VISITING ACT ‌ Indefinitely On the Road Again 

Willie digs Texas swing and recycles grease

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Willie Nelson
Thurs. April 6
8 p.m.
$55, $45
Gaillard Municipal Auditorium
77 Calhoun St.
577-7400
www.willienelson.com

It seems the older country music superstar Willie Nelson gets, the less he cares about the public's perception of his many musical and various other side trips. That's, of course, going on the assumption that he ever did.

The 60-something outlaw country icon has proven, especially in the last few years, that he's got the nouveau-chic concept of multitasking down pat. With various album releases, a few film roles, a Brokeback Mountain-inspired one-off track ("Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other"), originally penned by campy songsmith Ned Sublette, and a new role as an ecological fuel entrepreneur, it's a wonder that Ol' Willie has time for any live appearances these days

Nelson's latest album, though, is sure to please those who dismissed his long-shelved reggae project as too sharp of a left turn. On the recently released You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, Nelson pays an affectionate tribute to the Texan songwriter who penned the set's title track for Ray Charles, as well as several legitimate standards for another Lone Star statesmen, bandleader Bob Wills.

Nelson's knack for tapping into the genuine sentimentality of Walker's lyrics, along with Wills and the Texas Playboys' snappy Western swing licks, is highly evident on songs like "Dusty Skies," "Not That I Care," and "The Warm Red Wine" — all of which sound better with each subsequent spin. And, though the aforementioned reggae collection Countryman might've gotten far too cold of a shoulder from the general public, those attuned to the rock steady leanings of guys like David Lindley and album guest vocalist Toots Hibbert are advised to give the enjoyable disc a more subjective listen.

Outside the realm of music, Willie has also been active as the head man of "Bio Willie" (the official flagship product of the Willie Nelson Biodiesel Company), a patented form of ecologically-friendly fuel derived from vegetable oil and animal fats that replaces or mixes with conventional petro-diesel fuel.

On the company's web site, www.wnbiodiesel.com, Nelson offers testimonials from satisfied converts and mentions that, "when given a chance ... biodiesel practically sells itself." Judging from the enthusiastic responses gathered from long-haul truckers and commuters who've filled up with Bio-Willie at the I-35 Texas location of Carl's Corner Truck Stop, one can justly assume that Willie's selling no wolf tickets when it comes to his homespun method of gas-it-up-and-go.

On April 29, Nelson and Texas Roadhouse release the Nacogdoches Sessions, a rare and previously unreleased acoustic session of traditional standards recorded in 1997 at Encore Studios in Nacogdoches, Texas. It features the late legendary players Paul Buskirk (mandolin) and Paul Schmitt (guitar).

Nelson recently extended his 2006 tour schedule, which kicked off in late January, to include an "evening with" concert in Charleston at the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium on Thurs. April 6. Tickets are still available for Nelson's Charleston show at www.ticketmaster.com.

Willie Nelson: The Red-headed Stranger shows no signs of slowin' down


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