Profound sadness. Our Muse passed away today on his Birthday. Our sincere condolences to his entire family. There will be a hole left in the heart of millions of people, filled only by his everlasting music. We have always felt deeply honored to play Merle’s music, and will continue to do so with all our hearts, even if each song now feels a little more bittersweet. We were so fortunate to get to see him play, the last couple of times he was up our way. Those shows will remain a highlight in each of our lives and a memory to cherish evermore. Rest in Peace, Mr. Haggard, we love you.

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Hello to All and a Happy 2016!

We are so looking forward to seeing you all again very soon! We have some terrific shows in the works, two incredibly talented new players in our line-up, and of course … new Merle songs in our set lists! We will be announcing shows a little later in the spring, but for now we CAN tell you that we will be seeing you at the Portland Rose Festival on June 9th, the amazing Dolly Parton Hoot Night, benefiting Siren Nation on June 25th and we’ll be hot-footin’ it all the way to Santa Cruz for SausageFest (!!!) on September 25th. We’ll be kicking everything off with a show at our home tavern, Sloan’s, on June 3rd.

More dates and surprises coming soon!

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Last week Gerle Haggard Band kicked off what is looking like a very busy summer! We played The Kennedy School as well as the 1-year anniversary party for Healthy Pets Northwest‘s Woodstock store. Both were a tremendous amount of fun and we were so appreciative of everyone who joined us!

CoastFlyerCombo-page-0This weekend we make our debut in Astoria at The Voodoo Lounge on Friday night. We just learned that this weekend also happens to be when Goonies fans far and wide will descend on that coastal town to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the cult film, so we look forward to seeing what kind of shenanigans that inspires. On Saturday night we head up the coast to lovely Seaview, Washington, returning to The Sou’wester Lodge for a cozy show in their cozy living room. The Sou’wester hosted one of our very first performances two years ago — back when we were a four-piece (!!!) and barely had an hour’s worth of songs to play. This time around, we bring our gang of eight and will be trotting out two hours worth of fine Merle Haggard music.

From there, the shows continue all the way through July and beyond. As you can see to the right of your screen, we’ll be playing all over Portland, at some of the sweetest music venues in town. Biddy McGraw’s, The Deer Lodge, Salvage Works and the Alberta Street Pub (opening for the fabulous Emily Herring!). We’re also performing at a benefit for Sound Equine Options Horse Rescue in Salem and are throwing in a private birthday party as well. So, we’re happily busy and so looking forward to sharing Merle’s wonderful music with all of you!

Leanne and Tasha

Leanne Dunn (l) and Tasha Christensen

We also want to mention a couple of things. First off, our founder, Maria Callahan, will be off playing shows with The Carrie Cunningham Band this summer and will be absent for many of our performances, though she may step in from time to time. Her temporary departure required us to find a replacement guitarist, and boy did we luck out when we found TWO of the most talented women to join our band of Gerles!

Handling the lead guitar work, we are so fortunate to have Leanne Dunn grace us with her talent. A recent transplant from Florida, Leanne started playing guitar at age 9 and was billed as a blues guitar prodigy at age 12. She was active in the Southeastern festival and club circuit from ages 12-16, and shared the stage with Chris Duarte, Derek Trucks, and Jonny Lang. After a long break from performing, she resurfaced in her mid 20s with Tampa-based indie rock bands Dear Old Liar and Gentleman Callers, and the Tropicalia-noir duo Cavalo. In addition to Gerle Haggard, she is currently working on a solo experimental guitar project and is starting a film/dance scoring company, “Furacão Music”, based in Portland and São Paulo, Brazil. Really, come and check out this woman’s skills. She’s incredible.

We’re also super lucky to have Tasha Christensen hold down the rhythm guitar fort, but she does so much more than that. Tasha is a multi-instrumentalist who also deftly brings a wide range of vocal talent to our group. She’s been playing music forever, and has been, and we’re quoting, “in 19 not-cover bands and 6 cover bands.” She’s also an absolute joy — and plays a mean accordion! You can hear Tasha take on lead vocals on one of our favorite songs, “The Way I Am,” at an upcoming show.

So — that’s it for now. We look forward to seeing all of you at a show!




