Merles Just Wanna Have Fun is a ridiculous spirited, lovingly raucous tribute to one of country’s greats, Merle Haggard. As with Willie Nelson, there’s a bit of jazzy sensibility to Haggard’s music. The tunes aren’t mere three-chord rockers, giving a sextet of exceptional musicians like Bryan and the Haggards featuring Dr. Eugene Chadbourne plenty to work with. And as with Nelson (Poncho to his Lefty, or the other way around), Haggard’s songs are full of character, or rebels and patriots and world-weary travelers.
“This was what I was trying to do in 1980, get a jazz band to play country and western and get a record label to pay to record it and put it out. The closest I could get to that was Shockabilly and obviously that was a sidetrack. So listening to this is really gratifying! Let’s see if anybody else likes it!” - Dr. Eugene Chadbourne
“Saxophonist Bryan Murray’s wonderful quintet cast an outside-jazz eye on Bakersfield country legend Merle Haggard, and their bodacious results do justice to both camps. The Hag’s heartbreaking melodies become fodder for genre-slipping arrangements that take the long way home…The band is recording with Chadbourne, who splays country, rock, and bluegrass with feckless hyperactive humor.” - Richard Gehr, Village Voice
Eugene Chadbourne – vocals, banjo, dobro
Bryan Murray – tenor, soprano, balto! saxophones, talzmer¡, nose whistle, recorder, ocarina, vocals.
Jon Irabagon – C melody, soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, penny whistle
Jon Lundbom – guitar, banjo, vocals
Moppa Elliott – bass, vocals
Danny Fischer – drums, vocals
Recorded at Seizures Palace on July 4, 2012
Produced by Kurt Gottschalk
Engineered by Jason LaFarge
Mastered by James Plotkin
Artwork by Emma Ball, vectornectar.com