Willie Nelson

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

When Austin musician Elizabeth McQueen was growing up in Columbia, Maryland, she thought she would become a professor. She didn’t expect to make a living as a musician and certainly never thought she would one day perform a live duet with Willie Nelson.

“I never thought I would make a living as a performer because I didn’t know anyone who did,” McQueen said. “It didn’t even seem like that was something you could do.”

McQueen developed a love for performing when she was young but didn’t decide to pursue it as a career until after she graduated from college. She wanted to escape the East Coast’s fast-paced lifestyle, so she headed to Austin in 2000.

“I came down here thinking, ‘I want to be a musician,’” McQueen said. “That was my plan.”

McQueen spent eight years as the front woman for the Grammy-nominated band Asleep at the Wheel. During this time, she performed with Willie Nelson, released three solo albums and had two children.

Her latest project is recording an album as EMQ, a band she formed with old friends — guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo and multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Greene. On Thursday, EMQ and local artist Jerome Morrison will launch an exhibit at the Museum of Human Achievement called “Infinity + Infinity.”

Infinity + Infinity is an interactive art project in which audience members’ body movements control holographic images projected onto structures Morrison built. EMQ will play live music while spectators walk through the projections.

McQueen said the project is conceptually complex because it combines electronic music, jazz and 1920s songbook-style writing with holographic art.

“I don’t know exactly what [the music] is, and I don’t know how to describe it — but I like it,” McQueen said. “And I like playing it.”

McQueen said she has always been a fan of experimenting with her approach to music. On her previous albums, she explored a variety of genres including Americana and pub-rock. She asked Gurgiolo and Greene to form EMQ with her so that they could experiment musically. 

“I just keep expanding and changing,” McQueen said. “I guess I’m just not the kind of person who is going to make the same record over and over again.”

In addition to writing and recording her own music, McQueen is a DJ once a week for KUT. In her podcast, “This Song,” she asks artists about songs that have had an impact on them.

“It’s not your favorite song — it’s the song that made you realize you could become a musician, or play an instrument, or what influenced your latest project,” McQueen said. “It’s about who inspired us and whose shoulders we are standing on.”

McQueen said the most important song to her is “Empty Cans” by The Streets. She said the song taught her it is possible to be emotionally honest and open with her music.

“When you get really emotionally honest with your music, you are opening up the door for people to really feel something,” McQueen said. “I don’t think I’d ever thought to really attempt to try something that emotionally honest until I heard that song.”

She said her goals for her music career are always changing, but, for now, she wants to focus on emotional honesty.

“My ultimate goal as a musician is to make music that makes people feel something  more than just having a good time, but makes them really feel,” McQueen said. “But that’ll probably change next week.”

Photo Credit: Hanna Bernbaum | Daily Texan Staff

There’s no need to constantly open up Google and  search “SXSW 2015 set list.” With Twitter readily available on your smartphone, you have no need to feel dazed and confused about who’s performing when you arrive at the music festival scene. Here are 10 must-follow Twitter accounts for any South By Southwest attendee. 

The Daily Texan | @thedailytexan

If you’re not already following The Daily Texan on Twitter, shame on you. If you still haven’t followed our account after reading this, shame on me.

With more than 37,000 followers, @thedailytexan is home base for campus news and entertainment. Campus dies down during spring break, but this account never sleeps. Expect constant SXSW updates and fresh news content streaming down your newsfeed all week. 

SXSW | @sxsw

The most obvious choice is the official Twitter of SXSW. Follow @sxsw for news about conferences and behind the scenes action. If you don’t feel like following the Twitter account, #SXSW will give you all the most recent details about parties and juicy rumors. 

