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The grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Jr. is having to deal with yet another post-contract release from Curb records, this time called Rambin’ Man, slated for release on April 1st. Insert your April Fool’s jokes here. The album will include 8 tracks of outtakes, unreleased material, and cover songs Hank3 contributed to tribute albums and other projects during his Curb years. Most of the music is stuff Hank3 fans have already heard, repackaged to look like a new album.
Hank3 entered into a 6 album contract with Curb in the late 90‚Ä≤s after a child custody suit and a judge forced him to get a ‚Äúreal job‚ÄĚ. Curb was able to stretch Hank3‚Ä≤s album count to 7 by releasing Hillbilly Joker in 2011; a ‚Äúhellbilly‚ÄĚ album Curb initially rejected, but released after Hank3 had fulfilled his contract at the end of 2010. Then Curb released an outtakes album in 2012 called Lone Gone Daddy that brought the total of Curb releases on Hank3′s 6-album contract to 8. Ramblin’ Man would make it 9.
With the news of the release of Long Gone Daddy, Hank3 fans knew Curb still had unreleased material from the 3rd generation star, because a cover of Johnny Paycheck’s “I’m The Only Hell (My Momma Ever Raised)” that was rejected on his Damn Right, Rebel Proud album had yet to surface. Though Curb decided at the time that the cover song was not fit for public consumption, similar to how they rejected Hank3′s Hillbilly Joker album altogether, they see perfectly fit to release the song now on this new record.
Hypothetically, Ramblin’ Man would be the last of Hank3′s material from the Curb era, though the inevitable “Greatest Hits” card has yet to be played by the label.
Some other interesting notes from the track list: “On My Own” was a song from Hank3′s previous Curb record Risin’ Outlaw. “Ramblin’ Man” is a song by Hank Williams that Hank3 once recorded a cover of with The Melvins, as was Merle Haggards “Okie From Muskogee”. “Fearless Boogie” is a ZZ Top song Hank3 once covered on the tribute Sharp Dressed Men. “Marijuana Blues” originally appeared on Rare Breed: The Songs of Peter LaFarge.
Hank3 has previously encouraged fans to burn these albums and share them instead of buy them. He’s also indicated intention to release new material in 2014.
Ramblin’ Man Track List:
- Ramblin’ Man
- Fearless Boogie
- Okie From Muskogee
- The Only Hell (My Momma Ever Raised)
- On My Own [Full Length Version]
- Marijuana Blues
- Hang On
- Runnin’ & Gunnin’
Few things get people talking in the independent channels of country music like a Hank3 release. From his neotraditional days in the early 2000′s when he had traditionalists singing his praises, to his magnum opus Straight to Hell from 2006 that saw his punk and metal influences bleed over into a hard country approach, to his last few releases that have become a polarizing subject with many fans—some still saying he’s the torchbearer and king of underground country, while others speak about the quality issues and lack of diversity in the lyricism.
The first observation that must be given about Brothers of the 4×4 is just how much music is included here. The album contains 16 songs—a big bushel to begin with. But then factor in that out of those 16 songs, 9 of them are over 5 minutes, 7 of them are over 6 minutes, 3 of them are over 7 minutes, and one, which happens to be the opening track, clicks in at 8:34. Forget scaling music for radio play, Brothers of the 4×4 is the country music equivalent to a rock opera, with wide, sweeping, monster undertakings of music, playing out grooves with fiddle, banjo, and guitars trading breaks until their exhaustive end. This approach in itself is an expression of creativity and a new direction for country that is more akin to a Frank Zappa, or Grateful Dead approach, but without the heady, or space jam baggage.
And according to Hank3, he wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered this entire album, along with a completely separate punk album called A Fiendish Threat in 4 months. Though this may be unusual for the country crowd, this isn’t unusual if you go back and look at the output and approach a Frank Zappa would take with his music for example. And that’s the vein this album should be taken in—one of a late 60′s, early 70′s experimental project as opposed to a straight-laced 3-chords and the truth-type approach to 3-minute country songs.
But the breadth of the project lends to Brothers of the 4×4‘s biggest problem, which is the same problem with many of Hank3′s latest releases: quality control.
If this album was boiled down to maybe half of its current weight, and just a little more time was spent on whatever was left, you very well may have a 2 guns up, 5 star album here. But because you have to wade through a decent amount of chaff, and because Hank3 goes to similar wells so many times, by the end of the album he is showing his hand in places, and your ears are physically tired. At the same time Hank3 achieves some moments that harken back to his golden era in the early and mid 2000′s, while still forging new ground and achieving new marks that he will struggle to meet in the future.
Beyond the volume that Hank3 seems to be trying to achieve, there are two main issues keeping him from putting out another landmark album. The first is that he continues to insist on using the same consumer-grade Korg D1600 tracking machine that he recorded Straight to Hell on nearly a decade ago, even though there are much better means for home recording that would in no way impinge on his DIY, home recording philosophy. The continuance of the D1600 era casts a film on all of his recordings from its inferior technology, while still not giving it the warmth an analog recording affords, which is the “new” old way of making records.
