02/25/10 — Legislator pens protest ode about Willie's band's arrest

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Legislator pens protest ode about Willie's band's arrest

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 25, 2010 1:46 PM

Sen. Charlie Albertson

Willie Nelson

Musicians, marijuana, moonshine and revenuers -- sounds like something Willie Nelson might sing about.

"He came from Abbott, Texas all the way to Caroline

"A place called Duplin County where we grow and drink the wine.

"The law converged when they heard, the outlaw was in town

"Operation on the Road would bring the whole thing down."

However, in this case the song is about Nelson, whose band was charged with drug and liquor violations prior to an aborted concert last month at the Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville.

State Sen. Charlie Albertson of Duplin has crafted the incident into a county music

song, "Leave the Man Alone," that he plans to record.

Nelson was a last-minute no-show at the concert, citing health problems. Before his band could go on stage its members were by Alcohol Law Enforcement agents in what was officially termed "Operation On the Road Again."

For Albertson, who is not seeking re-election to the state Senate, the name of the sting, and number of ALE agents involved, 13, implies it was contrived.

Albertson's feelings about the incident, along with phone calls from upset county residents prompted him to write the song. He recorded it last week in a studio in Nashville, Tenn.

A copy of the recording was forwarded Wednesday to Nelson's promotional staff.

Albertson, 78, is a longtime country musician who has performed at the Grand Ole Opry. He doesn't know Nelson personally, but has seen him perform.

Albertson was not at the ill-fated Duplin concert, but found out about it later when he started receiving calls from people angry about the way lawmen treated the entertainer's band.

"I came up with this on my own after the show was over," Albertson said. "I had some people call me who were just disappointed, mad and upset. I found out later that law enforcement had named this Operation On the Road Again. I tried to put in the song that we grow it (grapes) and drink the wine in the county.

"On the other side, people can buy a drink and have a cold one in their hand (in the Events Center). It looks like, by having 13 ALE agents on the site, that they made a special effort, or a special effort was made by somebody, to really get Willie. I sort of put all of that together in my mind."

Albertson said the charges got him to thinking about the county's annual wine festival.

"We had 6,000 people at the wine festival and I was curious to know how many ALE officers attended the wine festival," he said. "I called the ALE office and they told me nobody went. Of course anybody can walk around and taste that wine. I was there. But they told me that nobody had asked them to come. I just found it strange that we had 13 ALE officers there (at the concert)."

Albertson said he had heard ALE had been asked for help by the Kenansville Police Department.

"But still 13, that seems a bit much to me," he said. "And it seems to me like with all of the drinking on the inside and all of the wine we make, it just seemed to me to be a little bit too much to make a special effort, a least that is the way it seems to me, to get this man and to bust this man's bus.

"The people are really upset, disappointed and frustrated with the way that things happened that night. It cost the county revenue and some folks think it gave the county a bad name, too."

Albertson said he was not condoning the use of marijuana.

"But just put it together in your own mind and it makes you wonder," he said. "I don't know, but it looks like it might have been selective."

"I did have a lot of fun (writing the song)," he said. "I guess I sort of said what I feel about it, the way I sort of see it. I don't condone people using weed.

"They were in the bus. They live on the bus. You know if you are a musician and have ever done any playing at all in band that bus is just like a home to you almost."

Albertson said he wrote the song over the course of a couple of days. He said he kept changing it a little bit because he thought he could make it stronger.

"I really got the idea, you know this man is an icon in the music business," he said. "You call a few people's name like Dolly and everybody knows what you mean Dolly Parton. Or if you say Elvis, they know the Presley goes with that. It is the same way with Willie. Everybody knows that if you say Willie they put Nelson behind it.

"Here is that man who has written all of these great songs that we know and love. They knew when they booked him that he had some history of using the weed occasionally. I have never known him to bother anybody. Of course I put in the song he does all of his things for the family farmer. The people who know him in Nashville tell me he quite often performs for charitable events."

Albertson said he already has had requests for recordings of the song and plans to make a CD.

"I have never done anything that has gotten this much attention in my life," he said. "I have performed at the Grand Ole Opry a few times, but I just never had the right song, but who knows this might just be the one. I would love to play with Willie."