FAIRMONT — Tribute acts are a dime a dozen.
Half the time, they don’t even look like the artists they’re paying tribute to.
But glance at the grey-muzzled man with those familiar long salt-and-pepper, auburn-tinged braids.
Add that distinctive red bandana, patriotic red-white-and-blue guitar strap and beat-up blue jeans, it’s got to be Willie Nelson.
Take a slightly longer look.
It’s Casey Ferguson.
Awhile back, people kept telling the Cassville native he sounded and looked just like the old Outlaw ... Shotgun Willie himself.
So he capitalized on that and for the past 20 years, he’s traveled all up and down the East Coast as a professional Willie Nelson impersonator.
Now he’s come back home from that life on the road and in Nashville to open Shotgun Willie’s Nashville Jamboree, a new venue that offers pop, classic rock, and old and new country favorites.
Opening on March 7, each Saturday the place, located at the former Vintage Hall on Route 50 East of Grafton, features house band Mama’s Pride, with special guests, many of them friends of Ferguson’s.
Doors open at 5 p.m., followed by open mic, 6-7; house band, 7-8; and special guest, 8-9:30.
This weekend it’s the Willie Nelson Tribute Show, featuring none other than Ferguson and his Shotgun Willie Band.
“I’ve been on the road for several years. I took over the former Vintage Hall on Route 50 East near Grafton and turned it into a theatre.
“The patriarch of Mama’s Pride, he and I and his kids are more like family than friends,” he said. “He talked me in to getting off the road and bringing acts from Nashville here. I’d been wanting to do that. But the stars weren’t lined up until recently.
“Other great acts are coming. We had Ronnie Pitman from Nashville here last weekend.”
Carolina Eagles with Cathy Knight will be the guests on April 4, he said.
“Every weekend we’ll do something different. These people I’ve known through the years. They’re returning a favor. They’ve been in shows before. They know what I’m doing here. We have a lot of good talent lined up.”
As Willie Nelson, Ferguson has played the whole circuit ... casinos, fairs, festivals (including Grafton’s Fireman Festival and Clarksburg's Italian Heritage Festival), country shows (including Sagebrush Round-Up), and corporate events and conventions.
“I was pushed into being Willie Nelson about 21 years ago,” he said with a laugh. “Everybody kept saying I looked and sounded a lot like Willie.”
“Do something with it,” they told him.
“Oh, one of these days,” he replied.
“Well, ‘one of these days’ came and I gave it a shot. I’ve been on stage ever since. It fits like a glove.
“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed. He’s such a popular person. It was easy to fall into being an impersonator. Everybody I’ve talked to likes Willie.”
How can you not like “Mr. Farm Aid” himself, the man who composed “Crazy,” “Always on My Mind,” “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again”?
He said he’s been endorsed by the Willie Nelson Family Museum in Nashville.
But even Ferguson couldn’t keep up with the hard-working, 75-year-old music legend.
“I wanted to come back home and relax, and spend time with my family and open up a venue here,” he said.
So he did.
For 15 year of those traveling years, he called Nashville home. For two years, he was manager of the “Willie Nelson General Store” and “Outlaw Museum” in Nashville.
“I’ve traveled all up and down the eastern half of the united Sates, primarily from Ohio and Pennsylvania south to Georgia and Floria.”
He’s also played Vegas, the West Coast and New England.
“I made a living at it. Many musicians in Nashville have to have second jobs. There’s so much competition among singers, songwriters and entertainers. Because I had a specialty act, more doors opened to me than to many of my friends.
“I felt that when I had the opportunity, I would bring them out and let them make a paycheck. Music is what they love to do. It’s part of their livelihood.
“It’s difficult to make a living. I was able to do that without having a second job.”
Back to those other tribute artists. Sometimes they have to put on wigs or wear outlandish costumes to let you know who they want you to think they are.
But not Casey Ferguson.
Just to show you how dedicated he is to being the ultimate Willie Nelson experience, you should know something.
That hair ... those braids that cascade all the way down his back and past his belt?
It’s all real.
For more information about Shotgun Willie’s Nashville Jamboree, call Ferguson at 304-276-0277.
E-mail Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.
FAIRMONT — Tribute acts are a dime a dozen.
Tea with a Twist and More Saturday
On Saturday, the GFWC Woman’s Club of Fairmont will be hosting a Tea with a Twist and More during which guests will have an opportunity to tour the Thomas and Annie Fleming Mansion as well as view various exhibits and pieces of artwork.
Christmas in Our Town holiday tradition
On Saturday, Barrackville residents will celebrate the 11th annual Christmas in Our Town event.
DeEtta Hayes, chairman of the Christmas in Our Town committee, said that several people within the community have worked hard to organize the event, which has become a tradition for many.
Oldies Dance, ‘Taste’ to benefit United Way
Hit the dance floor for an evening of music and giving at the United Way of Marion County fifth annual Oldies Dance and Taste of Marion County on Friday, Dec. 6, at Fairmont Elks Lodge No. 294.
Holiday Historic Homes Tour on Nov. 30 features nine sites
Structures that tell the story of Fairmont’s rich history will be on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 during the annual Holiday Historic Homes Tour.
This is the 20th year for the tour, which was named the 2012 Event of the Year by the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Marion County.
‘Rocket Boys the Musical’ set at FSU
The Fairmont State University School of Fine Arts is bringing the story of West Virginia native Homer Hickam to life through its musical performance of “Rocket Boys.”
Director Troy Snyder said this is the first time “Rocket Boys the Musical” will be performed by a college or university.
‘Freedom Tower’ premiere tonight
The curtains will open at 8 p.m. today at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown for the world premiere of Sam Graber’s “Freedom Tower,” a play that focuses on the effects that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks continue to have on our country more than 12 years later.
Debut concert Sunday at folklife center
The Monongahela Chamber Winds ensemble will have its debut concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the campus of Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College.
Harvest festival, antique fair this weekend at Pricketts Fort
It’s the time of year for the Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation to host the annual harvest festival and antique fair.
‘Simpsons’ creator finds funny in cancer fight
Since word got out about Sam Simon’s cancer, this co-creator of “The Simpsons” and fervent philanthropist has heard from many people online asking to help rid him of his sizable wealth.
DreamMore Resort coming to Dollywood
To see the future of Dollywood, you need to borrow the vision of its chief imaginer, Dolly Parton.
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