Merle Haggard-Inspired, Cincinnati Music-Heavy Hagfest Returns Bigger Than Ever

Set for Saturday at The Southgate House Revival, Hagfest 2019 will feature Bill Kirchen with Redd Volkaert, a former member of Haggard’s band, King Records star Otis Williams playing songs from his 'Midnight Cowboys' album and numerous local acts

click to enlarge Merle Haggard - PHOTO: MYRIAM SANTOS
Photo: Myriam Santos
Merle Haggard

Now in its third year, Hagfest a celebration of the music and spirit of late, great American music icon Merle Haggard continues to grow, showcasing 19 touring artists and local acts from the worlds of Country, Honky Tonk, Bluegrass and other forms of American Roots music. This year's Hagfest is set for this Saturday (April 6) at Newport's Southgate House Revival

In the wake of Haggard’s 2016 death, the event was created by Greater Cincinnati musician Joe Macheret, fiddle player in popular Folk band The Tillers and leader of his own Country Blues group, Joe’s Truck Stop, to honor the singer/songwriter/guitarist/fiddler’s legacy, as well as the artists who paved the way for him and his contemporaries. 

"Although the bands and performers will most likely play their favorite Hag hit or deep cut, we want to celebrate the originality of the great songwriters on this lineup," the description of the event says on Facebook. "Just the same way Merle Haggard was celebrated for writing so many of his own songs and paving a path for original songwriters inspired by Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Country and Dixie Blues, Bluegrass, Jazz, Old Time and so on…"

Hagfest’s 2019 event sees the return of Texas guitar hero Bill Kirchen, also known as “The Titan of the Telecaster,” who will be joining Redd Volkaert, a former member of Haggard’s band The Strangers, for a special set.

Another highlight of this year’s stacked lineup is the appearance of King Records legend Otis Williams; the Cincinnati native and R&B/Doo Wop icon will perform music from his groundbreaking 1971 Country album, Otis Williams and the Midnight Cowboys, which featured several Nashville studio aces, including Elvis Presley sidemen Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana.


Other locals performing at this year’s Hagfest include Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Adam Lee, Billie Gant, Chelsea Ford and The Trouble, Slippery Creek and Robert Lowell.

See the full lineup and schedule below. Visit the Facebook event page for the latest updates.

Proceeds from the concert go to the Appalachian Prison Book Project, which gives free books to incarcerated people in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland.

Tickets are $20 in advance here or $25 at the door (if any remain). The show begins at 6 p.m.


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