Second, he’s not writing songs, he’s writing music, and then putting words on top of that music to make songs. Or at least this is the way the priority of things comes across in the music. We see the appearance of the same tired phrases and themes that felt original and fresh on Straight to Hell, but now are beyond tired. But to Hank3′s credit, there seems to be fewer of these songs on Brothers of the 4×4 than you would expect. Hank3 exists in a very unique niche of music, where he takes bold, creative leaps sonically and structurally, while sometimes residing in a very predictable place lyrically. The most unfortunate part of this is it clouds people’s perspectives from seeing just how progressive and downright groundbreaking Hank3 can be, evidenced on the other half of his last country record, Guttertown. His core audience is hellraising rednecks, and this isn’t the place you would traditionally look for progressive country being pushed to its cutting edge.
Another big point to make about Brothers of the 4×4 is that it is very, very country. His famous yodel makes a reappearance, though it is run through a megaphone-sounding filter to help bolster the tone. Maybe the album’s greatest achievement is once again striking that balance he struck so well in Straight to Hell, where he brought his punk and metal influences right up to crossing the line, but still kept the music solidly country. That accomplishment is what won Hank3 the widest audience in underground country, and he does it again on this album.
When it comes to the songs themselves, Brothers of the 4×4 is somewhat of a mixed bag, but with more good points than bad. “Broken Boogie” is downright epic, and must be named in the same breath with Hank3′s other signature songs. Unlike some of the album’s other 6 and 7-minute tracks, the lyrics are actually an asset instead of a detriment, and the song achieves an infectiousness and depth that sucks you into a fully-immersive musical experience. The sparse, mandolin-driven “Gettin’ Dim” is the shortest song on the album, but holds just as much boldness as it’s longer counterparts. I kept waiting for the 8-minute opening track “Nearly Gone” to turn boring, but it never does, driven by Hank3′s rediscovered yodel. “Possum in a Tree,” though in no way a deep or meaningful song, is still one of the album’s fun ones, featuring banjo legend Leroy Troy.
On the other side of the coin, “Hurtin’ For Certin’” just may be one of the worst songs Hank3′s has every written, with completely contrived lyrics and music set in a register that is unflattering to Hank3′s tone. Songs like “Toothpickin’,” “Outdoor Plan,” and the title track “Brothers of the 4×4″ are big offenders of going to the whole “runnin’ and gunnin’” and “lookin’ for a good time” set of themes that have become Hank3′s substandard signature. But something about their approach on this particular album makes the lyrics either more tolerable, or at least forgivable, because the music is just so much fun. This is a fun album more than anything, and the listener should approach it as such.
Yes, Hank3 is as an isolated and disconnected artist to the rest of the music world as you will ever find. When he’s not on tour, I picture him perpetually mowing his lawn in east Nashville with his fingers in his ears, unbeknownst to the groundswell of resurgent roots artists that is happening right in his own neighborhood. Would he benefit from some slightly new equipment and a few more voices in the room as he’s recording? No doubt, and this is not because he lacks creativity or fresh ideas, it is because he doesn’t. But just like we all do, it takes feedback and collaboration to see those ideas come to their most ideal fruition, and compromises should be made to make those collaborations possible and foster an environment of growth.
But whether it is because the expectations are lowered, because the album is more country than his last, or because Hank3 has found a way to re-ignite his creative spark, Brothers of the 4×4 symbolizes a retrenching of Hank3 as a creative force in country, capable of generating inspiring moments in music. It’s just a shame you have to dig somewhat to find them.
1 1/2 of 2 guns up.
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
Country music madman, the Outlaw Carnie Bob Wayne has just announced he has a new album coming out May 22nd, 2012 (April 9th in Europa) from Century Media called Till The Wheels Fall Off, and that the album will feature a duet with none other than Hank Williams III called “All My Friends” that will be released MONDAY (3-26-12). ***UPDATE – Song has been released and can be PURCHASED HERE.
“When I recorded my first album Blood to Dust, I had about 30 songs written to choose from.” Bob explains. “The next two albums I recorded were a lot of older songs that I had in the bank. Then with the Century Media release of Outlaw Carnie we made kind of a “best of” album. I can tell you this, this album is EXACTLY where I’m at right now in life!”
Bob Wayne began his country career after years in metal bands when touring with Hank3 as a guitar tech. Wayne and his song “Working Man” appeared on Hank3′s 2008 album Damn Right, Rebel Proud as a duet. His new album, just like all of his albums, was recorded by Hank3′s steel guitar player Andy Gibson, and Hank3 had a little input as well.
“I had just gotten home from 312 shows in 17 different countries with no break. The day I got home Andy and I started breaking everything out and getting it going. My ears were completely burned out from touring so hard and I had gone over to his (Hank3′s) house to play him some tracks and he gave it a listen. It was pretty funny because I thought we were almost done mixing, and he looked over at me and goes, ‘Wheres the acoustic guitar?’ Then I started really listening and he was right!”
Though Andy Gibson has always recorded Bob Wayne’s albums, Bob explains that the process has evolved dramatically over time.
“Back then we were recording on an 8 track machine. The next two records were also done in this fashion. As Andy helped with several more Hank 3 albums and a Goddamn Gallows album and several .357 String Band records, his studio became more and more advanced, better mics, more recording knowledge, better gear all around, etc. Also through the years I was touring constantly on these songs and I became more confident in my singing. I think that’s pretty obvious in the performance differences from my early recordings to now.”¬†
“The funny thing is when I hear people talk about really liking the old cd’s and now that Century Media signed us were all overproduced or whatever, that’s really funny to me because they have nothing to do with the recording except give us money (laughing), it is still just me and Andy in here grinding it out. The biggest difference in the way we recorded back then and the way we record now is we track the drums and bass and acoustic guitar and vocals live. Before we didn’t have enough equipment to do that so we had to record everything one at a time. I really like recording the foundation of the record live as it is more true to what we actually sound like.”
