On Monday night, Kris Kristofferson took things back to his standing room only days by performing the first of three intimate club gigs at Nashville’s Basement East, alongside Ben Haggard and the Strangers. Beginning the show a little before 8:00 p.m., Kristofferson, Haggard and their ace band – including drummer Jeff Ingraham, bassist Doug Colosio, fiddler Scott Joss and steel player Normal Hamlet, a veteran of Merle Haggard’s crew – played a diverse selection of beloved songs from both Kristofferson and the Haggard family catalogue, including “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Me & Bobby McGee,” “Okie from Muskogee” and the closer “Why Me,” joined by daughter Casey Kristofferson and Margo Price.
Recorded in 1972 with Rita Coolidge – Casey’s mother – “Why Me” became Kristofferson’s seminal country hit, through it was eventually recorded by a number of other artists, including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, David Allan Coe, Elvis Presley and even CeCe Winans as recently as last year, showing the breadth and lasting impact of Kristofferson’s songs, which transcend genre altogether.
Price and Kristofferson have shared the stage before, singing “Me & Bobby McGee” at the Newport Folk Festival in 2016 with the Texas Gentlemen – and they clearly shared something else last night, too (“when Kris Kristofferson offers you a joint, you smoke it,” she tweeted). Price herself is prepping for her own three-night run, this time at the Ryman Auditorium with a string of shows beginning Saturday alongside Tyler Childers and Colter Wall.
Kristofferson – who will turn 82 on June 22nd – will play his second show at the Basement East tonight, concluding the sold-out run on Wednesday.