Merle Haggard Tribute

With Rudy Parris and Norm Hamlet

A Tribute to Merle Haggard

with Rudy Parris and Norm Hamlet

Admission: $25

Discount: $20 online in advance

The Lindsay Community Theater will celebrate one of country music’s most influential artists, Merle Haggard, on Oct 7 with a Tribute to Merle Haggard featuring Rudy Parris.

Haggard was born in Oildale, California, toward the end of the Great Depression. His childhood was troubled after the death of his father, and he was incarcerated several times in his youth. After being released from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, he managed to turn his life around and launched a successful country music career. He gained popularity with his songs about the working class; these occasionally contained themes contrary to the anti–Vietnam War sentiment of some popular music of the time. Between the 1960s and the 1980s he had 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, several of which also made the Billboard all-genre singles chart. Haggard continued to release successful albums into the 2000s.

As an adult, Parris played at music venues across Tulare County and warmed up Central Valley crowds for top performers such as his hero Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr., B.B. King and Bo Diddley.

Jim Shaw of the Buckaroos, who books acts at the Crystal Palace says he remembers when he had booked Jerry Lee Lewis with Parris as the opening act but unfortunately Lewis stormed out over a contract dispute hours before the show. He then asked Rudy to go break the news to the audience and Rudy did so and then launched into a memorable energetic set. “After [the show] we had audience members saying, ‘Who needs Lewis?’ ” Shaw said. “He was that good.”

He eventually found himself touring as lead guitarist in The Damn Band backing Hank Williams III in 2003 and then having been so influenced by the Bakersfield sound, Parris was honored to play a longstanding residency alongside country singer/songwriter/guitarist Buck Owens at his Crystal Palace until his death in 2006.

The Voice

Parris is most well-known for his appearances on Season 3 of NBC's The Voice. Only two spots remained by the time Rudy Parris took the stage during the blind auditions. He did a country-tinged version of “Every Breath You Take,” and both coaches still needing team members — Cee Lo and Blake — turned around. Said Blake: “You damn sure don’t look country at all, but country’s still in there. I don’t know what you’re going to do about that, other than pick me as your coach.” Which is precisely what Rudy did, “because my roots are so deep in country music.” That performance was released as a single and went to number 13 on the Rock charts and was followed by his performance of Daniel Powter's Bad Day. He was eliminated by Shelton on 10-30-2012.

After The Voice

Soon after The Voice, Rudy was invited to perform at the acclaimed annual Jason Becker Not Dead Yet Concert in 2013, where he sang and played with the likes of Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions), Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs), Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big), and Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne).

Parris then signed a record deal with Warrior Records to record his first album after The Voice. Carrying the torch for the Bakersfield sound is important to Rudy, which is why he chose to record his album, “Makin' My Way,” at Hollywood’s famed Capitol Records in “Studio B,” the same room where both Owens and Haggard recorded their many hits. To bring his vision to life, Parris assembled an impressive team of collaborators on “Makin’ My Way” that includes guitarist Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens), veteran country session player Wanda Vick (Wild Rose, “The Ralph Emery Show”), steel guitarist “Cowboy” Eddie Long (Hank Williams Jr.), Nashville vocal icon Wes Hightower, Pat Vegas (Redbone), Tejano musician Little Joe, and country/metal rebel Hank Williams III, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) four time Grammy winner Little Joe (Little Joe Y La Familia) and famed actor Michael Madsen.

In 2017 he was asked to perform for the induction of Merle Haggard to the Bakersfield Country Music Hall of Fame. Parris cites Owens, Merle Haggard, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughn as his greatest influences.

In January 2019 Rudy was asked to front the world famous Buckaroos. CMT has named them number 2 in the greatest country bands of all time.