This article is going to cover several subject on some happenings in the music world all of them related to the honor of Country Legend Merle Haggard, whom as you know we lost last year. You know my style folks if I have several things that I can juxtapose together into one article I’ll do just that. I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy reading about what I have for you here.
Photo courtesy of my friend Mr. Gene Thorne.
I’d like to open this article with some words for the death of Country Legend Don Markham, one of the last members of Merle Haggard’s band the Strangers. Don Markham played saxophone on all of Merle’s albums from his debut in 1965 called “The Strangers” on Capitol Records, and through 1977 when he released “Ramblin Fever” on MCA.
Don Markham spent his final days in the same mobile home where he spent the last 50 years residing in, and died Feb 24rth in California of undisclosed reasons. Merle Haggard was publicly known to visit Don Markham on a regular basis.
He spent many years playing in the Bakersfield club the iconic Blackboard, and he joined the Strangers full time while touring with Johnny Paycheck. He once quoted this to the Hall Of Fame during the Bakersfield exhibit opening:
“I was starting to move around and thinking about going to work in country music,” Markham said in an interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville in 2012, during the opening of an exhibit devoted to the Bakersfield Sound. “It seemed like in Bakersfield not a lot was going on with what I played in pop and jazz. The country people were so much nicer and appreciative of you playing for them than other kinds of music that I just fell in love with it.”
“Don has played on every recording I’ve made since 1974, every single release,” Haggard said at the Hall of Fame Bakersfield exhibit opening in 2012. “I’ve had different guitar players, and different musicians change around, but he’s been on every one of them. … It just was a little different and I liked it that way. I think Don was glad I liked it that way.”
Don Markham was one of the many Legends that came up through the Bakersfield area, however he came up thorough R and B and pop with a sound all his own. He brought a fresh sound to the Strangers and for it’s time it was proof to the Nashville establishment that horns could be used in Bakersfield Sound, even though some considered Merle Haggard to be a part of the Outlaw Movement.
From my books and studies it seemed that Don was having serious issues with Johnny Paycheck’s band and brothers and was being the teased for being a horn player, and when the bus pulled to a roadside diner Don approached Merle Haggard and asked for a job. He was granted a job right there on the spot and when he was hired he immediately got on Merle’s bus and drove off with them. Merle Haggard saw the addition of Don as an opportunity to emulate some sounds and styles of his own hero Bob Wills.
Now I would like to change gears and bring about a separate show but it still glorifies the Hag, and this will be held at the iconic Southgate House in Newport Kentucky on April 6th. HAGFEST: Josh Morningstar & The Pickups, Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen, Joe’s Truck Stop, Billie Gant, The Harold Kennedy Trio, Chris Acker and the Growing Boys, Pat Hu & The Kentucky River Ramblers, Thorn County, Maria Carrelli
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP)
DOORS: 7:00 PM / SHOW: 8:00 PM
$12.00 – $15.00
This event is 18 and over
Now I cannot make this show because two days later I have previously committed to other gatherings but I was informed of this event and I CERTAINLY endorse these bands and this event. I’ll link all the bands here:
Josh Morningstar And The Pick Ups
Tod Day Wait’s Pigpen
Joe’s Truck Stop
The Harold Kennedy Trio
Chris Acker And The Growing Boys
Pat Hu And The Kentucky Rive Ramblers
As many of you know Mr. Joshua Morningstar was my 2015 Artist Of The Year, and I recently covered Mr. Joe Macheret when he was playing with Mr. Scott from Buffalo Wabs And The Price Hill Hustle as Truckstop Waterfall. You’ll all also be hearing from my website reporting on Mr. Billie Gant’s newest release with Nick Geise. This video is of Truckstop Waterfall from 2017.
Now once again I will change functions and still remain on the subject of Merle Haggard. This spring on April 6th at the Bridgestone in downtown Nashville many of Today’s more mainstream stars will gather to pay tribute to Merle Haggard by playing his songs and telling stories about him. Tickets for this event go on sale this coming Friday and I will update this article with a route to buy tickets.
Hank Williams Jr.
The Avertt Brothers
ABOUT THE SHOW
Sing Me Back Home: The Music Of Merle Haggard, an all-star concert event taping at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee will take place on Thursday, April 6, 2017 in honor of what would have been Merle’s 80th birthday and the one-year anniversary of his passing.
This one-night-only concert event taping will bring together fans, friends, and music icons to honor the life and songs of music legend Merle Haggard. Sing Me Back Home: The Music Of Merle Haggard will feature performances by Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, John Mellencamp, Dierks Bentley, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Jr., The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams, Ben Haggard, John Anderson, Connie Smith, and Bobby Bare. Additional performers to be announced in the coming weeks.
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Merle Haggard racked up an astounding 38 number one country hits and every major award imaginable. Songs like “Mama Tried,” “Okie From Muskogee,” “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” and “The Fightin’ Side Of Me” continue to inspire new generations of artists and fans alike, and as we approach what would have been a major milestone, the time has come to celebrate his truly remarkable career. He was an iconoclast who refused to bend to country music convention and helped create the indelible Bakersfield sound. He gave voice to outlaws and outsiders in a way that few, if any, have ever equaled.