SOLD OUT! Kris Kristofferson & Ben Haggard with The Strangers

Wed May 16 2018

8:00 PM (Doors 7:00 PM)

The Basement East

917 Woodland St Nashville, TN 37206

$43 ADV / $45 DOS

Ages 21+

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This show is general admission, standing room only.

SOLD OUT! Kris Kristofferson & Ben Haggard with The Strangers

  • SOLD OUT! All tickets to this concert have been sold. No additional tickets will be made available by the venue, artist, or promoter at any time.
  • Kris Kristofferson

    Kris Kristofferson


    Kris Kristofferson has been making things happen his entire life. Born in Texas and raised in a military family, he was a Golden Gloves boxer who studied creative writing at Pomona College in California. The Phi Beta Kappa graduate earned a Rhodes scholarship to study literature at Oxford, where he boxed, played rugby and continued to write songs. After graduating from Oxford, Kristofferson served in the army as an Airborne Ranger helicopter pilot and achieved the rank of Captain. In 1965, Kristofferson turned down an assignment to teach at West Point and, inspired by songwriters like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, moved to Nashville to pursue his music.

    “When I was in the army, I was one of the few people outside of his personal friends who knew about Willie Nelson,” Kristofferson recalls. “I listened to a disc jockey who happened to be a Willie fan. He would play Willie’s songs and talk about him all the time. By the time I got to Nashville, he was a superhero to me. For guys like me, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were two gods we worshipped. Then Willie and I got to be best friends. I came from a position of idolizing him to finding out he’s the funniest son of a bitch you could be around.”

    After struggling in Music City for several years, Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and “For the Good Times,” all chart-topping hits, helped redefine country songwriting. By 1987, it was estimated that more than 450 artists had recorded Kristofferson’s compositions.

    His renown as a songwriter triggered Kristofferson’s successful career as a performer and that, in turn, brought him to the attention of Hollywood, leading to his flourishing career as a film actor. Kristofferson has acted in more than 70 films.  In 1977 He won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in “A Star Is Born.”  He’s appeared in cult favorites including the “Blade” trilogy, “Lone Star,” “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries,” “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “Blume In Love,” “Cisco Pike,” and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.” Recent films include “Fast Food Nation,”  “Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story,” “The Jacket,” “Silver City,” “He’s Just Not That In To You,” and “Dolphin Tale.”

    Heralded as an artist’s artist, the three-time GRAMMY winner has recorded 29 albums, including three with pals Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen. Kristofferson has spent three decades performing concerts all over the world, in most recent years in a solo acoustic setting, which puts the focus on the songs. “There’s an honesty in the sparseness.  It feels like direct communication to the listener,” he says.  “I still have more fun when I’m with the band, but being alone is freer, somehow.  It’s like being an old blues guy, just completely stripped away.”

    Many would have hung their hat by now. Instead, Kristofferson barely has paused for breath. He’s released several recent high watermarks including the increasingly intimate A Moment of Forever (1995), The Austin Sessions (1999) and This Old Road (2006), and he produced some of his finest work with the deeply personal Closer to the Bone (2009) and Feeling Mortal (2013). Kristofferson has reached living legend status, but that hasn’t changed or hindered his creativity. His current CD, The Cedar Creek Sessions, was recorded live at Austin’s Cedar Creek Recording Studio in June 2014. Released in time for Kristofferson’s 80th birthday in 2016, the double-CD set is a snapshot of the legendary songwriter in the twilight of his life.

    In addition to many other awards, Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, winner of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriter Hall of Fame, and was honored with the American Veteran’s Association’s “Veteran of the Year Award” in 2002. For Kristofferson’s 70th birthday in 2006, his friends and admirers gifted him with a tribute CD, The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson. Stars including Willie Nelson, Russell Crowe, Emmylou Harris, Gretchen Wilson, Rosanne Cash, and Brian McKnight recorded 17 of Kristofferson’s compositions for the tribute. In 2007, Kristofferson was honored with the Johnny Cash Visionary Award from Country Music Television and in 2009 BMI lauded Kristofferson with the Icon Award.  He received the Frances Preston Music Industry Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation in March, 2012. In 2014, Kristofferson was honored with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.

  • Ben Haggard

    Ben Haggard

    Alternative Country

    For fans of his late, legendary father, country music great Merle Haggard, his youngest son Ben is no Stranger – in fact, he’s been the lead guitarist in Hag’s longtime band of the same name for the past eight years, since he was 15 years old, fitting in easily with veterans like musical director Norm Hamlet and Scott Joss.

    Ben was a regular on Merle Haggard’s recordings, took the stage with him and the Highwaymen (Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson) as well as Blake Shelton for a memorable performance at the 2014 Grammys and for the 2012 “All for the Hall” show besides two of his idols, Vince Gill and Keith Urban. Earlier this year, Ben was featured with the Strangers backing Toby Keith for a Merle tribute on the nationally televised American Country Countdown Awards. He also contributed versions of “Mama Tried” and “Sing Me Back Home” to 2014’sWorking Man’s Poet:Tribute to Merle Haggard album which also featured Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley.

