Merle Haggard, the one and only California-born (delivered in the converted boxcar his family called home, naturally) Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, is a furry, freaky, thoroughly unpredictable and not necessarily all too pleasant specimen of Homo sapiens. Scarred by the death of his father when the singer was just 9 years old, Hag, as he is known, developed an ingrained criminal pathology and a lurid record as an incorrigible penitentiary escape artist. Nonetheless, he ultimately outsmarted himself and ascended to unquestioned status as one of hard country's most reliably brilliant, ornery and original artistic forces. With a flabbergastingly varied and achingly beautiful catalog of original compositions — 38 of which have reached No. 1 on the Billboard country charts — Hag's relentless drive and peerless skill as an interpretive vocalist burn as intensely today (at age 76) as ever they did. But he won't be around forever, Hoss, so drag your miserable butt down to this rare Los Angeles appearance or suffer the honky-tonk consequences.

Wed., Dec. 11, 8 p.m., 2013

LA Weekly