Listen Up! Nathaniel Rateliff “Willie’s Birthday Song”

shotgun willie

Today the honorable Texas Yoda turns 87. This is no small feat for anyone let alone a musician that has spent most of his working life on the road. In fact, he’s so indelibly tied to life on the road that one of his best known and most popular songs tells the tales of those asphalt escapades.

When the unthinkable (by most of us) happened and COVID-19 resulted in a nationwide lockdown impacting small businesses, in general, and specifically, the music industry – musicians, venues, and associated staff, for the first time in recent memory (not involving illness) Willie was off the road.

This worried me. COVID-19 has been documented a higher mortality rate in older folks, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Add to that being denied the opportunity to indulge in a profession you love (touring), and the passing of John Prine (and diagnosis of many others) and my worried mind goes to Willie.

Seeing Willie and his son Lukas MCing the recent 4/20 showcase brought me a lot of relief. Aside from some of the usual characteristics you’d expect of a Willie 87 year-old man he appeared happy and engaged as the artists lined up to sing his praises as well as some of their very fine tunes.

One of those artists was Nathaniel Ratelif who did a wonderful solo acoustic version of a new song created just for the occasion “Willie’s Birthday Song.”

Now the cut has been formally released and it sounds even better. Done in a time signature that will be familiar to any Willie fan. The video was shot in isolation, the video features performances and as it moves along stars move in and out o feature impressive array support from of long-time of Willie’s family sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, and famed harmonica player Mickey Raphael to some of the next generation Lukas and Micah Nelson, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Nikki Lane, and Courtney Marie Andrews

Rateliff finished the song on March 12th when he arrived home in Denver after postponing the And It’s Still Alright tour. Following social distancing guidelines, Rateliff assembled a talented group of family and friends for the song who filmed their performances for the Rett Rogers.

The song was clearly one done out of love and appreciation from all those involved. It ends joyously with a snippet of Willie being served a chocolate birthday cake and grinning from ear-to-ear.

“Willie’s Birthday Song” will appear on the B-side of a limited edition 7” that will be released this summer exclusively at online merch shop. The A-side will be a duet by Rateliff and Willie, which will at that time be available digitally. Proceeds will support Farm Aid, whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land, and StrongHearts Native Helpline, which confronts issues of domestic violence in the Native American community.

Go bless Willie Nelson and Happy birthday!

Americana Music Association Releases First Half of 15th Annual AmericanaFest Bill


The Americana Music Association continues its tradition of showcasing some of the best in Americana and roots music by it’s partial roster of Americanfest performers released today.

Though the lineup doesn’t show any groundbreaking direction, I’m fine with that. There are lots of folks on the list that have been busting their hump for years and deserve this recognition rather then inserting acts to placate outsider accusations of one thing or another. Personally I’m happy to see Casa Twang favorites Howlin’ Brothers, Jamestown Revival, John Moreland, Lera Lynn, Marah and Ben Miller Band on the bill. And Texas is well-represented by Billy Joe Shaver, Sarah Jarosz, Jason Eady and Hayes Carll

The event is celebrating its 15th as the premier Americana event by welcoming 160 performers taking the stage at 11 venues including 3rd & Lindsley, The Basement, City Winery, High Watt, Cannery, Mercy Lounge, The Rutledge, Station Inn, Music City Roots, Downtown Presbyterian Church and Musicians Corner.

Three-time Americana Group of the Year, The Avett Brothers, will headline the event at Riverfront Parl on Saturday Sept. 20. Americana’s Music Festival & Conference registrations will have access. Tickets for the general public will go on sale Friday, June 27 at 10AMat

Check out THE Americanafest 2014 Spotify playlist.

The first half of Americanafest’s performing artist list includes:

Allison Moorer
Amy Ray
Angaleena Presley
The Avett Brothers
The Barefoot Movement
Ben Miller Band
Billy Joe Shaver
Black Prairie
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay
Buddy Miller
The Cactus Blossoms
Carlene Carter
Caroline Rose
Chatham County Line
Chuck Mead
Danny & The Champions of the World
The Deadly Gentleman
Del Barber
The Deslondes
Doug Seegers
The Duhks
The Dustbowl Revival
Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo
Ethan Johns
The Fairfield Four
The Grahams
Grant-Lee Phillips
Green River Ordinance
Greensky Bluegrass
Gregory Alan Isakov
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
Hayes Carll
Howlin’ Brothers
Immigrant Union
Israel Nash
Jamestown Revival
Jason Eady
JD Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Joe Henry
Joe Pug
Joe Purdy
John Moreland
Jonah Tolchin
Jonny Two Bags
Josh Ritter
Joshua James
Lake Street Dive
Lee Ann Womack
Leo Welch
Lera Lynn
Marah Presents: Mountain Minstrelsy
Marty Stuart
Matthew Ryan
McCrary Sisters
Nathaniel Rateliff
New Country Rehab
Oh Susanna
Otis Gibbs
Parker Millsap
Paul Thorn
Pete Molinari
Quebe Sisters Band
Rhett Miller
Robbie Fulks
Robyn Hitchcock
Rodney Crowell
Ruthie Foster
Ryan Montbleau
Sam Outlaw
Sarah Jarosz
Sean Rowe
Shakey Graves
Suzy Bogguss
Todd Snider & Friends
Tom Freund
Tony Joe White
Trigger Hippy (feat. Jackie Greene, Joan Osbourne, Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac & Nick Govrik)
Whiskey Shivers
Willie Watson

The 15th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference occurs September 17-21, 2014 in Nashville, Tenn. The 13th annual Americana Honors & Awards Show on Sept. 17 at the historic Ryman Auditorium.