By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

After 17 months of being closed, the Palace Theatre opened its doors to celebrate their first live performance at the theater with Noel and Ben Haggard playing a tribute concert to their father, country music legend, Merle Haggard.

Noel and Ben Haggard perform at the Corsicana Palace Theatre. – Photo by Guy Chapman

For over an hour and a half, the brothers played through a selection of their late father’s greatest hits, an ample selection to choose from 130 studio, live, and compilation albums. During his career, Haggard had 38 Number One singles and 71 “Top 10” hits.

Live music returns to the Palace Theatre. – Photo by Guy Chapman

The selection of music played through a variety of country sounds, from honky tonk to blues, playing such popular favorites as “Mama Tried,” “Misery and Gin,” and “Workin’ Man Blues.” Noel and Ben pay tribute in a respectful manner, while their backup accompaniment laid out a multi-layered performance that got many an audience member’s toes tapping.

Speaking of the brothers, their onstage presence is a fun act to watch. Noel tends to be the front man with his baritone voice, making jokes and chatting with the audience. Ben, a little quieter and having played with his father at just 15 years old, tended to let his singing do the talking for him. Both brother offered their own unique vocal style during the performance, and both were gracious in taking the crowds numerous musical requests.

While the show was set for an hour and a half, the brothers took a few extra requests before finishing out their performance with Merle’s 1969 hit, “Okie from Muskogee.”

Overall, the show was a pleasant way to spend a summer evening, and locally speaking, it’s great to see the Palace’s doors open again. It makes one look forward to seeing what show will come next.

The neon of the Palace Theatre glows again after 17 months. – Photo by Guy Chapman

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