Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Ray Price | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Ray Price

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If you haven't paid attention to the many, many records put out by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and (to a lesser extent) Ray Price over the past decade, this show might seem like one of those propped-up oldies extravaganzas you get at Star Plaza, where nostalgic fans gather to watch a group long past its prime dutifully revive its back catalog. These three stars might be playing to the old-timers with their new collaboration, Last of the Breed (Lost Highway), but it's terrific listening to them rip through the country songbook all the same. Backed by a crack band of contemporary studio hotshots and guys back from the dead--Buddy Emmons, the Jordanaires, Boots Randolph--the singers work up classics by the likes of Lefty Frizzell, Floyd Tillman, and Harlan Howard and even drop in a few songs of their own. It's a record full of warhorses, but Haggard, Nelson, and Price still manage to find new wrinkles. For this tour they'll be backed by Asleep at the Wheel, the veteran western-swing group led by Ray Benson. a 7:30 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont, 847-671-5100 or 312-559-1212, $39.50-$75. A

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