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Country performers pay homage to The Hag

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 – Willie Nelson epitomized the feeling from the country community on Wednesday about the loss of the Merle Haggard, who died earlier in the day at 79 following complications from pneumonia.

"He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him," said Nelson in a post on his web site. Nelson had a long association with The Hag, recording the recent CD "Django and Jimmie" together.

The reaction was immediate from many of today's performers. Eric Church recorded a song called "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag." Church posted lyrics to the song on his Facebook page: "They say country's fading / But just keep waving that flag around here / And I know it'll keep on coming back As long as people pledge allegiance / Where folks still pledge allegiance /I pledge allegiance to the Hag" followed by "Rest in peace."

Church typically performs the song in concert.

Hank Williams Jr. said in a statement, "Merle Haggard was an original. Not just a singer, not just a songwriter, not just another famous performer. He was your common everyday working man. I remember when I was 15 years old on tour with Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. They both were wondering which one of the two was going to make it. Well, they both made it. Today, ole Merle joined Waylon, George, and daddy to sing in the Heavenly choir."

Nancy Jones, widow of George, said, "George and I loved Merle so much. George would always say nobody could ever sing like Merle Haggard. Merle was one of our Country Heroes. Now, George and Merle are together again singing with the Angel Band."

Toby Keith posted on his Facebook page, "The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone. Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag."

Dwight Yoakam, who shared the Bakersfield Sound with which Haggard was a key player, said on his Facebook page, "Nothing to say... just listen... " He posted a video of Haggard singing "Silver Wings" on his page.

Gary Allan said, "Merle was my all-time hero. Today we lost one of the greatest songwriters of country music and I will always regret not recording with him. He was a legend and I was honored whenever we got the chance to share a stage with him. Thank you for the inspiration, the advice and for always being you. I, as well as the entire music community, will miss you Merle."

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CD reviews

Ride Me Back Home CD review - Ride Me Back Home
Time may be an enemy to most, but Willie Nelson seems a bit impervious to its ravages - a fact made evident on "Ride Me Back Home," a relaxed affair that showcases Nelson's still-strong voice and his sharp-as-ever songwriting and interpreting abilities. "Ride Me Back Home" is his 13th album for Legacy Recordings since joining the label in 2012 and coincidentally, it is also the 13th collaboration between Nelson and noted producer Buddy Cannon. This partnership, which »»»
Desperate Man CD review - Desperate Man
While Eric Church has set the bar high with his previous studio albums, "Desperate Man" is right up there with his best and may just be his most accomplished effort to date. Church continues to write memorable songs in a wide variety of styles, and even when he's not singing over country musical elements, his lyrical voice is always undeniably a country one. He also knows how to have a little fun, especially with "Hanging Around," a soulful, funky tune mixing together »»»
My Way CD review - My Way
Not one to rest on his laurels, Willie Nelson's second studio release of the calendar year finds the artist dipping back into the Great American Songbook. Previous collections, including 1978's stellar Stardust, 2009's "American Classic" and 2016's "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin," established Nelson as one of the finest modern interpreters of American standards. So, it is only fitting that he now pays tribute to the man widely recognized as the »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Gayle, Orlando provide good old-fashioned entertainment – Although this pairing of country star Crystal Gayle and Tony Orlando may have - on the surface - appeared to be an odd one, tonight's audience demonstratively loved each performer equally. It was an evening of memorable songs, fun and funny stories and just good old-fashioned entertainment. Gayle opened the show with a strong set of country... »»»
Concert Review: With or without band, Isbell satisfies – Usually, when an artist performs without his regular backing band, it becomes about mathematics of subtraction. That artist is armed with far fewer artistic weapons at his/her disposal, after all. In Jason Isbell's case, though, when he performed with just his wife and fiddler Amanda Shires, it was more about substitution than subtraction.... »»»
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