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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAIRMONT — Tribute acts are a dime a dozen.
Three acts featured in family-friendly show scheduled March 15-16
Morgantown Dance and Morgantown Ballet Company will present “The Magical Carnival of Dance” at the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown next weekend.
The family-friendly show will feature three acts: “The Carnival of Animals,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Premieres!”
‘It’s fun and it’s cheap’
The Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown will open its 2014 season with the comedy “Love, Sex and the IRS” Friday.
Have a heart and help child advocacy
The Marion County Child Advocacy Center is holding its inaugural Have a Heart Benefit Dance and Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Fairmont State University Ballroom.
‘Honey Dewdrops’ coming to Kingwood
The musical roots duo of Laura Wortman and Kagey Parish will bring their blend of folk, acoustic, old-feel Americana and bluegrass music to the Preston Community Arts Center in Kingwood on Feb. 8, at 8 p.m.
‘Godspell’ brings gospel story to CAC
The West Virginia University Creative Arts Center will bring the musical “Godspell” to Morgantown this weekend for a night of entertainment.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
‘Memphis the Musical’ coming to WVU
“Memphis the Musical” will take over Morgantown with what audiences have described as “exhilarating dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling plot.”
The show is set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center.
Shatner bringing one-man show to WVU
Have you ever wondered what’s in William Shatner’s iconic head? What makes the man best known as Captain James T. Kirk tick?
‘Nashville New Year’s Eve’ planned
Bringing Nashville to Fairmont this New Year’s Eve, with the theme of “Boots and Blue Jeans,” Westchester Village invites residents to come out and enjoy a country take to the inaugural New Year’s Eve celebration.
‘Wizard of Oz’ performance Saturday
The final performance of the West Virginia Public Theatre’s holiday production of the “Wizard of Oz” is set for Saturday at the Metropolitan Theater in Morgantown.
Michael Licata, artistic director of WVPT, said the live performance brings the familiar movie, which first came out 75 years ago, to life.
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.
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- Three acts featured in family-friendly show scheduled March 15-16