Weekend preview: Where Merle Haggard lives on

25 things to do in South Florida this weekend and beyond.

We’ll raise a bottle or two this weekend to Merle Haggard, an original country outlaw but also a songwriter of remarkable sensitivity.

The California-born Haggard was adept at giving life to the vanishing dreams of the average American in such anthems as “Okee From Muskogee” and “Workin’ Man Blues,” and strong enough to write with soul-baring tenderness, heard in “Mama Tried,” “Silver Wings” and “Today I Started Loving You Again.”

And, of course, he was unsurpassed at drinking songs. So this weekend will be all about that barroom poetry of his, with the classic swing of “The Bottle Let Me Down” in heavy rotation.

One place to keep it real Merle Haggard-style is the Oakland Park Music & Food Trucks on Main Street festival on Friday, featuring South Florida country singer-songwriter Tom Jackson and his band.

The monthly gathering (a fourth-Friday event moved up this time due to Passover) takes place 6-10 p.m. in front of  Oakland Park City Hall (3650 NE 12th Ave.), just down the street from Funky Buddha Brewery, setting the stage for a critical mass of outdoor merrymaking.

Jackson is a veteran of local stages who is no stranger to Haggard's catalog.

"Man, I grew up on Merle Haggard," says Jackson, who was raised in Belle Glade and West Palm Beach. "Country music was in our family. Merle, Waylon… Keith Whitley, all those guys."

When he heard Haggard had died, Jackson posted an acoustic version of "Mama Tried" on his Facebook page (Facebook.com/TomJacksonBand), which has generated more than 2,000 views. 

“He was one of the true country songwriters. It shows you how much the industry has changed. Songs like ‘Mama Tried,’ ‘Today I Started Loving You Again,’ these were stories that reached out to you, like they were talking back to you. These guys were storytellers,” Jackson says, adding names such as Kris Kristofferson, Ronnie Milsap, Eddie Rabbitt to his pantheon with Haggard and Waylon Jennings.

The Jupiter-based Jackson has always had Haggard’s songs in the band’s rotation for live shows, and says they’ll do a special tribute to the singer on Friday in Oakland Park.  

“For sure we’ll do ‘Workin’ Man Blues,’ ‘Mama Tried,’   ‘Stay Here and Drink,’ maybe ‘Silver Wings,'” he says. It will be a testament to a singer who wrote fearlessly, Jackson says.

“He had a rough life growing up, and it got rougher. He lived those songs,” he says.

Admission to Oakland Park Music & Food Trucks on Main Street is free, as is plentiful parking. Info: Facebook.com/OPCRA

WEEKEND MOVIE

The tortured genius that was Chet Baker, the trumpeter and singer who embodied the West Coast cool sound with a stylishness that branded him “the James Dean of jazz,” is captured in the haunting biopic “Born to Be Blue,” opening Friday at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood and O Cinema Wynwood. Played by four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke, Baker is revealed at a particularly vulnerable chapter in his life, as the heroin addict attempts a comeback while relearning the trumpet after having his teeth knocked out by drug dealers. Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote: “In Mr. Hawke’s extraordinary performance, this glamorous enigma becomes a credible, if pathetic character who lives for only two things: to play the trumpet and to shoot heroin.” Info: FLIFF.com, O-Cinema.org.

A COURSE IS A COURSE, OF COURSE

Not to interrupt your Masters viewing, but the third annual Clematis Putt & Strut returns to the roughs and traps of Clematis Street in West Palm Beach 2-5 p.m. Sunday. As you’ll recall, the irreverent nine-hole event (sponsored by the boys at Logan Realty) challenges foursomes on a course of holes creatively designed inside some of the party zone’s most distracting destinations, including O’Shea’s Irish Pub, Grease Burger Bar, ER Bradley’s, World of Beer, Shout Karaoke, Tin Fish and Southern Railway Tap House. Players get drink and snack specials, and you’ll be back in plenty of time to watch the end of the Masters during the after-party at the newly remodeled Longboards restaurant. Awards and prizes will be given to the first-place team, best hole and best team outfit. Tickets: $20 ($80 per foursome). All proceeds go to the Share the Stoke Foundation, which seeks to help underprivileged young people through surfing. Tickets and info: LiveWPB.com/clematis-putt-and-strut.