Along with Hank3 and Andy Gibson, Wayne also had help on the album from Donnie Herron (BR549, Bob Dylan) on the title track that was written at the 2011 Muddy Roots Festival.
“It was at Muddy Roots hanging outside my camper one night. Brook from The Calamity Cubes happened to be walking by and Jean “La Diabla” from Holland was there as well. We ended up writing the song together right there in the campgrounds! A few fans even stopped by and listened! “Spread My Ashes On The Highway” is probably my favorite song on there. It actually kind of got me chocked up while writing it. The lyrics about all my friends quitting their jobs and hitting the road to travel and have fun kind of got to me. I actually wrote most of that driving by myself down some highway in Holland after playing the last show of a 312 day run.”
Yesterday Hank Williams III whose preparing for an East Coast tour in March participated in a live chat on Yowie.com (watch full session at bottom) where he dropped some interesting tidbits about some upcoming plans and projects, including that he’s planning to tour Europe again June 15th through July 15th playing clubs and some festivals, and will be releasing an unspecified collaboration with David Allan Coe in a couple of months. The project came up in connection with the legendary song “The Conversation” between Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings, and if him and Shooter Jennings would ever do a remake.
Well me and David Allan Coe have taken on that, and it will be coming out in about another two months or so. That’s just one of those songs that no matter who did it, it will never be the same, it will never be as cool as it was. It was a really special song for Hank Jr. and Waylon. Who knows what will happen in the future, but what David Allan Coe and me did will be the closest thing to something like that.
When asked how fans should approach Curb Records’ upcoming release of Long Gone Daddy, an album constructed of outtakes from Hank3′s early Curb albums, he told people to treat it like another disputed album, Hillbilly Joker, and bootleg it instead of buy it.
I would say do what you did with Hillbilly Joker. All they’re trying to do is take away from my sales. That’s why they keep putting out these records because they’re trying to take me and my organization down. So of course I don’t respect any of it. There might be a song on there that you like, but there’s a lot of things that you won’t like on there. You’ll see in time how some people have taken sides with Curb Records, people that were nobody and I helped them back in the day, and now they’re getting a little respect and they’re sticking with the corporate world. So I don’t have any respect for it. I would say get it, burn it, pass it out. I know I’ll never be listening to it. That’s what YouTube is for.
He also talked about his appearance on the new kids album Farmer Jason & Buddies Nature Jams put out by Jason Ringenberg of Jason & The Scorchers.
Jason & The Scorchers has been a big inspiration throughout the years. For him to have the guts to ask me to be on a kids record had a lot of respect. I think he respects my work ethic. He just called me up and said, “Man, would you be¬† into it,” and I said “Sure!” The song was fun, and to be on a track with one of The Ramones, he’s got a lot of interesting people on that. Who knows what will be in the future but that was my first official kids record.
And as for the status of Reinstate Hank:
The sad part about it is they didn’t do it while the Hank Williams exhibit was open at the Country Music Hall of Fame. That’s really the biggest letdown. They should’ve had the ceremony while the Country Music Hall of Fame was showing respects. All we can do is keep ruffling their feathers.
As first reported here on Saving Country Music, Curb Records is releasing a new album from Hank Williams III that includes outtakes from his first two solo albums, Risin‚Äô Outlaw from 1999, and Lovesick, Broke & Driftin‚Äô from 2002. The album has now been made available for pre-order through Amazon and is entitled Long Gone Daddy. It will be released on April 17th, 2012.
Hank3 entered into a 6 album contract with Curb in the late 90‚Ä≤s after a child custody suit and a judge forced him to get a ‚Äúreal job‚ÄĚ. Curb was able to stretch Hank3‚Ä≤s album count to 7 by releasing Hillbilly Joker last year, a ‚Äúhellbilly‚ÄĚ album Curb initially rejected, but released after Hank3 had fulfilled his contract at the end of 2010. Long Gone Daddy will bring the total to 8 albums Curb squeezed out of the 6 album contract.
The title track is likely the version of the original Hank Williams song that first appeared on the Hank Williams Timeless tribute album put out by Lost Highway Records in 2001. The original “If The Shoe Fits” appeared on Hank3′s first solo album Risin’ Outlaw, and “The Sun Comes Up” was a standard of Hank3′s early live sets and appeared on a Live From Scotland bootleg that was recorded by the BBC. “‘Neath a Cold Grey Tomb of Stone” is likely another re-purposed track from the very first album Hank III appeared on from Curb called Three Hanks. “This Ain’t Montgomery” includes Alabama recording artist Joey Allcorn.
