As a pioneer of modern country and western music and influence on the lives of so many current country stars, it’s hard to think about a legend having heroes.
Merle Haggard, one of the most recognizable voices in country music, has teamed up with one of his big idols, Norman Stephens, for his latest release and tour, which will be stopping in Albuquerque on May 13 at the Sandia Casino Amphitheater.
Stephens, who played guitar with Lefty Frizzell back in the old days, was described by Haggard as one of his idols, so it came as quite a shock that Stephens lived only 40 miles down the road from Haggard in northern California.
On Haggard’s newest release, “Roots Vol. 1,” Haggard pays tribute to his heroes and some of the biggest and best recognized names to ever twang a guitar. Haggard and Stephens recorded three of Frizzell’s old hits, some Hank Thompson tunes and even a few of Hank Williams’, along with three all-new originals.
According to Haggard, the biggest difficulty for him in recording the new and old tracks for “Roots Vol. 1” was making himself sound like a kid again.
Despite the fact that he’s 64 and his new guitarist (Stephens) is 71, Haggard has a full touring schedule, including two shows in New Mexico (one at the Carlsbad Civic Center and the other at the Sandia Casino Amphitheater). Haggard will be playing the majority of his shows on the West Coast, near his birthplace of Bakersfield, but will make it out to South Carolina for a show and to Tennessee, the home of country music, for two shows.
With two great talents such as Haggard and Stephens together on the road, expect plenty of heart felt lyrics and good ol’ fashioned country music, such as “If You Got the Money (I got the time),” from the Okie from Muskogee.
Monday’s showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $15 and $20. For more information contact Sandia Casino ticket office at 897-1137.