THREE OAKS – Paula Nelson has lived a life under the influence.
The daughter of country icon Willie Nelson, Paula’s own musical identity was formed by listening to the tunes of not only her famous father, but the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, Leon Russell, Jesse Colter and Billy Joe Shaver.
In October, Paula Nelson plans to release of “Under The Influence,” her long-awaited project dedicated to both her influences and musical pedigree. Along with their own collection of jazzy rockers, Nelson and her band of guitarist Landis Armstrong, drummer Kevin Lance and bass player Lindsay Greene will offer a hint at what is to come, with covers of songs by Waylon Jennings, Mickey Newbury and her father, when they return Friday night for a show at The Acorn Theater.
Q When you were here two years ago, we talked about how insecure you were early in your career when people asked you to sing your father’s music. These days you seem equally adept at singing your own songs as well as covering other material, especially your dad’s work. So what’s changed?
A My skin is definitely tougher than it used to be, but I’m also playing different places more. Rather than just the rowdy honky tonks, they’re places where people are really listening to my lyrics and my songs. It becomes more personal than just being a bar band. We can certainly rock out, but it is really nice to connect with the audience on a personal level like that. We also feel like we’ve paid our dues. I think people have walked away from our shows saying, “She may be so-and-so’s kid, but I get it now. I get who she is now.”
Q You can certainly play old-school country, but your voice has more of a blues-jazz lilt, so how would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you perform?
A It’s hard to put it into a category, really. If people haven’t heard us I usually say it’s kind of a country-Southern rock thing, but I have a wide variety of likes in music. So the show consists of anything from blues to Latin to straight rock, and of course there’s that little bit of old-school country as well. There’s something really for everybody.
Q I know you’re finishing up your new album, called “Under The Influence.” What can you tell me about it?
A I wanted to compile a CD of the songs that influenced me when I was growing up. They may be songs that take you back to certain people and places, but some of them are songs that people may not have heard so it’s nice to be able to bring them back to this generation. They are just awesome songs. We’ve got a couple Waylon Jennings songs, a couple Mickey Newbury songs, one of my pops’ songs of course. There’s also a Dire Straits song. … We’ve been telling people for a year we’d have it soon so we can’t wait to get it out there, but when you have an album called “Under The Influence,” there’s so much great stuff out there that we just keep adding to it.
Q What’s the song from your father’s catalogue that you decided to cover? And what are some of your other favorites?
A It’s called “I Never Cared For You.” It was written in maybe the early ’70s. All of his songs are cool, but this had some extra coolness to it that I knew this band could play really well. This band can play anything really well, but I also knew I’d have a good time singing.
The Waylon songs are “Just to Satisfy You” and “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.” His music has always had that old-school back beat behind it – that outlaw movement that came from him and my father – that just sounded really tough. He was always a cool cat to begin with and his music is just an extension of that coolness.
We also did this interpretation of “I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and we’ve completely changed it. We listened to Mickey Newbury’s original version and it was quite different then what Kenny Rogers did. So I just started singing how I thought it should come out.
Q In October you will be touring again with your dad. You’ve been doing more dates with him and your sister, Amy, lately. What’s that like? It must be kind of fun.
A It is. We all travel so much individually so it’s really nice to be able to travel together and especially to get together on stage and sing. My sister (Amy) is fantastic. She has her own band (Folk Uke), which you may not of heard of. Her lyric content is a little racy for radio. But it is nice to hang out and sing harmony with her and my father as well.
— WHAT: Paula Nelson Band
— WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
— WHERE: The Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive, Three Oaks
— HOW MUCH: $15
— CONTACT: 756-3879 or www.acorntheater.com
— ARTIST INFO: www.paulanelsonband.com
This article originally appeared on The Herald Palladium HERE.