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A familiar "Aloha y'all" kicks things off each Sunday night, as Tim Vandeveer bridges cultural and musical divides with Americana tunes that are "contrary to ordinary." "At my family reunions we always sing 'Blessed be the tie that binds,' and more and more I realize that music is often the tie" says Vandeveer, who has hosted the show for ten years on HPR. He often ties in themes and draws correlations between different kinds of music that might not seem related at all. "Hawaii helped me to understand those connections, both musically and spiritually" Tim says. "Take paniolo songs, or the steel guitar. Without Hawaiian music, there is no Country and Western music. They were riding and roping and singing about it in Hawaii before they even invented the term 'cowboy' in Texas. The steel guitar helped define Country in the 20th Century and most folks on the mainland often fail to remember that it was invented right here."
Tim started radio while in college in 1997 on a commercial station located between San Antonio and Austin Texas, where his show followed a Baptist church program on Sunday mornings. "That was a tough act to follow; we'd go from 'The River of Jordan' to 'Whiskey River' and not even skip a beat, although more than a few listeners were initially shocked and awed," says Tim. "The program director there was looking for a show that could serve to bridge the gap between the music of up and coming independent singer-songwriters and the pioneers of the genre. I was raised on Willie's music. As a third generation fan I knew that he had played alongside the fathers of Country music and that his contemporaries were Hall of Famers to boot. Yet he was still recording alongside and influencing present-day artists. He was unique in that regard. He is a musical touchstone and a true living legend. "Tim retired from radio when he moved to the islands in 2001, but the death of Waylon Jennings the following year changed his mind. "I was bar tending down in Kaneohe at the time and came in to work pretty bummed out because I knew Waylon and was a big fan of his music. One of my buddies asked me what was wrong and when I told him that Waylon had died he gave me this puzzled look and asked 'Who's that?'" I asked other young people in the restaurant and nobody who had grown up here was familiar with his music. They all seemed to think that Country music was this narrowly defined, quasi-pop-rock stuff that was being pumped out of Nashville on commercial radio." Tim quickly called family in Texas and asked them to send his music collection then began preparing to pitch the show. "I knew there was only one place that might value the small but obvious niche that this program could fill on the radio." After then-HPR program director Jeff Ilardi heard an interview Tim conducted with Willie Nelson in 2000, he was on board. "Hawaii Public Radio has been a home to the show ever since, and I count the people who work and volunteer here as family."
Not surprisingly, the current program still features the life and music of the man Tim calls the show's patron saint: Willie Nelson - as well as Willie's friends and extended musical family, but has grown to incorporate much more than just outlaws and independent songwriters. "We have great roots musicians making music right here at home, and I've had the pleasure to welcome them onto my show and into the Atherton as performers here at HPR."
When he's not hosting the show or playing the part of paniolo on Oahu's fabled North Shore, he's busy trying to help preserve farmland in rural Oahu and "Keep the Country, Country!" as an environmental writer and activist.
Full Nelson is produced entirely by Tim from his own music collection. You can hear the show Sunday nights right after American Routes.