1281 Gruene Road
New Braunfels, TX 78130
8:00 p.m. Friday, June 21, 2013
Opener: Jaida Dreyer 8pm
Merle Haggard: 9:30pm
Born in a converted boxcar in Oildale, California, by adolescence he was wandering as far as Texas, beginning a pattern that ruled his life for over a decade: arrest, incarceration, escape, re-capture. Classified as incorrigible, he wound up doing hard time in San Quentin. After his 1962 release, thoughts of solitary confinement and the prison yard death of a friend made him realize what a mess he’d become and Haggard, who’d been singing and playing guitar for years, finally turned to a career in music. By 1965 he was signed to Capitol Records and began scoring a string of hit records, hard-boiled classics like “Lonesome Fugitive,” “Branded Man” and “The Bottle Let Me Down.” Eventually winning a full criminal pardon from then Governor Ronald Reagan (it’s on permanent display at the Country Music Hall of Fame), Haggard positively roared through the music business, brawling, boozing, getting high (“Son, Muskogee is the only place I DON’T smoke it,” he said in 1974) with an unstoppable fervor. Haggard remains an uncompromising artist whose work relies upon the honest and purity of his vision, not the obligations of being a country star. The word “legend” usually makes an appearance at some point when discussing Merle Haggard. It’s an acknowledgement of his artistry and his standing as the poet of the common man. It’s a tribute to his incredible commercial success and to the lasting mark he has made, not just on country music, but on American music as a whole.