“I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”, “It’s All Going to Pot”, “Life’s Stairway to Heaven”, “Okie from Muskogee”, “Ramblin’ Fever”, “Silver Wings”, “Sing Me Back Home”, “Today I Started Loving You Today”, Caryl Chessman, death row inmate, Dennis Hobbs, Fun and Friends Center, J.W. Brewer, Mariann Hyslop, Marvin Wright, Merle Haggard, outlaw singer, Phyllis Simpson, Randy Johnson, Repertory Theater of the Ozarks, review, RTO, San Quintin, Thayer MO, the Hag, Vera Martin
Randy Johnson kicked the show off with Merle’s “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” and moved right on into “Today I Started Loving You Again,” probably for one of Merle’s several wives He was married to his fifth wife when he died. Johnson also hit on Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever.” Johnson told us he has been a lifelong Haggard fan and said he shed a tear the day the Hag died.
The show gave the audience a range of Haggard’s songs performed by stars from Repertory Theatre of the Ozarks (RTO) from the most recent “It’s All Going to Pot,” performed by J.W. Brewer, to one of his early songs “Sing Me Back Home” sung for us by Appalachian style singer Phyllis Simpson. The story goes that Merle wrote this for San Quentin death row inmate Caryl Chessman.
The entire RTO cast — including Brewer, Simpson, Dennis Hobbs, Mariann Hyslop and Vera Martin — took part in “Okie From Muskogee” and sang the finale “Silver Wings” “Silver Wings” was performed at his memorial service.
A guest singer, Marvin Wright, closed the show for Haggard with a heartfelt gospel “Life’s Stairway to Heaven.
— Caroll Lucas
(Watch for links to videos — to come)