IFC at SXSW | @IFCsxsw

The IFC Fairgrounds is not just the prime locale for entertainment, it also has a Twitter page with more than 7,000 followers. The reason behind its Twitter fan base? Exclusive details on interviews, music showcases and giveaways.

unofficialsxsw | @unofficialsxsw

Don’t have a music wristband or an all-access platinum badge? Unofficialsxsw is the source for free events and late-night secret shows. If you’re hyper-conscious of your follower-following ratio, you can get all of unnoficialsxsw’s updates by searching #SXSW.

Willie Nelson | @willienelson

It’s apparent that the iconic country-folk singer isn’t handling his own account, but the tweets are still hilarious. Not a #ManCrushMonday goes by without a photo post of a squinty-eyed, jovial-looking Nelson. Nelson, Austin’s leading legalization advocate, will host his fourth annual Heartbreaker Banquet. Look forward to the occasional allusion to drugs and the promotion of Willie merch.

Cameron @ SW | @CameronAtSX

Looking for a more personal touch? Cameron, a Dallas resident bitten by the SXSW bug, is a great resource for all the parties hidden beneath the smoky atmosphere. His updates include great “how-to” tips, daily reminders and local businesses’ offers.

Jacob Stetson | @JacobStetson

Who better to learn all things SXSW than from an Austinite? Stetson is a SXSW savant/freak. He will fill your Twitter timeline with the “who’s who” of SXSW and help you survive the hordes of music lovers.

food trailers austin | @FoodTrailersATX

Forgot your trail mix at home? Food trailers Austin will guide you through Austin’s food-truck scene and help you find the nearest barbecue-sauce smothered brisket and seasoned corn on the cob. Cheap food, short lines and big serving sizes — three things we can all agree are classic SXSW comforts. 

BrooklynVegan @ SXSW | @bvSXSW

Brooklyn Vegan has the SXSW hook-up, including prizes, hotel rooms and parties. Seriously. The account’s team concentrates on all the perks this musical holiday has to offer.

Do512 | @Do512

Do512 is the powerhouse of SXSW knowledge. Updating about every 20 minutes, the account always delivers. Heard that Hozier is making a surprise appearance? This Twitter distinguishes SXSW truths from rumors. Let Do512 lead you in the right direction so that you can stay involved. 

Willie Nelson performs at The Backyard in Bee Cave, Texas in April 2014. 

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

Country Music Hall of Famer Willie Nelson donated his collection of more than 600 photographs, letters and other personal items to the University’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in May. 

The collection spans over 40 years of Nelson’s career and will be displayed as biannual installations reflecting important themes and chapters of his life, according to Erin Purdy, associate director for publications and curation. Purdy said the items reveal the intimate relationships Nelson developed with musicians, politicians and his fans. The collection includes correspondence with Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash as well as political figures such as former President Bill Clinton and former Gov. Ann Richards. It also includes one military medal — a Purple Heart, given to Nelson by one of his fans.

“The exhibit’s showing not just what he has accomplished, but how much people love him and how much they esteem his work and what he has done to make an impact in their lives,” Purdy said.

A native Texan, Nelson moved to Austin in 1972 and performed at the first Austin City Limits Live show. Purdy said Nelson’s impact on the musical community in Austin made the Briscoe Center, a U.S. and Texas cultural preservation center, a natural resting place for his collection.

According to assistant professor of musicology Charles Carson, Nelson represented the counterculture spirit of Austin in the 1970s that is still seen today.

“Austin in the 1970s attracted people who were marginalized and didn’t feel like they could fit in anywhere else. The two main groups were cowboys and hippies,” Carson said. “Because musicians like Willie were bringing together folk rock and country, both sides of that coin latched onto his music as the voice of that generation.”

Since the announcement of Willie Nelson’s donation, Purdy said the Briscoe Center has received positive responses from the Austin community. She attributed this popularity to Nelson's involvement in the community. 

“He’s an activist on behalf of any number of causes and generous with his time,” Purdy said. “He has touched so many lives, and what has been striking to me is how broad the responses have been from all walks of life.”

