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story.lead_photo.caption Marty Haggard will pay tribute to his famous father, Merle Haggard, in a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at Country Music USA in New Boston, Texas. (Submitted photo)

NEW BOSTON, Texas—An evening filled with songs and stories makes Marty Haggard's Tribute to My Dad concert on Saturday, March 30, at Music Country USA an intimate occasion.

Haggard, the iconic country music singer's oldest son, will make this a personal experience that's more of a tribute to a father he loved than a tribute to Merle Haggard, per se. In his father, he sees the greatest singer and songwriter of all time, performing what he views as real country.

An outgrowth from the tribute show the son began in Branson, Mo., in 2010, the Tribute to My Dad concert marks a third stage in the son's career, which spans roughly 40 years, starting with his own successful original music and then a music ministry.

At the center of the show is Marty's love for the late, great singer who defined the Bakersfield sound of country music. Having left Nashville a long time ago, the son's love for Merle's music inspired him.

"As far as the music goes, there's just none better. I started realizing that I am his oldest son," Marty said, noting he also went on the road with his dad as Merle wrote and recorded, which gave him knowledge.

"I know more about his music and his life than anybody walking, I would imagine," Marty said. "So I realized some of these stories that I know, people are real interested in hearing them and the music's wonderful. If that's all I did, I'd be fine, but they really enjoy hearing the stories behind certain songs that Dad did over the years. That's what this is."

He describes it as a front-porch, living room experience. It's intimate with storytelling and song, he says. "Very personal," Marty said. Keeping his dad's type of music alive served as another motivator.

"His brand of music is kind of fading out," Marty said. "That's sad because it's some of the greatest music ever made." He doesn't necessarily feel a sense of duty, because his father always told him to do whatever he wanted to do and to be himself.

"One of the similarities we have is in our taste in music," Marty said, noting he's not trying to be like his dad. But he wants to share his father's music.

"I see the effect Dad had in people's lives over the last 50 or 60 years," Marty said, calling it a blessing to see people smile about his father or even cry tears of joy, as he calls them. These fans talk with him after shows.

"I do meet everybody at the show that wants to meet me," he said. He's learned that family gatherings with friends and company often involved Merle Haggard music. That personal connection remains.

"A lot of the people that come to my show right now are people that maybe lost a loved one, a mother or father or grandpa or grandma," Marty said. And a common bond with them was the elder Haggard's music. So seeing a tribute show now is like traveling down memory lane.

"It brings people back that have maybe passed on. It's a real neat reaction," Marty said.

What was it about Merle Haggard that's inspired so much longtime love from the fans?

"You know what it is, I think personally I think it's pretty simple. There's two kinds of music out there, and I don't care if it's country, blues, rock, whatever brand of music you want to name. The difference between the good and the bad is simply one is real—one's heart music, the other's head music," Marty said.

The great artists share their lives through song, he believes.

"My dad's songs are all story songs that he wrote about his life," Marty said, adding that his dad's life was no different than the lives other people lead. "In Nashville they call my dad the poet of the common man. Basically, Dad tells other people's stories through song. It's real, it's not plastic. It's about life . whatever it is, it strikes a note with people," he said.

After the show, Haggard will meet the audience and sign autographs.

(Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 advanced general admission, $30 on the day of show at the door. Tickets available at Ar-Tex Printing in New Boston or at Eventbrite.com. More info: 903-628-1378 or 903-628-0129. Music Country USA is located at 142 N. Elm St. in New Boston.)

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