Dozens of Classic Country Musicians gathered at the Golden Chain Theatre April 23 to give tribute to the late-great Merle Haggard.
Event coordinator and local businessman/musician Rick Slayton helped organize the event.
“I was honored to bring all these outstanding musicians and bands together at the historic Golden Chain Theatre to give them an opportunity to entertain, as well as honor and give tribute to Merle Haggard,” Slayton said. “I grew up listening to Merle Haggard songs and know his music will live on for generations to come.”
All proceeds from Saturday’s Country and Rock Music Festival benefited the Golden Chain Theatre.
The Shaw Family Band of Oakhurst opened the show.
“I was so impressed with them when I recently saw them perform at the Sierra Vista Church, I asked them to open the show,” Slayton said. “Their grace and love for music and the word of God is an incredible inspiration and always moves me to tears as I watch and listen to them perform.”
The nine children of Yosemite High School math teacher Kevin and Wendy Shaw performed gospel songs. Kevin and Wendy, along with two-year-old son Joshua, watched as son Daniel (4-years-old) Peter (6), Lilly (9), Amy (11), Elley (13), Justus (15), Macy (18), Holly (20), and Chase (22), performed.
Rene Emilio performed after the Shaw Family Band, singing classics like “New York, New York,” Spanish ballads, and an original country song titled, “Baby I will Miss You Til Then.”
Brandon Johansen of KERO TV Channel 23 from Bakersfield interviewed Oakhurst songwriter and lead guitar player Cubbie Slayton and fellow musician, singer and steel guitar player Obie Noonkester in front of the Golden Chain Theatre about the recent death of Merle Haggard.
Cubbie and Obie took the stage with fellow country musicians Paul Dobbs, Chuck James, Mickey Finn and Ed Shelton, and performed many classic country songs, including many Merle Haggard tunes. Merle was affectionately referred to as the “Hagg,” by friends and musicians that knew him personally.
“Every thing we play is in tribute to Merle Haggard, whether it is one of his songs or not, because (Merle) was country music,” Cubbie Slayton said. “Merle will always be number one in my book.”
“This is Merle’s Country - it was a great loss when we lost that man,” Noonkester added. “He was the man. A lot of musicians do his songs because he has the best country songs, and was the best. ”
Cubbie took the stage and was joined by Noonkester, Don Knight, Shirley Custer, Steve (last name), Phil Hanna, Patrick Contreras and son Rick Slayton, playing Haggard songs and other country classics, including “Green Onions.”
Oakhurst band Rock Therapy played classic rock songs featuring hits from Journey, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Nora Jones, and many more. The band has performed locally for several years and consists of lead vocalist Jolinda Thomas, Bill Samuelson (lead guitar/vocal), Michael Davis (rhythm guitar), Annette Marie (vocal and keyboards), Don Telian (drums), and Steve Quintana (bass guitar).
The Bryan Vickers Band closed out the evening of entertainment as Bryan and fellow musicians Que Andrade on drums and brother Quetzal Andrade on bass guitar and keyboard played a mix of classic rock, classic country and original songs.
Sponsors of the event included Don DeBernardi of Sierra Asset Management, Colette Goga of Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply, Sue Graham of Oakhurst Giftworks, Tony & Lori McLean of Oakhurst Physical Therapy, Jeff & Dianna Conaway of Western Sierra Nursery, Pines Resort, and Jeff and Pam Latham of Pizza Factory.