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GerleHaggardAl'sDen8 10-25-14We took a good portion of the early part of the year off to work on some new material. Many of us were aching to add some of our new favorite Merle tunes into our set list and since there are “many of us,” that list grew pretty long pretty fast. So, that’s what we did. New songs we’ll be performing this summer include “Irma Jackson,” the song Merle wanted to release following the massive success of “Okie From Muskogee,” but record execs deemed it too controversial and were worried it would tarnish Merle’s image, so they released “Fightin’ Side of Me” instead. Execs. Pshaw. Anyway, we LOVE this song.

Also added are the oft-requested “Kern River,” “Sing Me Back Home,” and “The Way I Am,” as well as fun little ditties like “Red Bandana,” and “Working In Tennessee.”

You can come see us play these and SO many other fantastic Merle tunes at one of our many upcoming shows this summer. We would love to see you! And, if there are any favorite songs you would like us to cover – please let us know!

Upcoming Shows:

May 28th: The Kennedy School

June 6th: The Sou’wester Lodge

June 19th: Biddy McGraw’s

June 27th: The Deer Lodge

July 18th: SEO Horse Rescue Benefit

Sept. 12th: The Sou’wester Lodge

You can get details about these and other upcoming shows on our Facebook Event Page.


Oh, and here’s our version of that fabulous “Irma Jackson!”






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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Campbell

In the past couple of weeks we were at Al’s Den with Emily Herring and Sloan’s Tavern, both in Portland and both were terrific fun! Since this summer we’ve been fortunate to have photographer Elizabeth Campbell grace us with her presence and photography skill to capture some lovely live photos that we thought we would share with you! Elizabeth has been taking photos for Oregon Music News and we’ve been so lucky that she’s been willing to share these photos with us. Thank you Elizabeth!

Next show for us is out in Molalla — we’re doing a Christmas-themed show for the seniors at the Molalla Adult Community Center on December 6th. If you live out in that neck of the woods, or want to come enjoy country hospitality, please join us! Jessie Leigh, a wonderful singer from Estacada will be joining us as well!

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Hello and Happy Fall! The last few weeks have seen all of us wrapping up summer activities with friends and family and now we’re tucking into getting back to business with the musical part of our lives. We’re learning some new material for shows in October and November and very excited about the venues we’ll be playing!

First up,  we’ll be playing at the Silverton Sidewalk Shindig this Saturday, October 4th. This is an  all-day, FREE, music festival where more than 60 musicians will play at about 30 venues throughout the charming town of Silverton, about an hour south of PDX. We’re being hosted by Howard Hinsdale Cellars and playing from 6 to 8pm.

Bobbie the Wonder Dog

Bobbie the Wonder Dog

If you haven’t visited here before, this would be a terrific opportunity. Silverton is the gateway to Silver Falls State Park, and is replete with plenty of window shopping, dining possibilities and boasts one of my very favorite animal stories ever: Bobbie the Wonder Dog, who in 1923 walked more than 2,5oo miles back home to Silverton after getting lost on a family trip in Indiana. The story became a sensation, and Bobbie a legend, so much so that Rin Tin Tin, the most famous dog in the world, laid a wreath at Bobbie’s grave when he died in 1927. There is a whole mural dedicated to Bobbie’s story, so be sure to check that out when you come to town!

Emily Herring

Emily Herring

Next up, on October 25th, we’re excited to play with the fabulous Emily Herring, who’ll be in town for a three-day stint at Al’s Den in Portland. We get to play with her on Saturday night, the show starts at 7pm and is free. Emily recently picked up the 2014 Carl T. Sprague Award at the Texas Music Awards and was recently featured in Austin’s KXAN TV studio to help promote the 4th Annual BeBobALooza Music Festival.

On November 7th, we’re back at Sloan’s Tavern – our home away from home! We love playing this venue so much and are always grateful to return! We’ll be playing the first set, starting at around 7pm, but be sure to stick around – you don’t want to miss the debut of Down On Her Corner, an all ma’am band that will send you south with their re-creations of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swampy sounds and iconic hits. Super fun show, people. Super fun.

Also just got word that we’ll be playing McMenamin’s Kennedy School on New Year’s Day, and we’ll be sure to let you know more about that! We look forward to seeing you all at a future show or two!

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Last Sunday we played a Happy Hour slot at The Station in NE Portland. What a fun venue! Despite the heat we had many well-wishers among our audience, some new folks and some old friends! The Station is a fairly new tavern, set in a historic Portland building on 27th and Alberta. Built in 1931, it used to house the Northwestern Electric Company, hence the name, and you can still see remnants from its past throughout.