This newest album will again leave Hank3 fans conflicted if they should respect an ongoing Curb Records boycott that has now stretched to fans of Tim McGraw, who along with many other artists, has had their issues with Curb, or purchase the new material from one of their favorite artists. Hank3 suggested that fans steal, copy, and bootleg Hillbilly Joker, which had already been in circulation as a bootleg years before Curb released it, but that did not stop the album from charting in the top 10 on Billboard. And unlike Hillbilly Joker, this Long Gone Daddy album includes some material never heard by the public before.
|1. I m A Long Gone Daddy|
|2. Sun Comes Up|
|3. The Bottle Let Me Down|
|4. Wreck Of The Old 97|
|5. Neath A Cold Grey Tomb Of Stone|
|6. The Wind Blew Cold|
|7. Good Hearted Woman|
|8. This Ain t Montgomery – w/ Joey Allcorn|
|9. What They Want Me To Be|
|10. If The Shoe Fits – Shuffle Mix|
For those fans of Hank Williams III that wished he’d stayed or go back to his early 2000′s neo-traditionalist country style and release more material reminiscent of that era, you may have just received your wish. And for the Hank3 fans that are worried that his post-Curb career will be marred by incessant album releases of rehashed material and leavings swept up on the cutting house floor, your concerns have just been validated.
Saving Country Music has learned from multiple sources that Curb Records is at work on releasing a new Hank3 (or more aptly titled, “Hank III”, his Curb-era handle) album. Though a track list and title are not available at the moment, the material is said to be mostly constructed from outtakes from the recording of Hank3′s first two solo albums, Risin’ Outlaw from 1999, and Lovesick, Broke & Driftin’ from 2002.
Hank3 entered into a 6 album contract with Curb in the late 90′s after a child custody suit and a judge forced him to get a “real job”. Curb was able to stretch Hank3′s album count to 7 by releasing Hillbilly Joker last year, a “hellbilly” album Curb initially rejected, but released after Hank3 had fulfilled his contract at the end of 2010. This new outtakes album will bring the total to 8, hypothetically with additional Hank3 material still left in the Curb coffers, including a Johnny Paycheck cover rejected as part of the Damn Right, Rebel Proud album, and the almost inevitable “Greatest Hits” card Curb has yet to play.
This newest album will again leave Hank3 fans conflicted if they should respect an ongoing Curb Records boycott that has now stretched to fans of Tim McGraw who along with many other artists, has had their issues with Curb, or purchase the new material from one of their favorite artists. Hank3 suggested that fans steal, copy, and bootleg Hillbilly Joker, which had already been in circulation as a bootleg years before Curb released it, but that did not stop the album from charting in the top 10 on Billboard. And unlike Hillbilly Joker, this new outtakes album will likely contain material never heard by the public before.
The Hank3 camp is planning to release a statement about this album once more information is known about it. Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for info on this developing story.
Two of country music’s most famous sons have apparently buried the hatchet on a long, 6 year feud that in many ways was one-sided, and was fueled by misunderstanding.
“Got an amazing care package from¬†Hank III with all 3 new records on vinyl & CD + a sweet rebel flag lighter,” Shooter fired off on his Twitter Feed over the weekend. The care package came after a recent exchange of text messages between Shooter and Hank3.
The Shooter vs. Shelton feud started in ernest in March of 2005, when Shooter released his debut country album Put The O Back in Country. Hank3 felt the album title and track were too close to his song “Dick in Dixie” which appeared on Hank3′s 2006 album Straight to Hell, but had been a live show standard for years before.
Yeah, as for Shooter, he‚Äôs here to ‚Äúput the ‚ÄėO‚Äô in country. . . If you wanna go down that road and rip us off, mutherfucker, I‚Äôll see you in ten years and five thousand shows down the road. We‚Äôll see where the fuck you‚Äôre at. You know, I called him out and just flat out said, ‚Äúfuck you if you‚Äôre gonna rip us off like that on your first release.
Shooter seemed pretty confused about the matter, telling CMT in 2006:
I don‚Äôt even know him. I met him once, I think, for a second. And somehow all this stuff started about how he hates me. I don‚Äôt know. It‚Äôs, like, stupid. Me, I just play music, and I like his music, and I don‚Äôt understand what that‚Äôs all about.
The fight over who put the ‘C’ or the ‘O’ where, and who was first, seemed a little senseless when in truth Carlene Carter, famous daughter of June Carter, and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, was on record in 1979 introducing her song “Swamp Meat Rag” at The Bottom Line in New York by saying, “If this doesn’t put the cunt back in country, I don’t know what will,” while an incognito June and Johnny sat in the audience in shock.
Over the 6 years of the feud, Shooter continued to support Hank3 by playing his music on his satellite radio show, and Hank3′s enthusiasm for the feud seemed to be fueled more by keeping the mythology of the feud alive, rather than with a deep-seeded anger at Shooter. In May of 2010, Hank3 said in an interview, “My 8-10 year run of talking shit I‚Äôm sure is close to being over. He‚Äôs not as green as he was.”
So I guess the founder of Apple Steve Jobs died or something? I don’t know. But it reminded me of a very strange but interesting piece of Hank3 T-shirt art that he debuted sometime in 2009, an all black shirt that simply showed the well-recognized Apple symbol with the bite out of the right side, an equals sign, and then a pentagram. I’m not sure he ever sold them, at least in mass, but he at least gave one to each member of his band, who at various times through 2010 could be seen wearing them on stage. Likely to keep from copyright issues, Hank3′s bite is facing down, not up, and the leaf is pointing left, not right.
When being interviewed by Superskum in Colorado Springs on June 26th, 2010, Hank3 explained the meaning behind the T-Shirt idea.
It’s symbolism. OK Apple. Why wouldn’t Apple have a whole apple as their logo? Alright? Well they have a bite out of the apple. Well that bite out of the apple in symbolism means “sin”. You know, there in the garden of temptation, what did you have? You had the snake, and Adam and Eve took a bite out of the apple. That’s showing the sin. So what I’m saying is there’s a little bit of symbolism there with Apple Computers. It should be a whole apple if it was a positive thing. But since there’s a bite out of the apple, that bite equals “pentagram”, equals sin. That’s the spoof on it.
