Willie Nelson is back with his 151st(!) album, Bluegrass. This marks the first time the iconic musician has dedicated an entire album to the genre, which is deeply rooted in Appalachian old-time music.
On Bluegrass, Nelson breathes new life into 12 classic compositions, including favorites like "On The Road Again," "Yesterday's Wine," "Still Is Still Moving To Me," and "Good Hearted Woman." Backing Nelson are a group of exceptional musicians, including Barry Bales (upright bass), Ron Block (banjo), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), and others. The album's cover art is created by Willie's son, Micah.
The selection process for the album was personal for Nelson. He handpicked these tracks, all written by himself except "Good Hearted Woman," co-written with Waylon Jennings. His longtime collaborator and producer Buddy Cannon also played a crucial role in curating this homage to Appalachian string band music.
Nelson's musical journey began with Appalachian roots, profoundly influenced by the old-time string band music of Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass reconnects him with his love for this musical tradition, offering a fresh perspective on his own catalog, and featuring tight ensemble interplay, typical of traditional bluegrass interpretations.
Meanwhile, this year is turning out to be a significant one for Willie, as he celebrated his 90th birthday on April 29. A five-part documentary series, Willie Nelson & Family, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is set to air later in the year. Additionally, a star-studded concert film, Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90 hit select screens earlier this year. The two concerts from which the film was drawn were held at the Hollywood Bowl, and featured Nelson playing with cross-generational admirers like Bob Weir, Snoop Dogg, Tom Jones, Billy Strings, Chris Stapleton, Dwight Yoakam, Ziggy Marley, Emmylou Harris, Margo Price, and Lyle Lovett, to name but a handful.
This year Nelson also secured two Grammy wins for Best Country Solo Performance and his first Best Country Album award. With 56 Grammy nominations and 12 Grammy Awards throughout his career, these wins continue to add to his impressive trophy case. In addition, Willie Nelson is among the 2023 inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with the induction ceremony scheduled for November 3rd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He is also hitting the road for the largest-ever Outlaw Festival tour, featuring an incredible lineup of stars for a series of unforgettable shows this summer and fall. Finally, in October, Nelson will release his new book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs. The book promises to provide insights into the stories behind the lyrics of 160 of his favorite songs, accompanied by never-before-seen photos and ephemera.