Country music legacy Ben Haggard, son of Country music great Merle Haggard, live at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall December 13, 2017! Ben Haggard will be playing beloved Merle songs in an acoustic setting.
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$35.50 — Rows A through E
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For fans of his late, legendary father and 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 Haggard was 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 beside 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’s Working 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 – Ben Haggard hasn’t missed a beat, passing on the legacy of his dad’s music with brother Noel and the Strangers. Taking the torch from the Haggard paterfamilias, Haggard recalls a conversation he had with Merle. “You’d be an idiot not take my guitar and my bus, not to sing my songs for as long as you can,” Merle said to Ben. “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 rediscovered a singing voice that, while borrowing genetically from dad’s well-worn gravitas, adds it own fresh take on songs like “Sing Me Back Home,” “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. Indeed Ben has proven as natural a performer as you’d expect from someone with his DNA. His next challenge is to carve out his own musical career, lest he be accused, as he says in his own self-effacing way, “of riding someone else’s coattails.” When asked what his own musical personality might be, Ben admits, like his father, he feels like a bit of an outsider when it comes to contemporary country music. He also admits feeling a creative kinship with Americana artists like Sturgill Simpson. The two have struck up a friendship, with Simpson agreeing to produce Ben’s album when he’s ready to record.
For now, Ben’s content with burnishing his father’s legacy, playing his songs and pleasing Merle’s many fans, doing his part as the good son. “When I’m compared to him, I realize it’s to someone far greater, but it gives me hope and the drive to emerge from his shadow, and hopefully, one day, to stand just as tall,” Ben says humbly. “Merle shot for the moon, and there’s no reason I can’t aim for it, too.”