On Tuesday morning, Brad Patak called and left a voicemail for me saying that he had an extra ticket to the Merle Haggard concert that night, and asked if I wanted to go.
I immediately called Christine and asked permission to go. She consented, and so I called Brad back to accept the invitation. I was going to see Merle Haggard in concert!
Around 6:00 p.m., Brad met me at my house, and I drove over to the Backyard. We parked, and got our tickets from Will Call, and entered the concert. Merle was playing at “the Glen” which is a smaller venue at the Backyard’s location. It was nice and cozy, and had maybe 20 rows of seats down near the stage, and lots of grass seating as you progressed up the hill from the stage to the entrance at the back of the venue.
When we arrived, some band was playing the opening, warming up the stage for Merle. We got two beers each, and hung out in the back talking.
Around 8:00, one of Merle’s long time friends and songwriters (Freddie Persons maybe?) came on stage and playing a few songs to warm up the crowd a little more. He also had some great one-line zingers that he threw in there between songs… Brad and I got a chuckle out of that.
Then Merle finally came on, and he opened with Mama Tried.
Talk about cool… seeing Merle Haggard play in a relatively small venue, listening to his signature guitar riffs and singing along with the songs we know all of the words too. Songs like: Mama Tried, Working Man’s Blues, Fightin’ Side of Me, Silverwings, etc…
Merle closed the show at 9:15 or 9:30 with Okie from Muskogee, and the crowd tried to get into it with him… I think they would have, but the venue didn’t keep the lights on the crowd long enough… Everyone was singing, but not standing and really putting there all into it. Bad move on the lighting guy’s part.
After Okie from Muskogee, Merle was done, which was bittersweet. It was good because it was 9:30 on a Tuesday night, and I had to get on a plane at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, we still had to stop by Josh and Elise’s to let their cat in (they flew to Vegas Tuesday afternoon for the night) and we both needed to get home as it’s a work day today. But it was bad, because we wanted to see one or two more songs… we wanted an encore.
Regardless, it was a great night. How many people get to see Merle Haggard on a Tuesday night in the Hill Country surroundings of Austin? Not many, I’d bet.
Thanks for the invite Brad… we’ll have to do it again.