    Since Merle’s death on April 6, 2016 – which was also his 79th birthday (a fact he had eerily predicted)– Ben Haggard hasn’t missed a beat, passing on the legacy of his dad’s music with brother Noel and the Strangers, joined on several dates by longtime friend Kris Kristofferson, opening for another frequent Hag partner, Willie Nelson. 

    Taking the torch from the Haggard paterfamilias, Haggard recalls a conversation he had with Merle, who sported what his son described as “a look of great depth in his eyes… He was always right about something he said because he had thought about it for so long.  He overanalyzed everything to the finest degree in the most artistic way possible.”

    Ben recalls Merle telling him, “You’d be an idiot not to take my guitar and my bus, not to sing my songs for as long as you can… Go out there and play until there’s nobody to play to.”

    And that is precisely what Ben Haggard has done over these past months and will continue to do in the near-future, effectively putting his own promising musical career on the back burner for the time being – even as he plans to relocate to Nashville to pursue his own artistic identity when he’s ready.

    For anyone who’s heard young Haggard play guitar with his father, that talent is undeniable, but he’s only recently discovered a singing voice that, while borrowing genetically from dad’s well-worn gravitas, adds its own fresh take on songs like “Sing Me Back Home” (a performance of which is featured on Ben’s Facebook page), “Heaven Was a Drink Of Wine,” “Workin’ Man Blues” and “What Am I Gonna Do With the Rest of My Life?,” all of them taking on new meanings in the wake of Hag’s passing.

    “I watched him sing on-stage, absorbed the little things he was doing, the tricks with his voice, how he handled the crowd,” says Ben, who obviously learned his lessons well. “It was like going back to school. Things I didn’t realize I picked up from the eight years I spent on the road with him started to come into play.  My fear of the mic kind of slipped away.  Things just unfolded in a beautiful way.  I’m now starting to feel comfortable singing for people.”

    Indeed, Ben Haggard has proven as natural a performer as you’d expect from someone with his DNA.  “I’ve always suffered from stage fright. I only sang in front of my father a couple of times, once live and once in the studio. All of a sudden, he’s telling me I’ve got to sing for everybody.  I had to grow a pair of balls, get out there and do it.”

    His next challenge is to carve out his own musical career, lest he be accused, as he says in his own self-effacing way, “of riding someone else’s coattails.”

    Ben describes an incident that took place when he was four years old, and just realizing his father was “somebody special.”

    “I asked him, ‘Since you’re famous, does that make me famous too?’ And he said, ‘Son, you’ve got to create your own thunder.’ That’s always stuck with me.  I look back at that moment as if it were a movie. It’s something I never forget.”

    When asked what his own musical personality might be, Ben admits, like his father, he feels like a bit of an outsider when it comes to contemporary country music.

    “I couldn’t really go out there and sing about drinking a beer on a tailgate under the moonlight,” he laughs. “I want to sing about things I value within my heart. Honesty is always pushing against the grain, in a way. My dad always said it’s easier to force-feed people something they don’t want than actually giving them what they do.”

    Ben admits, “I’ve started to write and finish songs lately.  I used to start writing and then never finish, but now, there’s more material to draw from. I’m not writing about being 15 anymore; there are a lot of things I’ve gone through and had to overcome.  I turned that talk I had with my dad about taking over for him into a song.  When I record it, I think it’s something that will resonate with people. It’s about as real as you can get in regard to what he was telling me.”

    He also admits feeling a creative kinship with Americana artists like Sturgill Simpson, whose Metamodern Sounds in Country Music album proved a throwback to the music his father made. The two have struck up a friendship, with Simpson agreeing to produce Ben’s albumwhen he’s ready to record.

    For now, Ben’s content with burnishing his father’s legacy, playing his songs and pleasing Merle’s many fans, doing his part as the good son.

    “When I’m compared to him, I realize it’s to someone far greater, but it gives me hope and the drive to emerge from his shadow, and hopefully, one day, to stand just as tall,” Ben says humbly. “Merle shot for the moon, and there’s no reason I can’t aim for it, too.”

    Back on-stage, Ben leans into one of his father’s signature songs, “Footlights,” about his own career, and, while fudging his age, the sentiment seems to ring true from one generation to the next.

    “But I'm 41 years old and I ain't got no place to go/When it's over/So I hide my age and make the stage and/Try to kick the footlights out again.”

    For Ben Haggard, this is just the beginning of his artistic journey, and he still has plenty of places to go, but he looks well-prepared to kick out the footlights in his own right.

SOLD OUT! Kris Kristofferson & Ben Haggard with The Strangers

Wed May 16 2018 8:00 PM

(Doors 7:00 PM)

The Basement East Nashville TN
SOLD OUT! Kris Kristofferson & Ben Haggard with The Strangers
  • SOLD OUT! All tickets to this concert have been sold. No additional tickets will be made available by the venue, artist, or promoter at any time.

$43 ADV / $45 DOS Ages 21+

This show is general admission, standing room only.