ARTFUL TALK

At his studio, Imperfect Utopia, artist Carlos Betancourt created a home in the 1980s for disparate Bohemian elements coursing through the underground that would come to define the Miami aesthetic, a roiling melting pot of color and sound that continues to influence mainstream culture. At 2 p.m. Sunday at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Betancourt and museum director Bonnie Clearwater will discuss his new book, “Imperfect Utopia,” followed by a book signing at 3 p.m. Info: NSUArtMuseum.org, CarlosBetancourt.com

HOT AND COOL

Hot & Soul, the little restaurant that could, and can, and one hopes always will, is celebrating its third anniversary with a special brunch-to-dinner party and crawfish boil noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Home to consistently rewarding global soul food, Hot & Soul is also a word-of-mouth treasure for its laidback cool, which extends to the smart crowd you’ll find inside the intimate storefront near the Culture Room nightclub. Hot & Soul is at 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Info: Facebook.com/HotAndSoul.

SOMETHING NEW

The inaugural Sailboat Bend Art Festival is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday with the blocks around the 1310 Artist Lofts (1310 SW Second Court, Fort Lauderdale) filled with three stages of entertainment (the female DJ crew the Geishaz will be there), pop-up vendors and a family-friendly bounce house farm. There also will be food trucks, bars and a chance to check out the three-story, creatives-only 1310 Artist Lofts. Info: SailboatBendArtFestival.com

SOMETHING ELSE NEW

The TransAtlantic Festival returns to the  North Beach Bandshell (7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) on Friday and Saturday. A production of the Rhythm Foundation, which is always good about offering music that you may find new and invigorating, the Day 1 lineup includes Zach Condon’s alt-folk guise Beirut (for the first time in Florida), Mexico’s Troker and Haitian rockers Kazoots. The Day 2 headliner is New York-based Afro-funk octet EMEFE (with Miles Arntzen of Antibalas), joined by Miami’s Psychic Mirrors and R&B singer Chantil Dukart. Music begins at 6 p.m. each day. Tickets: $22.09-$53.74. Info: TransAtlanticFestival.com

BIG WORDS

O, Miami celebrates National Poetry Month in many forms, all unabashedly wordy and in your face. The biggest is on Friday, with a reading by the nation’s first Hispanic poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, projected in high-definition onto the 7,000-square-foot side of New World Center (500 17th St., Miami Beach). Like the wallcasts of New World Symphony performances, admission is free, the program begins at dusk (around 7:40 p.m.) and picnics are encouraged. Signed copies of Herrera’s books will be available after the reading, courtesy of Books and Books. Info: Omiami.org.

IN WEST(EROS) PALM BEACH

With the Season 6 premiere approaching April 24, Cupcake Burlesque returns to Respectable Street in downtown West Palm Beach with a “Game of Thrones” party called “A Song of Vice and Desire,” as you might imagine filled with “sexy seduction, swords and sorcery… comedy and tragedy, fire and blood.” Wait, blood? Troupe leader Miss Jenna Beth says you should feel encouraged to dress the part. Info: CupcakeBurlesque.com.

TAKE THE KIDS

The Disney-Pixar film “Inside Out,” a charming comedy about the conflicting emotions rattling around in our heads, is the Screen on the Green feature at 8 p.m. Friday on the Great Lawn in downtown West Palm Beach. With voices by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling and Lewis Black, it’s something even adults will get a kick out of. Admission is free. Info: WPB.org/events.

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach will host a job fair 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday to fill “hundreds” of positions, from parking and janitorial to security and VIP lounge staff. For more information, email kenmahr@livenation.com or wendimason@livenation.com.