A lot of skateboarders and surfers think the iPhone is a full on devil tool and stuff like that. So that was just me trying to have some fun with the underground kids.
According to CNN, the Apple symbol was a tribute to early computer pioneer and code cracker Alan Turing who died in 1954. He was a homosexual who tried to “cure” himself with estrogen injections, before taking a bite out of an apple he’d laced with cyanide to get out of facing jail time for “gross indecency”. Apple was also in a nearly 20-year trademark dispute with Apple Corps, the Beatles’ record label, which kept Beatles songs off of iTunes until November 16th, 2010.
Video of Hank3 talking about Apple symbol (at 4:40):
I hate Emo’s, Hank3′s preferred venue in Austin, TX, and where the bus stopped 9/13/11 on his current tour. I hate it with a passion, and would tell you that I will never go to another show there ever again, but I fully know, if there’s a band I really want to see playing there, I will be there, standing above the trough urinal with sweat cascading down my face in the stifling stench, struggling with a nervous bladder.
The inside stage of Emo’s is not all bad. This is where Hank3 started years ago, before graduating to the much larger outside stage that is the worst of all worlds. It is not inside, so it can’t be air-conditioned. But it is not fully outside either, meaning on a hot September night in Texas, there’s no breeze, making for a nasty soup of human expulsions out of the air that you could cut with a knife. Sight lines are bad. The sound is even worse, unless you’re right in front of the stage, and if you are, you have a pole right in front of you. The stage is awkwardly set off to one corner, and way too small for most bands, including Hank3, who had to stash his drummer Shaun McWilliams behind the row of amps from lack of space. You couldn’t see him at all.
I promise, I am not a venue snob. Many times the trashier the venue, the better. But Emo’s is over the top, and when I’m reminded that it’s run by the evil empire of C3, the Texas equivalent of Live Nation, it makes by blood boil even hotter than a half-assed venue with no breeze on a stifling late-Summer night.
Did I mention I didn’t like the venue?
All of this aside, Hank3 was pro and put on a solid show. I have to admit, I did not feel the same energy we got at the one-off Revival Festival he played in Austin in late May, with Johnny Hiland’s presence in the band making that show extra special. I felt we got mid-energy just-started-a month-long-tour-and-can’t blow-it-all-tonight energy, but I can’t fault the boys for that. The new songs were solid, and my concerns for translating the new music to the live show without an accordion to give it the authentic Cajun kick were countered by fiddler Davey Mac’s prowess.
Furthermore, some of the songs that I didn’t particularly care for on Hank3′s new album Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown, I found an affinity for in the live setting, especially the song “Guttertown”. I could easily see this song becoming a standard of the Hank3 live set for years to come. I also noticed that some of the songs from his last two albums, principally “Six Pack of Beer” and “Rebel Within”, are really catching on as crowd favorites.
Without an opening band, we got a full 1 1/2 hours of country music, with Hank3 reaching all the way back to the album Lovesick, Broke & Driftin’ with the song “One Horse Town”, sans the opening yodels. Then there was a very quick 3-song “Hellbilly” set before the stage went dark, various propaganda-style images in a loop were projected on a white sheet while Hank3 and only the drummer acted out a live version of Hank3′s new metal project Attention Deficit Domination.
That night I was dragging around a good friend of mine, an excellent photographer from Sweden named C.C Ekstrom. You can check out some of his work on the site almostoutofgas.com. He asked me what I wanted him to shoot, and I told him to shoot whatever inspired him. And what inspired him was the crowd, and the people. We all know what Hank3 looks like. So I told him to keep his crosshairs on the crowd.
Some will always question, or maybe even feel threatened by the diversity that seems to be attracted by underground country shows. I for one have always been amazed, mesmerized, proud, and humbled by that same diversity. Rednecks, punks, cowboys, hippies, bikers, straights, squares, all of them, all together, intermingling, sharing the gift of music, curious about their differences, not cautious. That diversity, in the crowds, in the music, in ourselves, is the true strength of the insurgent roots movement, it it our ace in the hole. It is the badge of our open-mindedness. And it is beautiful.
And yes, that is a man, in a Confederate Flag cape, wearing a Texas flag speedo, and nothing else.
This is a questions I get here at Saving Country Music quite often. The mythology and legacy of the Hank Williams name is so robust, some folks just can’t imagine it ever coming to an end. But getting to the answer I found to be a complicated task.
The requirement is simple though. For someone to be a true Hank Williams, they would need to be a son of Hank Williams III, and that son would need to be named Hank, at least in some way. However, Hank Sr.’s real name was Hiram King, which he changed to Hank, thinking it would be better for country music. The ‘Hank’ in Hank Jr. and Hank3′s name comes from their given middle name, not their first name: Randall Hank Williams and Shelton Hank Williams respectively.
We do know that Hank3 has at least one son, who he’s spoken about many times in reference to a paternal suit he was hit with when his son was 5, which resulted in him signing his music contract with Curb Records and getting professionally involved in country music. However at this point, that son, who is now somewhere around 20-years-old, is not involved in music, and was not named Hank or Williams, rather taking the name of his mother. At some point if he wanted to get involved in music, he could decide to take the Hank Williams stage name, and that would create a new set of debate points, but at this point, he is not Hank IV.
