The Times West Virginian

July 26, 2012

Haggard to be highlight of Sagebrush

By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian

BUNNER RIDGE — Like father, like son.

But not in Scott Haggard’s case. Although his father, Merle, was an iconic country music legend, and he seems to be following in his footsteps, Scott wants to be unique. Having just released his debut album in May, he is not looking to mimic his father in any way.

His style is solely his own, he said.

“It’s something I developed on my own,” he said. “I have my own sound. Everybody can’t sound like Merle Haggard. I had a lot of help from the right people, but I developed my own style. I don’t do stuff like he does, but it’s still traditional country.”

Currently on the road with his band “Lonesome Fugitive,” Scott will soon be presenting this unique style locally. Prior to his music career, he was a truck driver who had been fortunate enough to travel all over the country, but never has he had the opportunity to visit the local area.

Now he feels fortunate to be performing at the Sagebrush Round-Up on Saturday, Aug. 4 for the first time.

“I am glad,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”

And for Country Music Association President Bill Janoske, it’s especially exciting. When he was in Nashville, Tenn., and heard Scott’s music, he knew he had to invite him to Sagebrush.

Ticket prices for Sagebrush Round-Up are usually $5, but this time, with Scott’s confirmation to perform, admission will be $15 at the door. Also taking the stage will be Maria Rose.

“It’s a special show with Scott,” Janoske said.

Inspiration cultivated for Scott, as he listened to his father’s music over the years. As a teenager, he sang and played the guitar. Over the years that expanded to several other instruments, including the drums and the saxophone. Pursuing a music career was his goal, but with the decline of the economy, he had to hang up his dreams and find a way to support his family.

Then, in 2006, he found his way back to his dreams. Returning to his music, he quickly found himself in the spotlight. Within two years, Scott won the Horizon Award from the Mobile Alabama Country Music Association for his talent as well as his continued hard work in promoting country music.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I wasn’t always a country singer. I’ve had to work at it a lot. I haven’t really had any help from anyone else. I’m pretty much self-taught.”

From this recognition, he garnered a lot of support in the form of show dates and guest appearances, performing with big names such as Mark Wills, Jeff Bates and Charlie McCoy. Venues like Robert’s Western World, Music City Bar and Grill, and the Nashville Palace in Nashville, Tenn., were also open to his music.

In spite of learning and mastering his voice from his father’s music, he still managed to forge a name for himself that is his alone. On his debut album, he had even written a song titled “Living in the Shadow of Merle.”

“How I learned to sing is listening to him and singing his songs,” Scott said.

Songs like “Blues Stay Away From Me” have that traditional sound that separates Scott from the country music radio stations, but that’s just one of many highlights he promises on his album, including a special song written by George Allison for his album.

“It’s not like an album you go buy at the store and just got one good song on it that you like. It’s got several good songs on it.”

One day he has high hopes to play at the Grand Ole Opry and tour nationwide. Shows have been booked as far as Texas and California, far from his new home in Michigan, where he moved with his wife earlier this year to focus on his music with manager Scott Wikle.

But in the meantime, he is focusing on every one of his spots on his tour and enjoying the opportunities that continue to fall in his lap. At his upcoming show, Scott will be performing some of his father’s music as well as some of his own. Not like today’s country music you hear on the radio, he will have more of a traditional country music show in store for his audience.

“I just can’t wait to be there and hope we put on a good show for everybody,” he said. “I hope we have a good turnout.”

Doors will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m., and the show will start at 5 p.m.

Email Nicole Lemal at nlemal@timeswv.com.