YOUR VINYL WARNING

Beer and music, they go together like, well, beer and music. In the roll-up to Record Store Day on April 16, Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside Market (608 SW 12th Ave.) will host a music-trivia contest with Dogfish Head Brewery (apparently the “official” beer of RSD) on Monday at 6 p.m. Along with all the Dogfish Head, there will be “fabulous” prizes. On Record Store Day itself, bring your vinyl to Riverside South (3218 SE Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) and you’ll get $1 off all Dogfish Head drafts, plus they’ll have a hi-fi set up if you want to play your records. Info: Facebook.com/RiversideMarket.

CHOCOLATE ME

JP’s Chocolate Shoppe in Wilton Manors, whose truffle-y goodness likely needs no introduction to your palate, will join forces with Pompano Beach’s 26° Brewing Co. (2600 E. Atlantic Blvd.) for a beer-and-chocolate pairing at the brewery at 7 p.m. Wednesday. For example, one of the four pairings will consist of dark chocolate-dipped bacon dusted with chipotle powder paired with the brewery’s Scotch Ness Monster Scotch Ale. Need we say more? Except that tickets are $20. Info: Facebook.com/JPsChocolateShoppe and Facebook.com/26Brewing.

LOOKING GOOD

We’re thinking that it wasn’t his svelte appearance at the iHeart Radio Awards last weekend (an on-air spot with, yes, Big Boi) that encouraged radio star Elvis Duran to keep that 100 pounds he famously lost from coming back — it was Sunday’s turn as grand marshal of the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade, expected to draw 100,000 to Ocean Drive. A man must look his best. Visit: MiamiBeachGayPride.com.

FAREWELL, 'PASSENGER'

Reminder: The final performances of Florida Grand Opera’s production of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s deeply moving “The Passenger” are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Tickets start at $12. Info: FGO.org.

FRESH ALBERT

Confirmation came this week that South Florida bluesman Albert Castiglia will release his sixth album, the Mike Zito-produced “Big Dog” (Ruf Records), on May 20 with a release party in the Maxwell Room at the Downtowner in Fort Lauderdale. Castiglia likely will be sharing some of the new songs this weekend at Fort Lauderdale shows at Maguires Hill 16 on Friday and at Fishtales on 33rd on Sunday. Info: AlbertCastiglia.net

OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS

The annual Nirvana tribute, Nevermind, returns to Churchill’s Pub in Miami 8 p.m. Thursday (ChurchillsPub.com) … The multitalented Vanessa Williams, joined by a trio led by bassist Christian McBride, performs on the Jazz Roots series at Miami’s Arsht Center 8 p.m. Friday (ArshtCenter.org) … Seraphic Fire performs its Grammy-nominated rendition of Brahms’ “German Requiem” (with renowned soloists Tamara Wilson and Dashon Burton) Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Saturday in Miami Shores and Sunday in South Miami (SeraphicFire.com) …  Lewis Black (who played Anger in “Inside Out”) brings his seething comedy to the Fillmore Miami Beach 8 p.m. Friday (FillmoreMB.com) … Miami’s energetic Electric Piquete spices up Fort Lauderdale beach at Las Olas Boulevard 5:30 p.m. Friday (FridayNightSoundwaves.com)  … Josh "The Pitbull of Blues" Rowand, indie rockers Mayo, food trucks and art and crafts vendors liven up the free Sounds at Sundown concert series in Margate 5-10 p.m. Saturday (MargateFL.com) … The free Gospel Sunday concerts return to Miami’s Arsht Center  5 p.m. Sunday (ArshtCenter.org) … New York-based trumpeter-vocalist Bria Skonberg brings her quartet to the Broward Center at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday (BrowardCenter.org) … The remarkably popular, Grammy-winning a capella group Pentatonix performs at the BB&T Center 8 p.m. Wednesday (Ticketmaster.com) … Beloved rocker Meat Loaf brings the “Paradise” to Pompano Beach Amphitheater 8 p.m. Thursday (April 15) at 8 p.m. (Ticketmaster.com) …

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at SouthFlorida.com, on Twitter at @BenCrandell and Instagram /BenCrandell. Email: bcrandell@southflorida.com.

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