A piece of Texas music history will soon be on the road again, thanks to some entrepreneurial Austinites. Recently, Taylor Perkins, founder of Austin Restaurant Week and Vintage Innovations, and Michael "Stix" Tashnick purchased Willie Nelson and the Family Band's former tour bus, which they will turn into a mobile museum of sorts for superfans.
Fans will be able to charter the bus to festivals and concerts through Vintage Innovations.
It all started with a Craigslist ad posted last month auctioning off the 1983 Eagle tour bus that was previously owned by Willie Nelson Family Band drummer Paul English, and home to Nelson and the rest of the Family Band for many years. Christened "Me and Paul," after the popular album and song, the bus was sold by Tom O’Leary of Whitehouse, Texas, for more than $80,000.
Perkins operates Vintage Innovations, a company that restores and rents vintage trailers and buses. Through that outlet, fans will be able to charter Willie’s bus to festivals and concerts, as a living tribute to his legacy (and a pretty sweet ride, in general). While the bus currently features iconic exterior murals, interior velvet curtains and stained-glass windows from Willie's era of travel, Vintage Innovations plans to hire local artisans to completely restore the bus to its original grandeur.
"We are nostalgia geeks, and when I found the opportunity to own something this cool I had to move quickly," said Perkins. "This was something we couldn’t pass up. We are excited to give fans a chance to experience a taste of life as Willie lives it."
Perkins and Tashnick plan to give a little something back to Willie in the process, too. Vintage Innovations will donate portions of the bus rental fees to Farm Aid, the charity organization co-founded by Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp to assist American family farms.
"We felt this was a great way we could give something back to Willie, who has done so much for our state and the people in it."