By Emilie Hornack: CNJ Correspondent
Roswell will reach for the stars with a few country music mainstays and industry newcomers taking to the stage Saturday for the Second Annual Merle Haggard UFO Music Fest.
The music festival is part of the city’s annual UFO festival, which runs today through Sunday.
This festival-style event is hosted by country music legend Merle Haggard, who will be joined by Willie Nelson, Lacy J. Dalton and newcomer Michael D.
Like Haggard’s most recent effort, Haggard Like Never Before, Saturday’s concert will be on his terms. It will be filled with a wide range of country classics and new, edgier sounds.
Kicking off the show is the winner of Haggard’s WSM Merle’s Music Search contest, Michael D.
This newcomer from Indiana is already getting noticed by industry insiders for his less-than-traditional sounds.
Michael D. goes on at 7 p.m. on the Midway at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair Grounds.
Following up Michael D., Lacy J. Dalton takes the stage at 8 p.m.
One of country’s most distinguishable voices, Dalton delivers soulful sounds full of grit, texture and above all else meaning.
Don’t plan on watching a straight 10-song set with this artist. Instead, prepare to delve into Dalton’s heart as she brings each tune to life.
Dalton has delivered 15 albums since 1980, each full of lyrics emanating real-life experience. Among her top hit singles are “Crazy Blue Eyes,” Takin’ It Easy,” “Dream Baby,” and “Black Coffee.” Dalton’s biggest hit, “16th Avenue,” was recently billed at one of Billboard’s top 100 country hits of all time.
Dalton is a regular at festival-style events. She frequently performs at county fairs, special Fraternal Order of Police and firefighter benefit shows, as well as rodeos and clubs.
Next up will be Haggard, a country music staple with 39 No. 1 country hits spanning four decades.
Haggard is arguably country music’s greatest living recording artist.
The 2000 release of Haggard’s “If I Could Fly” brought the star back onto the country music scene, attracting the most diverse group of fans of his long career. This introspective songwriter takes on current events, relationships and silly situations through his newest lyrics.
But with all of those new fans, Haggard also has the chance to pull some of his classics from the vault and pass them on to the next generation of country music enthusiasts.
Some of Haggard’s most recognized tunes over the decades include “Okie from Muskogee,” “Tulare Dust,” “Hungry Eyes,” and “Workin’ Man Blues.”
Finishing off this string of country music stars, Willie Nelson will begin his eclectic show.
Best known for several country hits, Nelson has also put his mark on the American music landscape by recording standards, gospel, and most recently blues music.
Raised on a cotton farm in Central Texas, Nelson uses his life experiences to create soulful sounds with a blues flavor unlike any other artist.
His most recent album, “Milk Cow Blues,” returns to his lifetime appreciation of the gospel his grandparents raised him on, the blues and Mexican corridas that eased the laborious work in the cotton fields, and the country music that filled the airwaves in his small town.
Nelson personally selected a list of tunes that related directly to his upbringing. Among the songs are “The Thrill is Gone,” “Kansas City,” “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Wake Me When It’s Over.”
Tickets for the event are now on sale for $25 if purchased at ticket outlets in Roswell by Friday. Tickets purchased on Saturday will be available only at the fairgrounds for $30.
Folks are welcome to bring their own chairs or blankets for the event since there is no permanent seating available for the festival-style concert.
Information for this story was obtained at: www.ufomusicfest.com