Willie Nelson: New Album, Big Changes for Country Legend

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Barbara Schultz


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Willie Nelson 80 album cover

Nelson celebrates his 80th birthday this coming April, and a couple of developments on the business side will alter the outlook for his future work and Chadie’s. For one, Nelson has signed a label deal with Legacy Recordings, which will release his new albums and work with him on enhanced reissues with handpicked bonus tracks.

The other big development: Pedernales—the studio that Nelson has operated for decades with his nephew Freddy Fletcher and Freddy’s wife, Lisa—has closed for commercial use and is now a private facility; the gear has been moved to its sister studio, Arlyn, in the heart of Austin.

“Pedernales was Willie’s building with our equipment,” explains Lisa Fletcher. “For years, we’ve run both studios: Pedernales and Arlyn, the studio my husband built in 1984. For 10 years, we leased Arlyn to a recording school, MediaTech. But we had been talking about taking Arlyn back, because not only does Arlyn have these custom, Steve Durr-designed, great-sounding rooms, but downtown Austin is so vibrant. Also, Freddy is a partner in Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater and has a production company within ACL; they stream and film a series of shows and they can do post-production and editing here. It just seemed like the right time to bring everything under one roof.”

The Fletchers have spent the past several months refurbishing Arlyn. The SSL 4048 G+ from Pedernales now lives in a brand-new Durr-designed Studio B. And the ’70s Neve will arrive soon, as part of a unique hybrid console; it’s being connected to Arlyn’s existing API by Fred Hill, who also designed a custom center section. At press time, the one-of-a-kind, 56-channel board was set to arrive before the end of February, just in time for a grand re-opening celebration during SXSW.

“We told Willie that if he wants to re-open Pedernales commercially, we’ll help him with that, but we just put fresh paint on our parking spaces, and Willie has a space with his name on it,” Lisa Fletcher says. “Willie has always felt at home here. He’s owned the Austin Opera House venue in the same building, and he’s the person who initially convinced Freddy to build Arlyn.”

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