is just so different, it’s hard to keep up. We did a duet of  song I wrote, called “From Here to the Moon and Back” and he put his vocal down first, sent it to the studio to me, and trying to sing with him, I mean I was everywhere!

“I called him up and said, ‘Willie, send me a sack of that grass you’re smoking.'”

Kimmel joked, “See, I think it’s funny you’re getting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, because I feel like Willie Nelson just as easily could be getting the Dolly Parton Lifetime Achievement Award.”

“Well, maybe they’ll have that next year,” Parton shot back.

Watch the full video below.


Hear Willie Nelson’s new tribute to Ray Price on ‘It Always Will Be’

Country music legend Ray Price died in December 2013, but his legacy lives on, specifically though the actions of artists like Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson closes out the night at the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic at Austin360 Amphitheater on July 4, 2016. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Austin’s favorite Red-Headed Stranger wrote and recorded the love ballad “It Always Will Be” back in 2003. Price recorded the song on his last album, 2014’s “Beauty Is…” which was released shortly after his death.

Now, “It Always Will Be” appears in Nelson’s upcoming album, “For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price,” which will be released Sept. 16.

Read more Willie Nelson headlines on “Austin Music Source”

Nelson and Price have a long history that stretches back to the early 1960s, when Nelson played bass in the Cherokee Cowboys, Price’s touring band. His time with the band was brief, but the two of them became great friends over the years and even recorded a double album together in 2007.

The recording of the song is a full-circle moment for Nelson, he said in a video teasing the album’s release.

“People ask me who my favorite singers are, and I say, well, there’s Ray Price and there’s Frank Sinatra,” Nelson said in the video. “I don’t think there’s ever any doubt that one day I’d do a Ray Price tribute album.”

Album producer Fred Foster said, ” Ray said to me, ‘I don’t care what we do, I want to do ‘It Always Will Be.” And I know this would please Ray, that Willie’s doing this tribute to him…As much as Willie admired Ray, Ray equally admired Willie.”

Listen to the song below.

Freddy Powers, songwriting partner of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, dies at 84

Freddy Powers, a longtime songwriting partner of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, died Tuesday after a 12-year-long fight with Parkinson’s disease. He was 84 years old.

Musician Freddy Powers, seated, is surrounded by other musicians as he performs some of his original songs for the audience at the Poodie Locke Picnic.
Musician Freddy Powers, seated, is surrounded by other musicians as he performs some of his original songs for the audience at the Poodie Locke Picnic at the Backyard. 2009 photo by Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman

Powers co-wrote many of Haggard’s No. 1 hits, including “Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room” and “Natural High.” He also co-produced Willie Nelson’s platinum-selling 1981 album “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Here he is with both of them at Austin City Limits in 1984:

Powers was Haggard’s rhythm guitarist for more than 20 years. He even lived with Haggard for a time in California, where the two of them took up residence on houseboats on Lake Shasta, partying and writing songs. One of the results of this period was Haggard’s “A Friend in California.”

Powers was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004. After his diagnosis, he  started the Freddy Powers Parkinson Organization, which gives financial support to Texans who are also dealing with the disease.