Bryan & the Haggards with Dr. Eugene Chadbourne, “I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am”

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Folks connect to the music of Merle Haggard in different ways. That outlaw spirit, the Bakersfield sound, the attitudes and styles that defined Southwest country rock in the 60s, and more, gets the avant-garde-jazz treatment from Bryan & the Haggards with Dr. Eugene Chadbourne, covering “I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am”. The banjo jangles on as the added bars of brass brings new band adornments, all over their album Merles Just Want To Have Fun, available today from Northern Spy Records.

Bryan, Eugene and the gang allow their cover to open up with new horn parts and accompaniment. The upbeat progression continues to strum throughout as the jazzfused elements bring new notes with new sceneries to support the song's traveling man mode. From Bakersfield to Brooklyn, the Haggards toast the fighting side and fun spirit of Merle that celebrates individualism and adds some extra abstract big-band portions for good measure. “Pride” has always been about feeling good about yourself, wherever you are, whoever you are, and carries on a torch of confidence and self-esteem that is built for any genre or time. “I've never been nobody's idol, at least I got a title, I take a lot of pride in what I am.”

We had a few moments to talk to Bryan about his connection to Merle and his music.

Everyone has a different connection to Merle Haggard and his Strangers, what what brought you to his music? What attracted you to his sounds, styles, attitudes, etc?

About four years ago our guitarist Jon Lundbom gave me a Merle Haggard compilation CD that his friend had made and when I heard it I fell in love with the music. Also around this same time I was getting tired of the high-testosterone, touchdown-scoring, ego-driven jazz. And on top of that I come from a small town in West Virginia and I have a nostalgic connection to country living. I also love sad songs and whiskey. So put all of that together and the perfect prescription is Merle Haggard.

How did you go about weirding up Merle's weird with your Americana freak jazz freakouts?

Well the band just has a way of playing together no matter what music we play. It's just natural. So we do what we do and just happen to be playing Merle Haggard songs.

What do you feel Merle would say or think if he heard this, if he hasn't already?

I think it would appeal to his outlaw, rule-breaking self and hopefully he would dig it and want to play with us!

Merles Just Want to Have Fun is available now from Northern Spy Records.

Catch Bryan & the Haggards with Dr. Eugene Chadbourne at The Stone Residencies, October 29 through November 3 on the following dates:

29 Tuesday (KR)
8 and 10 pm
Doc Chad Solo
Eugene Chadbourne (guitars, banjo, voice)
World Premiere “From the Dreamory.”

30 Wednesday (SC)
8 and 10 pm
Music of Merle Haggard
Eugene Chadbourne (guitar, banjo, vocals) Bryan Haggard, Aaron Irwin (saxes) Jon Lundborn (guitar, banjo) Moppa Elliot (bass) Jason Tiemann (drums)
Eugene Chadbourne with Bryan and the Haggards.

31 Thursday (JA)
8 and 10 pm
The Doc Chad All Dead Jazz and Pop All Stars
Eugene Chadbourne as Jimmy Carl Black (guitar, banjo, voice) Evan Gallagher as Thelonious Monk (piano) Thomas Heberer as Muggsy Spanier (trumpet) Tatsuya Nakatani as Johnny Cash (percussion, voice) Louie Pearlman as Cab Calloway(ukulele, voice) Barry Mitterhof as Jethro Burns (mandolin) and special surprise guests

01 Friday (DDT)
8 and 10 pm
Doc Chad and Tatsuya Nakatani Duo
Eugene Chadbourne (guitar, banjo, voice) Tatsuya Nakatani (drums, voice)

02 Saturday (HM)
8 and 10 pm
Doc Chad Solo
Eugene Chadbourne (guitars, banjo, voice)
World Premiere “From the Dreamory”.

03 Sunday (SK)
8 and 10 pm
New Directions in Appalachian Music
Eugene Chadbourne (guitar, banjo, voice) Evan Gallagher (keyboards) Thomas Heberer (trumpet) Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion, voice) Leslie Ross (bassoon)