South by Southwest (SXSW) is moving online for 2021 and Texas’ own Willie Nelson will be one of the headliners.
“No individual has had the cultural impact on, or been more synonymous with, the creative vibrancy of Austin than Willie Nelson, and we are incredibly honoured to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 Keynote,” Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s chief programming officer, told the Austin Chronicle.
The conference will run from Mar. 16 to 20 and has been built as a “digital experience.”
According to the SXSW site, the conference will feature panel discussions, music showcases, film screenings and the “unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW.”
It’s not clear yet what Nelson will be discussing or how he will be performing, but cannabis will likely factor in at some point.
The activist, musician, author and cannabis entrepreneur has launched two weed companies, Willie’s Reserve, which sells a line of flower, vapes, edibles and accessories, and Willie’s Remedy, which sells hemp-based products, such as CBD-infused balms, tinctures and teas.
In 2019, Nelson told Jimmy Fallon his role at Willie’s Reserve was CTO, or chief testing officer.
“I haven’t run across any that I didn’t like,” Nelson said, before sharing that cannabis helped him kick his three-pack-a-day cigarette habit, which led to multiple bouts of pneumonia.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute. I ain’t getting that high off of Chesterfields.’ So I throw out the cigarettes, rolled up 20 joints, stuck it in there. I haven’t had a cigarette since,” Nelson said.
The online nature of this year’s event means that Nelson won’t be able to continue his usual practice of gifting cannabis to fellow musicians and fans alike.
“We were invited to play with Willie Nelson a couple of months ago and he was travelling through his tour with his big bus giving away weed to everybody,” Led Zeppelin singer/songwriter Robert Plant said in September 2020.
“He just gives it away. It’s a truckload from here to the … mirrorball and beyond. Free. With doors to go in, get your little hit and go out the other side.”
With good reason, Plant called the tour one of the “high points” of his career.