To further muddy the waters, there is a punk band out of San Francisco, CA called ‘Hank IV’, and it is not just some basement project, but an active band, putting out albums, garnering press, that has been around for years. I remember years ago rolling up to Hank IV’s MySpace site, and almost mocking to the situation, it said they wanted to take the name just in case Hank3 had a son that wanted to get into music. In November 2010, Hank IV released their third album entitled ‘III’, very similar to the moniker ‘III’ or three bars Hank3 used before changing recently to ‘Hank3′ to denote the new era of his career post-Curb Records. In fairness to Hank IV, the first thing on their MySpace site now is the disclaimer: “HANK IV is a San Francisco rock band still with no relation whatsoever to the Hank Williams clan.” So without question, San Fran’s ‘Hank IV’ is not the Hank IV we are looking for.
That leads us to a 13-year-old country music prodigy from Montgomery, AL named Ricky Fitzgerald. Ricky is an excellent young performer, who with haunting proficiency, can belt out the best of Hank Williams, as can be seen in this video taken in 2009 from the Wagon House Opry in Haddock, GA that proclaims him the “real Hank IV” in the title:
If you go to the URL for this video and read the comments (at the posting of this article), there is a comment that states:
He came to my venue, and I spoke with his family. He is a bastard child of Hank III, which is the story I got, Taken name is Ricky Fitzgerald, however he in fact is related and is Hank IV.
Furthermore, on this web page, it asserts that there is a Parham Henry Williams IV who is “…Hank III‚Äôs son out of wedlock, who is also following in Hank Williams‚Äô footsteps.” But when you click on the Parham name, it takes you back to the above video for Ricky Fitzgerald. Ricky has performed at many of the small Opry houses throughout the deep south, as well as the Nashville Palace in Nashville, TN, and the Hank Williams Museum and Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana, AL. He also apparently makes an appearance in the currently-dormant documentary about the Reinstate Hank movement, where he is presented as Hank IV.
But when you go to Ricky Fitzgerald’s website, there is no mention of ‘Hank IV’. Numerous attempts from Saving Country Music to reach representatives of Ricky Fitzgerald have gone unanswered, and his website has not been updated in about a year. If at some point Ricky or his representatives were using the name ‘Hank IV’, they apparently are no longer. Nowhere is there any evidence that Ricky Fitzgerald or anyone else is the real ‘Hank IV’. From my understanding, Ricky does have some distant blood relation to Hank Williams, possibly from Hank Sr.’s uncle, but he is not Hank3′s bastard son. When I interviewed Hank3 recently, I asked him about Ricky Fitzgerald, and the possibility of any Hank IV’s:
No, absolutely not. The only Hank IV I’ve ever heard about was Howard Stern’s old midget drunk. I know for a fact there’s no other unclaimed children out there. Anybody that was a bastard son, you know they’d be coming after me for money.
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So in closing, the answer is … no. Unless Hank3 has a son in the future and decides to name it ‘Hank’, the Hank Williams name will end with Hank3.
The movement to reinstate Hank Williams into the Grand Ole Opry, or Reinstate Hank, was started by Hank Williams III shortly after preforming on the Grand Ole Opry for the 50th Anniversary of Hank Sr.’s passing in January of 2003. From the stage the youngest Hank said “So you’re going to be hearing a lot of Hank Williams songs tonight, but keep one thing in mind. After all this time, maybe it’s time we can get Hank Williams back, reinstated in the Grand Ole Opry. That would be a dream come true for a lot of people.”
Shortly afterward Hank3 talked to the President of the Opry, who Hank3 says told him, “We’ll never reinstate a dead guy.” In February of that year, an online petition was started to Reinstate Hank that now boasts over 50,900 signatures, including the signatures of Hank3, and Hank Jr’s daughters Hillary and Holly. But Hank Jr’s name remains conspicuously absent, and his public affiliation or support of the movement was thought to remain absent as well.
Hank3 and Hank Jr. have always had a strained relationship, and it became even more strained years later on a night when Hank3 was playing at The Bluegrass Inn on lower Broadway in Nashville, while Hank Jr. was down the road, performing at The Opry. Hank3 talked about the exchange of text messages that happened that night in the book Family Tradition: Three Generations of Hank Williams.
What I actually said was, ‚ÄúI hope you find somewhere else better to play than The Grand Ole Opry, until they show respects to your father.”¬† And Hank Jr‚Äôs reply was, ‚ÄúWell, I‚Äôm done with The Opry.‚ÄĚ
Shortly thereafter, Hank Jr. and Holly were asked to perform at the Country Music Hall of Fame as part of their ongoing exhibit “Family Tradition: The Williams Family Legacy”. In the video below, Hank Jr., under his purple long sleeve shirt, is clearly sporting a Reinstate Hank shirt, like the ones sold at Hank3 shows.
Hank Jr.’s song “The Conversation”¬† carried the first public outcry for how the Grand Ole Opry had handled the late and great Hank Williams.
Back then they called him crazy, now a days they call him a saint
Most folks don‚Äôt know that they fired him from the Opry
And that caused his greatest pain
But for 5 years, for whatever reason, Hank Jr. remained silent about his son’s Reinstate Hank mission. He still might feel the need to veil his true feelings as a high-dollar, high-profile legacy country music celebrity franchise. But when you look deep down in Hank Jr.’s chest, you can tell where his heart is.
