Archive for the ‘Merle Haggard’ Category

Toby Keith, Willie Nelson Tribute Merle Haggard With ‘Ramblin’ Fever’

Monday, April 17th, 2017
by: Carrie Horton

Toby Keith and Willie Nelson teamed up to perform an epic cover of Merle Haggard‘s “Rambin’ Fever” at the Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard tribute concert in Nashville on April 6. Click play above to watch the duo perform Haggard’s 1977 hit, and scroll down to check out a special solo performance from Keith.

Originally released as part of Haggard’s 1977 album of the same name, “Ramblin’ Fever” is characterized by the country icon’s signature songwriting, which reads like a story, and his ability to portray bravado and compassion in the same breath. When lyrics such as “If someone said I ever gave a damn, they damn sure told you wrong” combine with the quavering warble of Haggard’s vocals, listeners can’t help but wonder if he really does care more than he lets on.

During Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard, Nelson made multiple appearances onstage, performing hits from his and Haggard’s 1983 collaborative record Pancho & Lefty as well as solo-Haggard hits such as “Rambin’ Fever.” Along with his appearance with Keith, Nelson also performed “Pancho and Lefty” with Kenny Chesney and “Reasons to Quit” with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Keith also performed more than once during the special concert event, taking the stage a second time for a solo performance of Haggard’s 1971 chart-topper “Carolyn.” Originally released as the second single from his Someday We’ll Look Back album, the song earned Haggard his 11th No. 1 hit and was the perfect tune for Keith to perform in his honor.

Other artists who took the stage to honor Haggard during Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard included Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Chris Janson, Sheryl Crow and Loretta Lynn. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefited the TJ Martell Foundation.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Pancho and Lefty”

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp in Nashville for Merle Haggard #SingMeBackHome

Monday, April 10th, 2017

— Farm Aid (@FarmAid) April 7, 2017

Board Members Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp in Nashville, to celebrate life and music of Merle Haggard.

Willie Nelson, Keith Richards, “Reason to Quit”

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Willie Nelson and dozens of others gather to celebrate music of Merle Haggard in Nashville

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

photo:  Joshua Timmerman
by:  Sarah Rodman

Not that anyone needed to be convinced of the depth and breadth of Merle Haggard’s formidable influence — on country music and beyond. But a spectacular case was made for his legacy Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena here.

One year to the day that Haggard died, more than two dozen artists across genres and multiple generations gathered to pay tribute to the American music legend on what would have been his 80th birthday.

“Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard” featured collaborators and peers (Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn), younger artists (Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves) who aspire to his authenticity and a bevy of pop and rock acolytes (Keith Richards, John Mellencamp and Sheryl Crow) who cite him as an influence.

From the cheeky swagger of Hank Williams Jr.’s take on “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” — a perfect marriage of singer and song — to the delicacy of Alison Krauss’ intonation of “Sing a Sad Song,” with rich harmonic help from the Cox Family, the three-plus-hour show had an air of both celebration and solemnity.

Veteran character actor W. Earl Brown (“Deadwood,” “True Detective”), a fan and friend of Haggard’s, hosted the event with élan and a broad, booming personality well-suited to keeping things moving.

Guitarist Ben Haggard, Merle’s son, anchored the first part of the show, leading his father’s old band, the Strangers, behind a parade of classic artists who still have plenty left in the tank: John Anderson, Bobby Bare, the still-feisty Tanya Tucker and a full-voiced Connie Smith, who did a gorgeous rendition of “That’s the Way Love Goes.”

Among the younger set, Lambert delivered a note-perfect rendition of the melancholic “Misery and Gin,” an occasional favorite of her regular shows. Chris Janson and Jake Owen were among several artists teaming up to pay homage, with an assured version of “Footlights” that found Janson turning out smoky harmonica wails.

Alabama kept it simple and stripped down for a harmony-laden rendition of the rueful “Silver Wings.” Jamey Johnson gave one of the night’s standout performances with “Kern River,” a hushed tale of both menace and sadness that drew huge cheers from the crowd. The estimably beaded Johnson joined forces with Krauss to tip a cap to songwriter Blaze Foley with a poignant duet of “If I Could Only Fly.” Johnson also offered an arm to help Lynn to the stage for her take on “Today I Started Loving You.”

Interspersed between the sets were tribute videos that included one section devoted to Haggard’s side-splitting appearances on vintage talk and variety shows, doing spot-on impersonations of fellow country stars Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Bakersfield compadre Buck Owens.

