After 10 months and 35 states, Oregon native Mario Carboni — also known as the Honky-Tonk Rebel — has returned home and is bringing a music legend with him.

Norm Hamlet — an award-winning steal guitarist who performed, recorded and toured with Merle Haggard for 49 years — will join Carboni for four Pacific Northwest concerts. Roseburg will be the group’s final stop.

“It’s kind of intimidating, a little bit,” Carboni said, when asked how it is playing with the steel guitar hall-of-famer. “I definitely feel the pressure.”

Carboni and Hamlet play a subgenre of country known as the Bakersfield Sound. Described as a raw, scaled down mix of twangy guitars, drums, fiddle and steel guitar, Bakersfield Sound was a defiant reaction to string orchestra-laden, polished music produced in Nashville. The music became popular in the late 1950s, thanks to the musicians like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

Carboni is an accomplished piano and trumpet player — which he often plays simultaneously — and vocalist with four recorded albums to his name. He began playing piano at a very young age. He learned the Bakersfield Sound from Red Simpson, who wrote six songs that Haggard covered and 35 of Buck Owens’ hit songs. He has recorded with the likes of Jimmy Phillips, Susan Raye and Johnny Rodriguez. Carboni has toured for the past seven years in about 34 states and an average of 30,000 miles each year.

“I get to see a lot of the country and meet a lot of folks,” Carboni said. “Its been wonderful to get these experiences and be in different areas and to get to meet guys like Norm.”

Hamlet began playing steel guitar in his teens and was an established musician in Bakersfield when Haggard asked him to go on the road. Hamlet was initially reluctant, but it was an opportunity Hamlet couldn’t pass up. He went on to play with Haggard for 49 years. Now in his 80s, Hamlet continues to tour with Haggard’s sons Noel and Ben.

Together, the duo will showcase select hits from Haggard, Simpson and Owens. Shasta Ray Productions will host a meet and greet from 2 to 3 p.m. The show starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at Oran Mor Artisan Meads, 305 Melrose Road, Roseburg.

Advanced tickets are $20 and available at While Away Books, 932 W. Harvard Ave., Roseburg, Oran Mor Artisan Meads, or by calling Shasta Ray at 541-537-1031. Tickets are $30 at the door.

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Community Reporter

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review and a native Roseburgian. She is an alumni of Roseburg High School, Umpqua Community College and Western Oregon University. She can be reached at or 541-957-4218.

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