Three Stages in Folsom hosts Merle Haggard

Folsom Lake Entertainer
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If the question were asked, “Who forged the genre known today as modern country music?” only a tiny group of country immortals could step forward to share the spotlight. One, out of that select handful, would be Merle Haggard, said Dave Webb, Three Stages spokesperson. “There are few people who epitomize the spirit and the reality of country music the way Merle Haggard does,” said Three Stages Executive Director Dave Pier. “We’re honored to have him on Stage One.” According to Webb, Haggard’s life path has never been easy, nor has much of it been pretty, as aired in his 1981 book, “Sing Me Back Home.” His childhood years were spent in Bakersfield, California, and the death of his father, when Merle was just 9 years old, became the catalyst that led to a squandered youth. At the same time, his love for the wandering songs of such as Jimmie Rodgers, lead to an errant passion for the gleaming, endless railroad tracks and the siren song of slow freights and hobo jungles. Incarceration for three years in San Quentin Penitentiary became the experience that finally changed his perspective and the spark that turned his head around, Webb said. He abruptly assumed the role of a model prisoner and was paroled in 1960. He was signed by Tally Records, owned by close friend Lewis Tally, and began cutting singles in a garage behind Tally’s house. His first single was “Singing My Heart Out,” which received some regional airplay on the West Coast, but it was in 1963 that he eventually broke into the top 20 of Billboard’s country charts with his first national hit, “Sing A Sad Song.” Since then the country charts have been his second home. ~Staff report * * * KNOW AND GO What: Merle Haggard and The Strangers When: 7:30 p.m., March 5-6 Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $49-$79 Info: (916) 608-6888,