The second set had just as much bang for the buck, including Lynyrd Skynyrd’s stomp through “Honky Tonk Nighttime Man” and a scorching version of “Working Man Blues” from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule.

The Avett Brothers ably motored through “Mama Tried,” Mellencamp and a core crew (including his former drummer, Kenny Aronoff) performed a haunting rendition of the snarling, desperate “White Line Fever” and Crow soared on “Natural High.”

Richards, a late addition to the lineup, emerged and was his typically shambolic self, lending his piratical charm to “Sing Me Back Home,” which the Stone alone recorded in 1977.

“It’s good to be here,” Richards said, adding with a laugh, “or anywhere.” He also made sure to thank the evening’s truly all-star backing band, which included Aronoff, Don Was on bass, Sam Bush on fiddle and mandolin, Mickey Raphael on harmonica and the McCrary Sisters on support vocals.

While the crowd was appreciative of all the performers, the loudest roar was reserved for Haggard’s close friend and collaborator, Willie Nelson, the Pancho to Haggard’s Lefty.

Nelson joined Richards for the ode to bad behavior “Reasons to Quit” and Toby Keith for a raucous “Ramblin’ Fever.” Appropriately enough, Kenny Chesney served as Nelson’s Lefty for the night on the Southwestern-tinged track, a highlight of the Nelson-Haggard canon.

The show came to a rousing conclusion with an all-hands rendition of Haggard’s signature tune “Okie From Muskogee.” It was a particularly fine touch to have Nelson croon the opening line, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee.”

The concert was recorded for broadcast at a later date on an as-yet-to-be-determined outlet.

“Okie from Muskogee” — stars gather to honor Merle Haggard in Nashville

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Willie Nelseon, Kenny Chesney, Mickey Raphael in Nashville, at Tribute Concert for Merle Haggard

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Kenny Chesney and Willie and Mickey

Posted by Michelle Manning Barish on Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thank you, Michelle Manning Barish, for sharing your video of Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney singing, “Pancho and Lefty”.

Willie Nelson and Toby Keith in Nashville, “Take Me Back Home: Tribute to Merle Haggard”

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Thanks to Elaine Shock, for sharing her photo from last night’s concert honoring Merle Haggard.

Willie Nelson premieres song in tribute to Merle Haggard

Friday, April 7th, 2017

One year ago, we lost country icon and close friend of Outlaw Country and Willie’s Roadhouse, Merle Haggard. Today, on what would’ve been his 80th birthday, we honor his legacy with the help of Willie Nelson.

As a tribute to his late friend, Willie premiered a new song titled He Won’t Ever Be Gone, which will be featured on his forthcoming album God’s Problem Child. Written by Gary Nicholson, the song remembers Willie’s outlaw country comrade, whose last album, 2015’s Django and Jimmie, was a musical collaboration with Willie.

At an album premiere event in Nashville this week, Willie spoke about making music and touring with the fellow Country Music Hall of Famer.

“It was one of those really good friend things that over the years we just got together more and more and enjoyed it and decided, ‘Hey, we should do more music together,’” he said. “The next thing you know, we’re touring. I was really glad to see Merle out there at this stage in his career, really out there doing a great tour with him and his band and having a No. 1 album. So I was really proud for Merle.”

Willie Nelson and Friends to honor Merle Haggard in Nashville: April 6, 2017

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Enter for chance to win tickets to see Willie Nelson & friends honor Merle Haggard at “Sing Me Back Home” concert in Nashville

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Merle Haggard to be honored by Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Hank WIlliams, Jr., and other friends

Monday, March 13th, 2017
by: Kristin M. Hall

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The late country star Merle Haggard will be honored a year after his death with an all-star concert featuring his longtime friend and duet partner Willie Nelson as well as Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, John Mellencamp and more.
“Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard” will be held in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on April 6, which would have been the songwriter’s 80th birthday.

Additional performers include Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Jr., The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Dierks Bentley, Ronnie Dunn, Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams, Ben Haggard, John Anderson, Connie Smith and Bobby Bare. Tickets go on sale March 3.

Keith Wortman, CEO of Blackbird Presents, which has produced tributes to John Lennon, Kris Kristofferson and Gregg Allman, said Nelson originally came up with the idea for a tribute concert and Haggard’s wife, Theresa, and his son, Ben, helped select the artists to be included. Haggard and Nelson recorded several albums together, including “Pancho & Lefty,” and Haggard’s last released album, “Django and Jimmie,” in 2015.

