Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jan 2010
Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Copyright: 2010 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Anne Blythe


The strong odor of marijuana wafting from the window of a Willie 
Nelson tour bus led to six members of the country singer's entourage 
getting busted in Duplin County for possession of marijuana and 
three-fourths of a quart of moonshine, law enforcement officials said.

But it was a pain in the country music star's hand that forced the 
last-minute cancellation of Thursday night's concert in Kenansville, 
not a pain in the neck from having to deal with the drug and alcohol 
raid an hour before the show.

The grizzled, 76-year-old singer-songwriter, author, poet and 
activist has a reputation as a musical outlaw and longtime marijuana 
smoker. But Nelson was not on the bus where ALE officers found 
marijuana, rolling papers and a Mason jar almost full of 
"non-tax-paid alcohol," or moonshine, according to Ernie Seneca, an 
Alcohol Law Enforcement spokesman. Seneca didn't know whether the 
shine was brewed locally or imported from Texas along with the band.

Bass player Dan Edward "Bee" Spears was on the bus, and the 
60-year-old longtime band member from Franklin, Tenn., was one of 
those cited. The event's planner and one of his assistants also were 
cited for trying to interfere with the ALE investigation.

Nelson, a native of Abbott, Texas, has a long and colorful maverick 
history, morphing from a clean-cut Nashville songwriter into an 
ever-touring troubadour. In his wake, he often leaves more than 
biodiesel fumes: In 2006, he and four others got misdemeanor 
citations for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana after a 
traffic stop on a Louisiana highway. But he's been getting into 
scrapes for years, and his scrapes end up in his lyrics. In his 1971 
song "Me and Paul," he sang: Almost busted in Laredo, But for reasons 
that I'd rather not disclose, But if you're stayin' in a motel there 
and leave, Just don't leave nothin' in your clothes.

In Duplin County, about 80 miles from the Triangle, 13 ALE agents 
were working with sheriff's deputies and Kenansville police to police 
the concert venue, according to Seneca.

It was about 6:40 p.m., a little less than an hour before the show 
was to begin, that an officer walking past the tour bus "detected a 
strong odor of marijuana," Seneca said. The officer got permission to 
enter the bus, according to Seneca, and then cited the six entourage 
members. In addition to the bassist, citations were issued to: 
Kenneth Koepke, 52, of Burnet, Texas; Robert Allen Lemons, 59, of 
Spicewood, Texas; Dudley Bishop Prewitt, 59, of Spicewood, Texas; 
Aaron William Foye, 32, of San Marcos, Texas; and Thomas Ray Hawkins, 
54, of Atlantic City, N.J. "They were released in time for them to go 
on stage," Seneca said. He added that the band and crew had been 
respectful of the officers.

Venue Workers Cited

They say others, though, were not thrilled with the incident. John 
Duane Vogt, 58, the general manager of the Duplin County Events 
Center, and Donald Farrior, 50, an assistant from Kenansville, were 
cited for trying to interfere with the ALE investigation. A complaint 
was sent to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.

Nelson's daughter said on the musician's Web site that Thursday 
night's show at the Duplin County Events Center was canceled because 
his hand hurt too badly to play. The right-handed guitar-picker had 
carpal tunnel surgery on his left hand in 2004.
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