Personnel: Merle Haggard (vocals, guitar); Jarvis Green, Freddy Powers (acoustic guitar); Redd Volkart (guitar); Norman Hamlet (pedal steel guitar,
dobro); Johnny Gimble (mandolin, fiddle); Jimmy Belken, Abe Manuel (fiddle);
Don Markham (saxophone, trumpet, background vocals); Eddie Curtis (bass); Randy Mason (drums); Theresa Lane Haggard, Bonnie Owens (background vocals).
Recorded live at Billy Bob's Texas, Fort Worth, Texas. Includes liner notes by Bill Mack.
Personnel: Merle Haggard (vocals, guitar); Merle Haggard; Bonnie Owens (vocals, background vocals); Jarvis Green, Freddy Powers (acoustic guitar); Johnny Gimble (mandolin, fiddle); Jim Belken, Abe Manuel, Jr. (fiddle); Randy Mason (drums); Theresa Lane Haggard (background vocals); Redd Volkaert (guitar); Norm Hamlet (steel guitar, dobro); Don Markham (saxophone, trumpet, background vocals); Eddie Curtis, Randy Mason.
Audio Mixers: Lou Bradley; Mark Lambert.
Liner Note Author: Bill Mack.
Recording information: Billy Bob's Texas, Fort Worth, TX.
Longtime Hag fans who pine for Merle's salad days and bemoan the quality of his recent recordings compared to the grandeur of his classic '60s albums have reason to rejoice. This live album captures the late-'90s Merle in concert, a mode in which he has always excelled. Most of the cuts included here are ones that made Haggard famous--hard-drinkin' honky-tonk anthems like "Swinging Doors" and "The Bottle Let Me Down" as well as heartfelt ballads such as "Silver Wings."
As he got older, Merle indulged his jazz leanings more and more, investing his lyrics with swinging, understated phrasing that made George Jones sound like Ernest Tubb. Thus, the older, jazzier Merle's takes on these old tunes offer a fresh perspective. Merle's approach here is echoed by the Western Swing-style trumpet and pedal steel solos that dominate the tunes' instrumental sections. The presence of monster guitarist Red Volkaert--who's absorbed every note of Merle's recorded canon and plays like he exited the womb with Telecaster in hand--serves to remind that Haggard's roots are still in honky-tonk.