Haggard died April 6 on his 79th birthday after a career spanning five decades and dozens of iconic hits, including “Okie from Muskogee,” ”Mama Tried,” ”Hungry Eyes,” ”Today I Started Loving You Again” and such blue collar chronicles as “If We Make It Through December” and “Workin’ Man Blues.”

Merle Haggard to be honored in Nashville by Willie Nelson & Friends (April 6, 2017)

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Merle Haggard will be the focus of a new tribute concert set for April 6th in Nashville. “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard” marks what would have been the influential singer-songwriter’s 80th birthday as well as the first anniversary of his death: Haggard died on April 6th, 2016.

Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert anchor the wildly diverse lineup: Dierks Bentley, Hank Williams Jr., Loretta Lynn and John Mellencamp are all on the bill, along with Kacey Musgraves, the Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, John Anderson, Connie Smith, Bobby Bare, Ronnie Dunn and Jamey Johnson.

Southern-rock road warriors Lynyrd Skynyrd, Americana pioneer Lucinda Williams and Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes are also set to perform. Haggard’s guitarist son Ben Haggard, Don Was and Buddy Cannon are the concert’s music directors.

Held at the Bridgestone Arena, the show is a production of Blackbird Presents, who staged a similar all-star tribute to Kris Kristofferson last March.

Haggard, one the architects of the Bakersfield Sound and an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1994, was revered for his way with a lyric. He wrote and recorded such country classics as 1966’s “The Bottle Let Me Down,” 1968’s “Mama Tried” and 1969’s “Okie From Muskogee.”
Tickets for “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard” went on sale Friday, March 3rd.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in concert at Anaheim Stadium (Oct 28, 1980)

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
by:  Scott Harrison

Country music greats Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard headlined the six-hour Country Fall Festival event at Anaheim Stadium. Los Angeles Times staff photographer George Rose and columnist Robert Hilburn covered the concert.

Hilburn wrote in his Oct. 28, 1980, Los Angeles Times review:

…“Welcome to Anaheim Stadium,” said the recorded voice over a loudspeaker at the entrance to the facility Sunday afternoon. “No bottles, cans, alcohol, lawn chairs or weapons allowed…”

Lawn chairs or weapons didn’t seem much of an issue among the country fans, but limitations on the alcohol caused some alarm.

“You mean we can’t drink beer!” shouted one fan with an ample belly pressing over his faded jeans. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to a Willie Nelson show and not drink beer.” The group with him hooted in agreement.

“No,” a female usher explained quickly. “You can drink beer inside. You just can’t bring cans and bottles into the stadium.”

Relieved, the group moved into the stadium and took their place at the end of the long beer line.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” a stadium concession worker said later about the beer-drinking. “These people are drinking more beer than the Rams crowd. We’ve gone through 52 cases already.”

Fifty-two cases? That didn’t seem like a lot for a crowd of 30,000.

“I’m not talking about the crowd,” the employee responded. “That was just for backstage.”  …

To avoid damage to the football field Sunday, the crowd had to remain in the stands. Besides limiting mobility, the move reduced contact with the performers. The stage was at second base, roughly 150 feet away from the closest fans. As a result you could barely see performers without binoculars. …

By the time Haggard went on stage, the audience seemed ready to party, regardless of setting.

Though the quality of his recordings sagged in the late ’70s, Haggard rates with Nelson and Waylon Jennings as one of the three most important male artists to enter country music since the ’50s bonanza that produced such giants as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and George Jones.

The good news is that his work has rebounded this year, first with the wry “Misery & Gin” hit from “Bronco Billy” and now his new “Back to the Barrooms” album. Opening with “Misery & Gin” and two songs from the LP, Haggard was far more dynamic than in his journeyman-like Country Club appearance last March. …

He’s such a gifted and convincing singer that he still makes it work, but Nelson should consider revising things. He and the audience would benefit from a few surprises in what has become a familiar ritual.

Predictably, the evening’s strongest response came during Nelson’s outlaw-oriented tunes. As soon as the band went into “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” most of those in the audience leaped to their feet, waving hats and celebrating. …

Haggard’s performance was recorded and released in the 1981 album “Rainbow Stew Live at Anaheim Stadium.”

Other performers at the Country Fall Festival included Alabama and Emmylou Harris.


“Sing Me Back Home” – all star tribute to Merle Haggard (4/6/2017)

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017