Anthropology senior Alan Garcia said he grew up in Austin listening to Nelson after his parents introduced him to his music. He said he appreciates Nelson’s musical creativity and his support for farmers’ rights and social issues.

“Willie’s rebellious, and he takes a stance,” Garcia said. “A lot of people today are afraid of doing that in country.” 

Garcia said he is interested in seeing photographs and letters from Nelson’s collection that illustrate Austin’s music scene in the 1970s.  

“Archives like this can bring you back to the past, a creative scene, that can still be revived,” Garcia said.

Darrell K Royal, who won three national championships as head football coach of the Texas Longhorns, is auctioning off memorabilia to raise money for the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. Royal, 88, is battling the disease (March, 2012, file photo).

Day by day, Alzheimer’s disease is robbing Edith Royal of her beloved husband Darrell.

“He’s in his childhood now,” she said in an interview this week at the assisted living facility where they live. “Sometimes, you wonder if anybody is ever going to make a breakthrough fighting this disease.”

She is doing what she can to help, while also caring for the former Texas coach who won two national championships with the Longhorns in 1963 and 1969, a share of a third in 1970, and is still regarded as one of the giants in the game. The Royals are hoping Texas fans — and some from Oklahoma as well — will pitch in, too.

Edith Royal is putting some of the family’s personal memorabilia up for auction on Nov. 11 in Austin. Some of the proceeds will go to the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease launched earlier this year.

Although Royal gave away many of his awards and mementos over the years and the trophies he won are kept at the school, the couple still has too much to keep — and much to share.

The items at auction trace his life from the scrappy kid growing up in the poverty of the Dust Bowl-era in Hollis, Okla. to his rise to one of the great coaches in college history. Royal coached Texas from 1957-1976, won 11 Southwest Conference titles and introduced an innovation known as the wishbone offense to major college football in 1968.

Notable items include a diamond pendant commemorating the 1963 national championship, and a diamond ring from the Longhorns’ 2006 BCS championship game victory over Southern California. There are footballs, belt buckles, tie pins, watches, cufflinks, vintage Texas logo drinking glasses, game programs from Royal’s first two seasons with the Longhorns (1957-1958) and dozens of autographed books, photographs and sideline passes.

Some items date to Darrell’s playing days at Oklahoma, where he was a standout defensive back and quarterback for the Sooners from 1946-1949. Edith Royal says an Oklahoma regent has inquired about bidding on the game programs from Darrell’s first and last games for the Sooners.

“I’m hoping that Darrell’s fans will be the ones that purchase the UT things and they will treasure them like we have. I love the memories - it was fun to rediscover them,” she said.

Other items provide an intimate peek into the Royal home and their friendships with country music stars to astronauts. Royal is longtime friends with Willie Nelson and the auction includes several backstage passes to Nelson concerts and autographed photos.

The auction will be handled by Austin Auction Gallery the day after Texas plays at home against Iowa State. Edith Royal acknowledged the sale will cause some to ask if she just needs money.

“I know they’ll ask that and I don’t care if they do,” she said. “I’m OK. But this was about downsizing and not having to leave my grandchildren to go through all of this stuff someday.”

She lights up when talking about the items in the collection that aren’t about football, especially those that connect Royal and his love of country music. He and Nelson were regular golf partners and Nelson recently stopped by the living center to see his old friend. He played his guitar in the lobby for more than an hour.

“When he left Darrell that day, I’m told he had tears in his eyes,” she said.

She recently discovered an audio recording of Nelson and Merle Haggard singing and talking at one of Royal’s legendary “pickin’ parties” at the Royal’s house. The occasion was to celebrate the 1972 Apollo 16 moon landing by astronaut Charles Duke, a family friend. The recording includes more than 45 minutes of chatter and songs.

“There’s a lot of discussion. What the earth looked like from space, how’d you eat in space, how’d you go to the bathroom?” Edith Royal said. “Charlie says, ‘There’s three pages in the manual written about that. You can read it. I’m not talking about it.’ It’s funny.”

