Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Joel gets to meet Willie

Think your job has perks? How about meeting Willie Nelson in his tour bus and getting a back stage pass for his show?

As the newest Farm Aid member I couldn’t believe my luck. This was my happy fate on a recent Saturday when Willie and crew rolled into town for a gig. Several of us from the Farm Aid office met with Willie to strategize on a range of issues and discuss the upcoming Farm Aid concert. I was the only one who hadn’t met Willie before. We pulled up to the tour bus behind the hotel and hung out for a few minutes, waiting for the signal to enter from David Anderson, Willie’s road manager and then we stepped onto the bus -- beautifully laid out with a lounge area, kitchen, and table in the front half, and private quarters in the back.

Meeting Willie was a great pleasure. He’d been out for an afternoon bike ride and had been resting prior to our meeting. Wearing cut off shorts, a T-shirt, and running shoes, he emerged from the back of the bus and shook hands all around.

Willie put us at ease immediately. He is a warm, cordial, soft-spoken, 70-something man with flowing gray hair, quick eyes, and zero pretension. He is also smart, articulate, and well informed. He is Farm Aid.

That evening, Willie and his band played non-stop for two hours, with Willie playing lead guitar the whole time. While his distinctively beautiful voice was familiar to me, I was stunned at the virtuosity of his guitar playing. I will be happy to pay to see this man play next time!

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