Merle Haggard returns to stage for first time after cancer surgery
Friday, January 2, 2009
– Merle Haggard is returning to the stage tonight in California for his first shows since undergoing lung cancer surgery in early November.
In an interview with Reuters, Haggard said, "I think we can stir up some good humor out there among the folks that are crying for good news, and just give them a moment's happiness."
The Hag will play tonight and tomorrow in Bakersfield at the Crystal Palace, which he claimed were the first shows where he performed without using tobacco or marijuana, he said. "So it's gonna be interesting as to what kind of a show comes out of this body that's used to performing the other way."
Haggard said he quit using either four days before his Nov. 3 surgery. He does not need radiation or chemotherapy.
He also intended to keep busy on the road this year, he said in the interview, playing atypical sites, such as churches, hospitals and prisons. "Especially women's prisons, they get overlooked," he said. "We played a women's prison in Wyoming one time, and it was the greatest response I've ever received in my life. Forty women was all that were there, and 40 women cried when we left."
Haggard's last disc was "The Bluegrass Sessions" in 2007 on Del McCoury's label.
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The Strangers are a talented and extremely flexible band, as Haggard's mood can vary from showing off his rich singing voice on ballads to playing the jazzy guitar hero via Western swing material. Thus, it takes a multi-faceted combo, like The Strangers, to keep up with Haggard's many moods.
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