Duke remembers the party.

“It was a fun time and that was a great evening,” Duke said this week. “After my flight, we used to see (Royal) quite often. I sure enjoyed his company and his love of country music and golf.”

The Royals also had given Duke a Texas flag to take to the moon. They had previously loaned the flag to the LBJ Presidential Library and it will be part of the auction. Duke had tried to do a “Hook’em Horns” hand signal for a photograph on the moon but couldn’t make it work in his space suit.

The 88-year-old Darrell recently fell and cracked a vertebra, and he will likely start using a wheelchair full time.

“He’s in the falling stage now,” said Edith Royal, who is 87. “He can’t stand alone.”

Watching the disease’s progress has taken a physical and emotional toll on her. She is often reminded to take care of herself while taking care of her husband. The assisted living center regularly warns residents that the stress of the care giving can kill the caretaker.

“I’ve seen that happen” among her neighbors, she said. “Until you suffer with it in your own family ... You just live in a state of grief.”

Laughter helps. Royal still manages to pull out the one-liners that made him a favorite with fans and reporters.

“The other day, he said, ‘Edith, I have to go to Hollis. Uncle Otis died.’ I said, “No, Darrell, Uncle Otis didn’t die.’ He said, ‘Well, Uncle Otis will be glad to hear that.’ You have to see the humor it in it sometimes,” Edith Royal said.

Sometimes Royal asks to speak to their daughter Marian and son David. Marian died in 1973 after her car was hit by a university bus. David was killed in in a motorcycle accident in 1982. The Royals have another son, Mack.

Edith Royal tries to keep to a frantic pace that keeps her from slowing down. She recently collaborated on a book, “DKR, The Royal Scrapbook”, and about a month ago had an operation to remove a lump from one of her breasts. Doctors told her the operation was a success and she won’t need chemotherapy or radiation.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life,” she said with a sigh. “Maybe when this is all over I can lie down and rest for a while.”

That’s when she points to the wall and a framed wooden engraving of a plow and wagon on a farm.

She was just a country girl grinding out a living with her family’s cotton when she met Royal in high school. Both worked hard to build a better life, crisscrossing the country with head coaching stops in Mississippi, Canada and Washington state before they landed in Austin and never left.

“I come from that, pulling that wagon,” she said of her roots. “I hope it made my heart strong.”

Willie Nelson signs his album, Before His Time, for a fan at his statue unveiling Friday afternoon on Willie Nelson Boulevard.

Photo Credit: Skylar Isdale | Daily Texan Staff

Willie Nelson and supporting fans sang together at the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the Austin resident and country music legend on April 20, a counterculture holiday nationally associated with marijuana use.

The monument was unveiled around 4:20 p.m., with the number 420 holding particular significance within cannabis culture. Nelson is an activist for the legalization of marijuana and sits as a co-chair on the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The bronze statue depicts Nelson sitting relaxedly with guitar in hand.

Erection of the statue was funded by Capital Area Statues, Inc., a private organization that works to celebrate the history and culture of Texas through public sculptures. It was placed in downtown Austin at the corner of Lavaca Street and Wille Nelson Boulevard, adjacent to the Moody Theater, the current home of the PBS music program Austin City Limits. Nelson received one of his first big breaks when he performed during the recording of the pilot episode of Austin City Limits in 1974.

According to Lawrence Wright, president of Capital Area Statues, Inc., the date of the unveiling was a total coincidence as his group had no idea of the political connotation associated with April 20.

“Once we realized what we were stating we just decided to roll with it,” he said, referring to the addition of the planned 4:20 p.m. unveiling of the statue. “It’s a part of keeping Austin weird.”

The event came one day after the release of Nelson’s new single “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” a collaboration between Nelson and music artists Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson.

Among people celebrating the unveiling were Kristofferson and city of Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell, both of whom spoke about Nelson’s major impact on the country music world and the city of Austin through his success.