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Thanks to Adam Sheets of No Depression for alerting me to the video.
Ever since Hank Williams III released his groundbreaking double album Straight to Hell in 2006, he’s been chasing expectations. The followup Damn Right, Rebel Proud I’ve always asserted had some of the best songs he’d ever written, but the project got bogged down in production issues, a fact Hank3 admits himself. The next offering Rebel Within got the production kinks ironed out and had its moments, but began to expose Hank3′s lack of creativity in a Curb Records-controlled environment.
The first record in the 4 record salvo from Hank3 Ghost to a Ghost felt very much like business as usual in the post-Straight to Hell era. But Guttertown is where Hank3 gets it right by doing the same thing he did in the early and mid oughts, following his heart, defying any expectations for sound and genre, and letting his creative passion flow. Simply put, this is the best album Hank3′s put out since his 2006 opus, if not the best album he has put out ever, and possibly one of the best albums 2011 has seen so far.
Some will criticize that there’s not much country here, but that’s because great music transcends genre. Hank3 has warned his fans not to expect a lot of straightforward country from his double album, of which Guttertown constitutes the #2 platter. I think this warning is mostly for the more metal-oriented material on the first disc Ghost to a Ghost. If Hank3 thinks the heavily Cajun-influenced material, or even the ambient, transcendental music on Guttertown isn’t country, I would agree that it is not country in a traditional sense, but it is country from a lack of anything else to call it.
Tom Waits, a man who has created a storied career out of defying genre, while still pulling elements and influences from all over, appears on this album and is clearly a Hank3 fan. Though we think of early Hank III as a neo-traditionalist, and later Hank III as a fusion of country and metal, his true calling might be this genre-defying approach. In the opinion of this bear, it has worked twice, and constitutes the heart of his best material.
The approach to Guttertown is similar to disc #2 of Straight to Hell, though I caution of thinking of it as the same. Yes, it takes the idea of interlacing songs with ambient-based interludes and compositions, but Guttertown has such a better sense of timing and balance, and tracking out the individual offerings as opposed to laying out one big chunk creates more accessibility. Instead of songs and interludes, there is an inter-relationship between the two, making for better songs, and better interludes, and a better album.
The first thing that struck me about this album was Hank3′s patience, and his spectacular sense of timing. This is evident in two of the first three songs, “Goin’ to Guttertown” and “The Dirt Road”. For tracks of spoken words over ambient sounds to work, there still must be a pentameter set for them to work autonomously, and do more than just to carry along a storyline. These aren’t just simple interludes, they are some of the strongest tracks on the album.
The second and fourth songs “Gutterstomp” and “Mu Sha” are where Hank3 brings the Cajun influences out in earnest. I would caution trying to judge the Cajun-influenced songs on their merit as traditional Cajun songs; they are not meant to be taken this way. Think of it like the bluegrass songs on O Brother Where Art Thou. They are meant to be primers, influenced by the sub-genre, not serious offerings as solid Cajun music. But these songs, along with “Dyin’ Day”, “I’ll Be Gone”, and the Waits’ duet “Fadin’ Moon” are solid nonetheless, with “Fadin’ Moon” possibly the best track on the album.
Songs like “I Promised”, “Move Them Songs”, and “Trooper’s Chaos” would have been exposed without the help of creative interludes and a rolling storyline, like similar songs on Ghost to a Ghost. Here though, they fit into the mood perfectly. The standout track for me was “The Lowline”, which again showcased the amazing sense of timing that Hank3 brought to this project, as well as good songwriting, and solid singing.
My concerns for this album are few. One is that the Cajun-influenced songs are all consistently a little too long. Since these songs take a simple approach to lyric and structure, drawing them out for 5, sometimes 6 minutes tends to expose them a little. I also thought Hank3 could pay a little more attention to the percussion in these songs. He seemed to favor the convenience of traditional drumset toms instead of the more appropriate hand drums, or even washboard, spoons, etc. The drums at times come across as dry or canned. And I appreciate the effort of the song “With The Ship”, I just don’t know if in the end it works. He was wise to put it at the end.
Something else worth noting is that there is no punk or heavy metal influences present on this album. None. Some may listen to it, take away from it that it is weird, and just assume this is Hank3 and his weirdo heavy metal bent, but those elements don’t exist here. Neither does any seriously heavy language (cussing, drug use, etc.). And once again, just like with all great albums, and underlying theme and storyline elevate the individual songs where they value greater than the sum of their parts.
I love this album. Is is country? I don’t know, I think you can make the argument that it is. And even if you want to make the argument it isn’t, will you preclude yourself from enjoying good music because of preconceived notions of what you like? Country or not country, good or bad, this is Hank3 being himself. And whenever you have a project where this is the overriding goal, it will always be better than the project that is not.
With Guttertown, Hank3 has once again establishes himself as a leader in music. It’s a brilliant display of what can happen when raw creativity and patient execution go hand in hand.
Two guns up!
(vinyl available directly from Hank3)
As Hank Williams III has been telling us for some time now, once Curb Records was in the rear view mirror, he would finally have his creativity back. Among the unprecedented four releases Hank3 has assembled for his first salvo as an independent artist, there is undeniably a tremendous amount of originality and creativity, regardless of the appeal. But for the most part, you won’t find that creativity on Ghost To A Ghost, which as the most straightforward country album of the bunch, might be the most anticipated one.