Backstage waiting for the show to begin! (From Left: Nikki Jardin, Jennifer Adams, Salisa Williams, Claire Barnes)

Backstage waiting for the show to begin! (From Left: Nikki Jardin, Jennifer Adams, Salisa Williams, Claire Barnes)

We played on the patio, or should I say, we played above the patio, in a little balcony space about 15 feet over the crowd. It’s a good thing we’re all such good friends, because the stage footprint was pretty small, but at this point we’re getting really good at fitting all seven of us in a tight space!

Photographer Elizabeth Campbell of Oregon Music News came and stayed to snap some pics (that’s one of her pics above – you can see the full gallery here), getting pretty inventive and downright acrobatic in her venture to get the best shot! Claire’s husband Dan also videoed a bit of our set, the last minute or so of “Working Gerle Blues,” and our closing song, “Okie From Muskogee.” Have a look and a listen, and thanks so much for stopping by!


We’re playing a benefit for Sound Equine Options this Saturday, July 12 and will be back in Portland at the homey, lovey Sloan’s Tavern on Friday, August 1. We look forward to seeing you all soon!

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We really just had a blast playing one of Beaterville’s very last shows. The popular bar and restaurant has closed its doors after 20 years so owner Bill Lockner can enjoy some much needed R & R. Bill is a big Merle Haggard fan, so we were thrilled that he wanted us to come and play. Bill has always been a great promoter of live music, offering a lot of local talent onto the stage over the years – the venue and its staff will be very missed.

A few of us got there early enough to see Chuck Cheesman play a happy hour set, which was a real treat. Chuck has a beautiful voice, a rich song list of folk covers and some truly beautiful original songs, he’s also just the absolute nicest guy. One of Chuck’s day jobs is performing  for kids, but he’s far from one of those sappy, woosy, Barney kind of kid’s singer — he plays real music, with lyrics that kids can relate to and totally enjoy (check out “Blank Piece of Paper or Seafood Song“) — he was a joy to meet and listen to.

Tave was in rare form that night, and the band is starting to sound tighter with each live performance as we get settled into our set list. We absolutely love playing and feeling all the juicy audience energy! We wanted to share a little snippet from that performance, our version of “It’s Been a Great Afternoon,” which features a very animated Tave, some tasty guitar work by Maria and a fun, enthusiastic crowd.

We look forward to doing it again in just a few days on July 6th at The Station!

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Merle in storytelling mode in between songs

Merle in storytelling mode in between songs

Now that we’ve been in this band for awhile and digging in to learn as many of Merle’s tunes as we possibly can, we’ve been feeling pretty up close and personal with these songs. We have our favorites individually, and those we love to play as a band, and we all have two or three or six that we want to add into the set list as soon as possible. When you’ve got a catalog of music as deep as The Hag’s, it’s like a never ending treasure hunt, with new shiny objects under every rock.

So when we heard that Merle and The Strangers were coming back to Portland this summer, we were super excited. It’s always so fun to see these songs played live, hearing Merle sing them and watching those Strangers hold it down. We had seen him back in March — half of the band went to Tacoma and the other half went to see him in Salem — but for this show we all got to be together, so it had that extra special zing to it. Plus, it was outdoors and it just turned into the most beautiful night.

We’ve all love Merle’s music, but especially love how much he’s brought of himself to the stage for so many years. It’s very touching, that moment when he walks out on stage . . . it’s kinda hard to believe he’s right there. We were laughing after the show because we all said we kinda choked up when we first saw him! Maybe it’s middle-aged female emotion, who knows.

The show was super fun — and afterwards we were hanging out, gathering our little group up and just happened to see Merle’s keyboardist, Floyd Domino coming out of the backstage area. Tave and Jennifer had introduced themselves to him after the Salem show, and Tave didn’t hesitate to jump right out there again and say a big how do. He was such a gentleman, he remembered about our little band and even asked how our show went the previous night, which was lovely. It was a great end to the evening!

Keyboard player Floyd Domino with some of the band after the show.

Keyboard player Floyd Domino with some of the band after the show.

So, thank you to all The Strangers for putting on such a great show, and a special thanks and blessings to Merle Haggard! Have a great rest of the tour and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

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Tom at the BoardClaire and Maria, along with engineer Tom from Lost Studios have been polishing up our demo — here’s the latest (almost) final version of Merle’s classic “Working Man Blues.”


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