“He is the man who really more than, I think, any other person makes Austin the live music capital of the world,” Leffingwell said.

Arising from humble beginnings, Nelson, 78, has gone on to become the recipient of 10 Grammy Awards, nine CMA awards and dozens of other honors for his albums, of which he has sold about 40 million copies.

Acknowledging his fame at the unveiling, Nelson joked to a fan who suggested he run for president.

“I would run, but I might win,” he said.

Nelson’s personal style is what inspired the private group to originally have the statue created, Wright said.

“It’s about this sense of engagement that you feel,” he said. “Willie is a superstar, but unlike most people in that category, he is down to earth. He really relates to people, and we love that quality of his.”

Printed on Monday, April 23, 2012 as: Statue celbrating music icon Willie Nelson unveiled

Editor’s note: From developments in the Occupy movement to Willie Nelson’s endorsement of Mayor Lee Leffingwell, the following quotes are among the best from the last few days.

“While you might say, ‘Hoo, man, that’s a lot of money,’ that was something actually earned by Ed over an 11-year period with an 11-year retention hook to it.”
— John Bethancourt, chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation, remarking on criticism regarding the compensation of A&M’s president, Eddie Davis, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Davis received $786,983 for the year ending June 30, 2010.

“John is a very talented faculty member. He’s one of the most prominent scholars we have in the University.”
— Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, on the compensation of John Daly, UT communication studies and business professor. Daly received more than $100,000 in supplements to his salary in 2010 from the McCombs School of Business Foundation, according to the Statesman.

“We think the way that we have worked with the Occupiers has been a model ... What we have noticed throughout this movement is that the movement changed. We continue to respect free speech.”
— Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald, after protesters at Occupy Austin were evicted by police Friday, according to the Statesman.

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives ... We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we ... determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.”
— The Susan G. Komen Foundation in a press release Friday. The foundation came under fire last week for its decision to withdraw financial support for breast exams at Planned Parenthood.

“There are a lot of people calling for a special session, but we don’t see the need for one.”
— Bill Peacock, executive at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, criticizing the call for a special session at the state Legislature to reform school finance, according to Texas Public Radio.

“I am gratified to learn that the U.S. attorney’s office is closing its investigation. It is the right decision, and I commend them for reaching it.”
— Austinite and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, in response to the closing of a federal investigation of Armstrong regarding allegations of steroid use, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“I love Austin, and I think Mayor Leffingwell has done a real good job of helping keep it a special place.”
— Musician Willie Nelson endorsing Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell in his reelection bid, according to Leffingwell’s campaign website.

In this Sept. 7, 2011 file photo, rapper Snoop Dogg poses at the premiere of the film “Laugh at My Pain” in Los Angeles. The rapper is facing a minor drug charge in Texas after border agents say they found several joints on his tour bus over the weekend. Hudspeth County sheriff’s office said in a statement that Snoop Dogg, whose name is Calvin Broadus, was arrested Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at the Sierra Blanca highway checkpoint and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor typica

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas — Nestled among the few remaining businesses that dot a rundown highway in this dusty West Texas town stands what’s become a surprise destination for marijuana-toting celebrities: the Hudspeth County Jail.

Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and actor Armie Hammer have been among the thousands of people busted for possession at a Border Patrol checkpoint outside town in recent years, bringing a bit of notoriety to one of Texas’ most sparsely populated counties.

“Once I was in Arizona, and when I said where I was from, they said, ‘That’s where Willie Nelson was busted,’” said Louise Barantley, manager at the Coyote Sunset souvenir shop in Sierra Blanca.

Hudspeth County cameos aren’t only for outlaws: action movie star Steven Seagal, who’s already deputized in Louisiana and Arizona for his reality show “Steven Seagal Lawman” on A&E, has signed on to become a county officer.

Locals already have found ways to rub shoulders with their celebrity guests.

