A friend of mine just sent this photo over of Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck) and Willie Nelson. It's posted on Phosphorescent's Myspace page with the caption: "Willie's Bus‚ New Jersey - April 2009"
I had a brief chat with Matthew about his stellar new album of Willie Nelson covers‚ To Willie‚ back in February. At that time‚ he had never met Willie -- here's the end of our talk:
So‚ one last thing: have you met Willie yet?
No‚ I have not.
You think you will now? [laughs]
Well‚ I sent him the record. I haven't heard anything from that camp‚ but I'd be super stoked if he heard it.
I think he likes to invite people on to his bus. [laughter]
I would gladly accept that invitation.
Well‚ it looks like he did. Glad it finally happened!
Update 4/27 - the following press release just came from Dead Oceans (Phosphorescent's label):
Phosphorescent invited personally by Willie Nelson to perform on his SIRIUS XM Radio channel "Willie's Place" as part of Willie Nelson's 76th birthday celebration.
Earlier this year Phosphorescent released his new album To Willie, a tribute to the music of Willie Nelson. Styled after Willie's own tribute to Lefty Frizzell, the 1975 album, To Lefty, From Willie, has received glowing praise from sources as far and wide as Country Weekly and Vanity Fair to Mojo and The Fader. Not just a tribute album, Phosphorescent lovingly renders 11 tracks pulled deep from Mr. Nelson's catalog of song. All along Matthew Houck said that his tribute wasn't just a good idea he had, but rather something he'd always known he needed to do. When preparing for the album's release, Matthew shared his thoughts with me about his first memory of Willie Nelson's music:
"I can remember being in the back seat of my parents' car in Alabama and hearing "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" sung by Willie Nelson. I must have been three or four years old. That huge-sounding, sad, sad song did something to me. It took something out of me. Or put something into me I don't know which. There was a gravel driveway and a gate. My father was out of the car, opening the gate and then we were driving over the gravel. Every song I've ever sung has something to do with this moment."
And now a new voice has joined in the choir of high praise for the album - the voice belonging to Willie Nelson himself! Last week Dead Oceans received an invite from Willie Nelson's Sirius XM Radio Channel, Willie's Place (located on the dial on Sirius 64, and XM 13,) for Phosphorescent to perform as part of the channel's festivities celebrating the 76th birthday of the Red Headed Stranger.
Also last week, Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck and his entire band of merry musicians were personally invited by Willie to come to New Brunswick, NJ to attend a Nelson performance. Upon arrival, they were invited onto his tour bus where Mr. Nelson was extremely generous and sweet, and shared some very kind words about To Willie. Read about his experience here.