By Joseph Pratt
While the harsh winter months left the Southern Ohio Opry closed during much of their normal operating times, the Opry assures they aren’t closed for good.
Many of the venue’s supporters have expressed worry recently about the lack of performing acts due to winter cancellations, but Whisman says they are far from closing and are planning on continuing strong. They are proving this with the upcoming act by Scott Haggard. Others from the Opry will also be performing.
Haggard is the son of music legend Merle Haggard. Haggard only recently began to pursue music as a serious career and has been touring to various performances. Haggard often performs his father’s music, as well as his own original pieces.
“Encouraged by my parents, I learned to play guitar when I was eight years old,” Haggard wrote in his biography. “It came easy to me and I quickly learned every chord in the book. I have always found comfort in my guitar and find it to be a great stress reliever.”
Haggard also said that he learned many other instruments growing up, including the drums, saxophone, and along with my guitar, played in the High School Band.
Haggard spent most of his adult life working and supporting his family. In 2004, he quit his full-time career of being a truck driver and decided to pursue country music. He has kept it up since and has even been given the Horizon Award from the Mobile Alabama Country Music Association, which states, “Presented to Scott Haggard in recognition of your outstanding talent and continued hard work promoting country music.”
Local musician Linda Whisman has been a huge supporter of the Southern Ohio Opry for 10 years, through her performances, playing in the band, helping decorate the building in a collage of classical instruments and most recently in scouting for talent to perform at their concerts.
“We’ve listened to Scott’s music a lot and we are excited to have him perform. He is a lot like his father,” Whisman explained. “I’m not sure how his father started, but he was very involved with the big names like Johnny Cash. The whole family is really good.”
Whisman has been primarily focusing on what she calls the 2nd Generation Shows. These shows include performances by the children of many well-known classic bluegrass and country musicians. Whisman said she is thrilled to be bringing in Haggard and he fits into her 2nd Generation Show perfectly.
Whisman uses Facebook to connect with many of her performing acts. It was through Facebook that she connected with Haggard and was able to get him booked. The Opry has been working on getting him to make a show for the past two years.
“We’ve had his brother two years ago, Marty Haggard, and that was a real good time. We actually had to reschedule Scott when his brother was booked and could make a concert first,” Whisman said. “I wasn’t too happy about that situation, but I am very glad to be able to have him make it now.”
During the upcoming Haggard show, Whisman will also be performing. Whisman is still deciding what she will play, but her choice will include two songs with either the mandolin or guitar. Whisman says she is very skilled in guitar chords and has been playing for 56 years.
The Southern Ohio Opry has showcased the talent of performers such as Georgette Jones, Dion, Marty Haggard, Mike Twitty, Jan Howard, Becky Hobbs and Hawkshaw Hopkins. They also make an effort to showcase many local musicians as well. One outlet the Opry has for local performers is their band, which performs with every major act that comes along, with no exceptions.
The Southern Ohio Opry Band includes the talent of many local performers, including the drummer from Loretta Lynn’s band, the Coalminers and Joe Adams, who was with Johnny Paycheck and George Jones.
“I think we are one of the best shows around. We’ve got a really good band of professional musicians, I mean, people who have been doing this for years with big names,” Whisman said.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.