Deputies posed for pictures with Snoop Dogg after authorities said they found several joints on his bus earlier this month. When Nelson was busted here in 2010, the county’s lead prosecutor suggested the singer settle his marijuana charges by performing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” for the court.

The once-thriving town of Sierra Blanca began to shrink to its current 1,000-person population after the construction of nearby Interstate 10 — a main artery linking cities from California to Florida — offered an easy way to bypass the community.

Now the highway is sending thousands of drug bust cases Sierra Blanca’s way, courtesy of a Border Patrol checkpoint just outside of town where drug-sniffing dogs inspect more than 17,000 trucks, travelers — and tour buses — daily for contraband.

Border Patrol agents say people busted with small amounts of pot often say they have medical marijuana licenses from California, Arizona or New Mexico — three states along I-10 that, unlike Texas, allow for medicinal pot prescriptions — and claim to believe the licenses were valid nationwide.

Nelson’s publicists declined to co-County authorities have not yet decided whether to prosecute or issue a citation for Hammer, who starred in the 2010 film “The Social Network.”

Joe Satriani performs at a benefit concert in Austin on Monday night. Fire Rel

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

Texas musical legends Willie Nelson and George Strait donated their time and talent to aid Bastrop residents in rebuilding their community during a benefit concert held at the Frank Erwin Center Monday night.

Fire Relief: The Concert for Central Texas, was proposed by American guitarist Eric Johnson as a way to raise money for the community of Bastrop in light of September’s wildfires.

UT joined with the Frank Erwin Center, The Medina Group, the Austin Community Foundation and various Texas musicians in organizing the event, hosted by screenwriter and actor Turk Pipkin and actor Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights.

“We’ll get through this,” Johnson said. “The sun will shine and everything will be alright.”

According to western musician Ray Benson, Johnson started the idea of getting together the benefit concert in hopes of rebuilding not only the homes of the Bastrop victims, but also their spirits.

“Bastrop county will survive, it will come back from this,” Bastrop fire chief Henry Perry said.

Tickets, T-shirts and all proceeds gained from the concert went towards the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund. About 24,000 people attended the concert and raised about $500,000 for the victims.

The concert began with a performance by Chris Cross and proceeded with performances by Johnson, Benson, Terri Hendrix, Joe Satriani, the Texas Tornados, the Randy Rogers Band, Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Willie Nelson, the Avett Brothers and the Dixie Chicks. George Strait ended the night with a few popular songs and thanked the audience for their support.

“People came from all over the country and all on their own time just to be here for this benefit concert,” Pipkin said.

Pipkin and Chandler encouraged the audience to donate what they could to the relief fund between each act, and short films and documentaries were shown of the victims and their losses. After each film, an advertisement encouraging a minimum donation of $10 to the relief fund was displayed on the screens.

Pipkin said the benefit concert could not have been so successful without the voluntary efforts of the musicians and sponsors.

“The goal was to help people effected by the fire regain their livelihood,” Pipkin said. “This fire is not going to get us down.” 

Eco-friendly expansion brings Austin City Limits to Willie Nelson Boulevard

Willie Nelson played his second show at the new Austin City Limits Moody Theater on Monday night.

The state-of-the-art theater, located on Willie Nelson Boulevard, will be the new home to Austin City Limits, the longest-running music series in American television.

The venue itself will host concerts year round in addition to the concerts hosted by the television program. The switch to Moody Theater from Studio 6A at the University of Texas has increased available seating to a capacity of more than 2,700.

In addition to more available space, the theater was built with green building standards and is significantly more sustainable than its previous location on campus.

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas — A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman says singer Willie Nelson was charged with marijuana possession after 6 ounces was found on his tour bus. Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks says the bus pulled into the Sierra Blanca checkpoint Friday. An officer smelled pot when a door was opened and a search turned up marijuana. Nelson was among three arrested. Sheriff Arvin West he told the El Paso Times that Nelson claimed the marijuana was his. The singer was held briefly a $2,500 bond before being released.