I’d like to write a little about a couple of idiots who came to the show. But first, some interesting stuff from the opening portion of the night.
The Malpass Brothers are a couple of young’uns from Goldboro, N.C., who look like they’re barely out of high school. Yet they’ve apparently ignored the past 40 years of music and fashion, opting instead to represent the Grand Ol Opry, Ryman Auditorium, circa 1956.
In their black western clothes and with post-greaser hair piled high, the brothers sang songs by Faron Young, Hank Williams and their new boss, Haggard. (The Malpass Brothers are on Haggard’s Hag Record label.) Both had strong baritones — Taylor “Bug” Malpass’ voice was steely, and Christopher Malpass’ was mellower.
Christopher Malpass had the lion’s share of lead work on the brothers’ four-song set. Audience members screamed when he slipped up into a falsetto on Haggard’s “I Can’t Be Myself When I’m With You.” They sang spot-on harmonies, just like honky-tonk throwback siblings should. Keep an eye out for those boys.
While Haggard’s youngest son, Benny, was on stage all night, playing good guitar leads, another Hag child, Noel Haggard, took the stage, too. He also elicited screams and hoots of recognition while covering the Conway Twitty hit, “I’m Tired of Being Something (That Means Nothing To You), a tune that featured one of his younger half-brothers best solos.
Strangely enough, Noel Haggard doesn’t sound much like his father. Instead, he sounds a good bit like Randy Travis.
While young Benny was good, he’s still a work in progress on guitar. At times, particularly early in the night, he seemed to stumble, but as he warmed up, he got better, his tone warmer.
The best guitarist on stage was Joe Manuel, who did a couple of tunes right before the headliner came on. Manuel can flat smoke a Telecaster, but he’s a professional
And finally, a couple of quick notes to a couple of apparent jackassess.
First, to the woman who insisted on standing in front of the stage at least twice to have her photo taken in front of Haggard as he performed “Sing Me Back Home”: You SUCK! Don’t disrespect the Hag! Sit down and listen!
I couldn’t see behind Haggard’s dark shades, but I’m pretty sure he was making a gas face at the woman as she mugged for the flashing camera, her back to Haggard.
And here’s a note to the guy who repeatedly screamed at the top of his lungs, requesting “Makeup and Faded Blue Jeans”: You SUCK, man! Do you think the Hag is stupid? Do you think he couldn’t hear you the first five or six times you yelled from only about 10 rows back? Shut up, man!