When Merle Haggard (1937-2016) announced a date in Kingston I knew I had to be there. It’s not that I’m the biggest fan; like everyone I know the hits, but the man is (was) a legend, and when a legend goes on tour I buy a ticket.
Kingston is a cool little city. The K Rock Centre is smack dab in the middle of downtown at 1 The Tragically Hip Way. Gotta love a city that loves its hometown rockers that much. And respects them too. Before Merle Haggard took the stage I found myself in beer line right behind The Hip’s Bobby Baker, dressed every bit like the rock star he is, his long hair mixing with the leather tassels on his decidedly conspicuous jacket. And not a soul was bothering him; he was free to enjoy his privacy just as much as the next guy (which in this case was me), in a building full of music fans on a street named after his band where everybody, and I mean everybody knew who he was. Cool.
On May 8th, 2013 Merle Haggard took the stage in Kingston and was a class act from start to finish and so was the crowd, energetically singing along at all the right spots. A couple of Haggard’s kids played in his band and they were no slouches either; there was some tasty twangy guitar playing coming from the stage and it was a great concert.
And then just a few weeks shy of three years later Merle Haggard’s show came to its final end, and on his birthday no less. You never know.
And that’s one of the reasons why I buy so many damn concert tickets.