LIVE: “Down Every Road: Songs of Merle Haggard” @ the Hangar On the Hudson, 4/10/16
Photographs by Thomas Lindsay
Video and photography by Timothy Reidy
Michael Eck started organizing a concert tribute to the great Merle Haggard back in late February, but when the Hag died just four days before the concert at the Hangar On the Hudson in Troy, “Down Every Road: Songs of Merle Haggard” took on a whole different – and much sadder – tone, shifting from a tribute to a memorial.
From Ramblin Jug Stompers to Caroline MotherJudge to Big Frank & the Bargain Bingers, the four-hour affair featured a who’s-who of Greater Nippertown’s roots and alt-country music community. If all you knew about Merle Haggard was “Okie from Muskogee,” well, you were in for an eye-opening evening of wide-ranging music that showcased the breadth and depth of Haggard’s rich catalog of songs.
And in the true spirit of community, there was plenty of sittin’ in. Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys were surprised to find themselves backing up Eck to open the show. Then fiddler Tim Wechgalaer joined the Railroad Boys for their selections, and during Wechgalaer’s tunes, he was backed by the Coveralls. And so on and so forth.
Lonesome Val sang back-up vocals for the Lazy Suns on “California Cottonfield.” Pedal steel guitarist Kevin Maul sat in with nearly everyone, and when he wasn’t emceeing the affair, Eck could often be found on stage strumming guitar or picking his mandolin in the background.
From “White Line Fever” to “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” to “If We Make It Through December” to “Silver Wings,” it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite song out of the Merle marathon, but Lonesome Val’s heartbreaking rendition of “I Forget You Everyday” was certainly a top contender.
And by the time Mike McMann and Peggy Lecuyer led the whole ensemble in the grand finale of “Okie,” everyone onstage and off was in good spirits, and more than $1000 had been raised for SongwritingWith:Soliders.