The Haggard Brothers with Special Guest Emi Sunshine - The Walker Center
26003
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The Haggard Brothers with Special Guest Emi Sunshine

March 13, 2020

Doors open at 7:00 pm

Show starts at 7:30 pm

Purchase Tickets

May 10-May 31: Current Season Ticket Holders Renewal

June 17-July 12: New Season Ticket Sales to General Public

July 15 at Noon: Individual Show Tickets On Sale

“I live the kinda life most men only dream of/I make my livin’ writin’ songs and singin’ them,” -Merle Haggard, “Footlights.” For fans of his late, legendary father, country music great Merle Haggard, his youngest son Ben is no Stranger – in fact, he’s been the lead guitarist in Hag’s longtime band of the same name for the past eight years, since he was 15 years old, fitting in easily with veterans like musical director Norm Hamlet and Scott Joss. Ben was a regular on Merle Haggard’s recordings, took the stage with him and the Highwaymen (Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson) as well as Blake Shelton for a memorable performance at the 2014 Grammys and for the 2012 “All for the Hall” show besides two of his idols, Vince Gill and Keith Urban. Earlier this year, Ben was featured with the Strangers backing Toby Keith for a Merle tribute on the nationally televised American Country Countdown Awards. He also contributed versions of “Mama Tried” and “Sing Me Back Home” to 2014’sWorking Man’s Poet:Tribute to Merle Haggard album which also featured Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley. Since Merle’s death on April 6, 2016 – which was also his 79th birthday (a fact he had eerily predicted)– Ben Haggard hasn’t missed a beat, passing on the legacy of his dad’s music with brother Noel and the Strangers, joined on several dates by longtime friend Kris Kristofferson, opening for another frequent Hag partner, Willie Nelson. Taking the torch from the Haggard paterfamilias, Haggard recalls a conversation he had with Merle, who sported what his son described as “a look of great depth in his eyes… He was always right about something he said because he had thought about it for so long. He overanalyzed everything to the finest degree in the most artistic way possible.” Ben recalls Merle telling him, “You’d be an idiot not to take my guitar and my bus, not to sing my songs for as long as you can… Go out there and play until there’s nobody to play to.” And that is precisely what Ben Haggard has done over these past months and will continue to do in the near-future, effectively putting his own promising musical career on the back burner for the time being – even as he plans to relocate to Nashville to pursue his own artistic identity when he’s ready. For anyone who’s heard young Haggard play guitar with his father, that talent is undeniable, but he’s only recently discovered a singing voice that, while borrowing genetically from dad’s well-worn gravitas, adds its own fresh take on songs like “Sing Me Back Home” (a performance of which is featured on Ben’s Facebook page), “Heaven Was a Drink Of Wine,” “Workin’ Man Blues” and “What Am I Gonna Do With the Rest of My Life?,” all of them taking on new meanings in the wake of Hag’s passing. “I watched him sing on-stage, absorbed the little things he was doing, the tricks with his voice, how he handled the crowd,” says Ben, who obviously learned his lessons well. “It was like going back to school. Things I didn’t realize I picked up from the eight years I spent on the road with him started to come into play. My fear of the mic kind of slipped away. Things just unfolded in a beautiful way. I’m now starting to feel comfortable singing for people.” Indeed, Ben Haggard has proven as natural a performer as you’d expect from someone with his DNA. “I’ve always suffered from stage fright. I only sang in front of my father a couple of times, once live and once in the studio. All of a sudden, he’s telling me I’ve got to sing for everybody. I had to grow a pair of balls, get out there and do it.”

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