The Times West Virginian


March 25, 2009

‘Shotgun Willie’ fits like a glove

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.

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