Merle Haggard Tribute Concert at the Bridgestone in Nashville

So, I’m going to skip the breakfast chatter and the info about the car museum (interesting but not the main event today!) and go right to the concert.  The best concert ever.  The line-up went like this:

Ben Haggard & the Strangers – “What Am I Gonna Do”
Ben Haggard, Aaron Lewis & the Strangers – “Heaven Was a Drink of Wine”
Tanya Tucker & the Strangers – “Farmer’s Daughter”
Bobby Bare & the Strangers – “The Fugitive”
Connie Smith & the Strangers – “That’s the Way Love Goes”
John Anderson & the Strangers – “Big City”
Toby Keith & the Strangers – “Carolyn/Daddy Frank”
Jake Owen and Chris Janson – “Footlights”
Miranda Lambert – “Misery & Gin”
Rodney Crowell – “You Don’t Have Very Far to Go”
Jamey Johnson – “Kern River”
Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss – “If I Could Only Fly”
Alison Krauss – “Sing a Sad Song”
Alabama – “Silver Wings”
Hank Williams Jr. – “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
Loretta Lynn – “Today I Started Loving You”
Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Honky Tonk Nighttime Man”
The Avett Brothers – “Mama Tried”
John Mellencamp – “White Line Fever”
Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow Stew”
Ronnie Dunn – “It’s All in the Movies”
Billy Gibbons – “The Bottle Let Me Down”
Warren Haynes and Billy Gibbons – “Workin’ Man Blues”
Dierks Bentley – “If We Make It Through December”
Lucinda Williams – “Going Where the Lonely Go”
Sheryl Crow – “Natural High”
Keith Richards – “Sing Me Back Home”
Keith Richards and Willie Nelson – “Reasons to Quit”
Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney – “Pancho and Lefty”
Willie Nelson and Toby Keith – “Ramblin’ Fever”
Willie Nelson and cast – “Okie From Muskogee”

It was almost 4 hours of absolutely fantastic music. Our seats were on the floor right in front of the light/sound deck so we were able to stand for most of the concert without annoying anyone.  This was lucky as a group of young and drunk fans were right in front of us and while we did enjoy being part of their party, since they were on their feet until they were sufficiently drunk to prefer sitting, we kind of had to stand.  I’m not sure we would have been able to stay sitting anyway – the feeling in the auditorium was electric and it was more like being at a huge party than being at a concert.

The MC, W Earl Brown, was funny and kept us all engaged.  And there were so many fantastic moments – when Jamey Johnson escorted Loretta Lynn onto the stage with such awe on his face – and then they sang Today I Started Loving You Again… Loretta is 85 but her voice is the same voice we’ve always known.  Amazing.  Then Jamey Johnson and Allison Krauss sang If Only I Could Fly – a beautiful rendition that made me think that these two should play together more.  Later Jake Owens & Chris Janson whipped the crowd into a frenzy with Footlights – a rollicking version of this Merle song. Hank Williams Jr sang I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink. All the good Merle Haggard songs were done at this concert.

One of the best performances was from Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) and Warren Haynes who did a blues version of Workin’ Man Blues – it was Fantastic! Such an excellent rendition of this song:  here – go listen to it  🙂  Don’t stop before 3:40 – you’ll regret it  🙂

When W Earl Brown introduced Keith Richards, Keith quipped “It’s good to be here!” then added “It’s good to be anywhere”  🙂  The audience went wild.  And when Willie Nelson joined Keith Richards got onstage and they sang Reasons to Quit, the entire audience was once again up on their feet. Can you imagine that we got to see this?  Willie and Keith on one stage… it was amazing.

Then the whole thing wound up with the entire line-up on stage together to sing Okie From Muskogee…  and that was it.  With sore feet, ringing ears (ok, we’re getting old) and grins from ear to ear, we made our way outside with the 17,998 friends we had made through the evening.  After a month of planning and waiting, we’d finally made it to Nashville and saw the concert we had been waiting to see.

I can’t begin to tell you what fun I’ve had or how much I loved doing this with Warren – a wonderful and patient travelling companion and my sweetie pie 🙂  We had and are having a great time.

Tomorrow will be the Grand Ole Opry!

Take care!


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