ELKHART — His familiar growl coupled with the twang of the steel guitar let those at the Lerner Theatre know Merle Haggard was indeed in town.
Haggard and his band, the Strangers, were on the Lerner stage Sunday night in front of a solid and enthusiastic crowd.
Though Haggard took the stage with the Strangers, the band’s name clearly did not describe his relationship to the members.
Haggard’s son and daughter, Noel Lee Haggard and Dana Haggard, kicked off the evening as surprise openers. They each played three songs that warmed the crowd up for their father. Another son, Benny, played guitar in the band.
After the opening and a 15 minute intermission, Haggard, clad entirely in black and even sporting sunglasses, finally made his entrance to a standing ovation.
He instantly launched in to such cheer-inducing favorites like “Ramblin’ Fever,” “Silver Wings” and “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” Periodically, the lights came up and some audience members with them, as the assembly joined in to sing along.
The show made for another successful evening at the theater, to the delight of Dan Smith, general manager of the Lerner. “We haven’t done anything yet we’re not happy with,” Smith said.
Despite having to compete with the Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival, and only a week removed from the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, Smith believed over 1,000 were in attendance for Sunday night’s show.
“The box office blew up about an hour before the show,” he noted.
More information was released about the upcoming Loretta Lynn show, as well.
The country music legend will come to the Lerner Theatre for her first Elkhart show on Nov. 18. The show begins at 7 p.m.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 14 at the Lerner Theatre Box Office. Prices will be $67, $57 and $47 and a limited number of VIP tickets will be offered for $100.
Tickets will be available at www.thelerner.com or by phone at 293-4469.