Marty Haggard, the son of country music legend Merle Haggard, will return to The Pines Theater on Nov. 21.
The country singer plans to spend the night singing his favorite songs that his dad wrote and reminisce about the good memories with his father, he said.
“I never really know the details of what’s going to happen,” he said. “People like to hear the stories as much as the music. … I never plan it out. I don’t consider what to do for a show. It’s not the same every time, and it’s definitely not the same from night to night.”
Haggard had a career separate from his father’s that started in 1979, he said. But eight or nine years ago he started to tour small towns with his dad’s music because he never gets tired of talking about his dad or singing his music, and wanted to share that with his fans.
“It’s like looking at family pictures,” he said. “All these songs were part of my life and relationship with my dad.”
His dad wore his life on his sleeve, Haggard said. He could always tell his father’s moods from his albums, even when they’d gone months without seeing or speaking to each other, he said.
“Music was a direct reflection of his life,” he said. “One thing Dad always told me was to be myself, never something I’m not.”
Haggard’s relationship with music comes from his relationship with his dad, he said. Unlike many of his friends at the time, he didn’t have a burning desire to pursue a musical career. It was while at a show with Leona Haggard, one of his stepmothers, that he was first brought on stage and performed in public.
“Without her, I’d have never gone out there and got a standing ovation for my two songs,” he said. “She believed in me and thought I needed the encouragement. When she introduced me, I was shocked.”
Before that, he’d primarily played for her and his dad, but never in public. He said playing with the band was never difficult, he just fell into it naturally.
“That’s how my teen years went. Dad made me sing in a recording studio, but looking back, there was never a point where I wanted to go to Nashville to get a record deal,” he said. “It never entered my mind. I just wanted to play, not for a profession.”
That mindset is what has led to this latest tour with his dad’s music. He gets to choose what songs he plays, what stories he tells, and while it provides income, the money is not the sole driving force, he said.