Some, including myself, had opined that Hank3 was possibly squirreling back songs during the late Curb era, not wanting to give his arch nemesis his best material. Instead it feels like we got what was left on the cutting house floor, and a few songs that reek of self-parody. Folks hoping for a return to the golden era of Hank3′s country music creativity will have to keep waiting.
The album starts off with four songs, “Guttertown”, “Day By Day”, “Ridin’ The Wave”, and “Don’t Ya Anna”, with transparently-rehashed lyrical lines and themes. It’s like he didn’t even try to hide that he was stealing lines from himself. Some of the lines don’t even make sense. Hank3 comes across as uninspired, if not bored. “Guttertown” does have a few decent, original lines, but “Ridin’ The Wave” is a clear spinoff of his previous metal meets country songs like “Long Hauls & Close Calls and “Tore Up & Loud”. And folks, take my advice: never use the word “ultimate” in a song unless you’re trying to appeal to rebellious suburbanites who take their energy drinks in 16 oz portions.
The music itself is not bad, it’s just not good enough to cover for the lyrics. Johnny Hiland is an amazing chicken-picking guitar player, but having him noodle over everything for a whole song wore out its welcome two albums ago. Hank3 has one of the most soulful steel guitar players at his dispose in Andy Gibson, and I am not sure if he appears in any more than a cameo role on this album.
After the first four songs, there is some improvement, as we move from songs that are ill-conceived, to songs that are just OK, in the form of “Ray Lawrence Jr.”, “The Devils Movin’ In”, and “Trooper’s Holler”. Together they form another block of songs with a common theme: they’re all decent, but are songs that may populate and “odds and sods” type release, or might be used as a change of pace in an album, or as a ghost track. But using three of them to flesh out an album seems ill-advised. The track with Ray Lawrence Jr. is cool enough, but when you boil it down, is just a live track from the back of a bus. “The Devils Movin’ In” is simply a slightly different version of “Angel of Sin” from his album Straight to Hell. And “Trooper’s Holler”, though a fun track, is hard to take seriously as an honest song offering. At this point you feel like you’re listening to the Hank3 version of Coda.
With “Time to Die” Hank3 finally seems to bring some passion to fleshing a song out, putting forth interesting lyrics and instrumentation. The song also works to emphasize Hank3′s often overlooked impressive vocal range, when he reaches down low in the bellows to create a depressing mood. I just don’t know overall how appealing this song is, and it comes across as a little busy. “Outlaw Convention” falls into the same trap as the first 4 songs, taking the theme of “Not Everybody Likes Us” from Straight to Hell that worked so well on that album, and rehashing it yet again to where trying to get any life out of this song is like squeezing a turnip. The second half of “Ghost to a Ghost” featuring Tom Waits holds a slight appeal, if you can get past the first part that features interruptive screaming interludes that erode an otherwise good song idea.
The best song on the album is the completely crass and immature “Cunt of a Bitch”. Despite it’s obvious issues with accessibility and offensiveness, for the first time you feel like Hank is just having fun, trading lines with Alan King of Hellstomper, putting together a very addicting and deceptively smart song in regards to how it works. For once, Johnny Hiland’s chicken picking fits the structure and mood, and adds to the chaotic nature and tempo.
The lack of creativity on this album is puzzling, because with the other releases in this cycle, we know Hank3 is capable of it. One of my worries is that he is trying to feed a demographic of core fans that he thinks wants this “cockstrong” attitude. Folks might bellyache if he doesn’t fulfill that stereotypical requirement. What I don’t understand is why he couldn’t do both: the bridging of country and punk/metal that has become his signature, while still exploring the simplistic approach to songwriting that worked for him so well in his first few albums. I would say the reason is that he has no more passion for the simple country approach, but from what I hear on this album, he doesn’t have any passion for the the country/metal blending either. And though I appreciate that Hank3 refuses to use producers and such, creative input or criticism from friends is never a bad thing, and this album leaves me wondering if such friendly input is welcome in his world.
If Hank3 didn’t want to make a country album, then he shouldn’t have made one. As a country fan first I would rather have nothing than a sub-par release.
Some Hank3 fans have a rallying cry whenever there is criticism of him: “Not Everybody Like Us!”. If Hank3 continues to put out ill-advised albums, it will have to become “Nobody Likes Us”. But if you’re a true Hank3 fan, just like a sports fan, you must hang with an artist through the good times and bad. You can be fair in your assessment, but also hopeful with what the future holds. And fortunately with Hank3, to find the passion and creativity we were all hoping for post-Curb, you simply have to just move to the next album in the project.
1 1/2 of 2 guns down.
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(vinyl available directly from Hank3)
In about a week, Hank Williams III, or Hank3, will be releasing an unprecedented 4 albums via his own independent label, and then heading out on a West Coast tour. The albums can now be pre-ordered at hank3.com.
Ahead of the releases and tour, I talked with the head hellbilly himself about the new albums, the sordid legacy of fatherhood in the Hank Williams lineage, his role as one of the founding fathers of the country music underground, Shooter Jennings and his XXX movement, and how he feels about the unfinished songs of Hank Williams project. The full 30-minute interview can be listened to or downloaded below, and the major points are transcribed under that.
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Triggerman: There’s a lot of Cajun influences in this new music. I know you’re friends with Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Down, and Kyle Turley who played for the New Orleans Saints. Also when the Grand Ole Opry kicked Hank out, the Louisiana Hayride stuck with him. Did any of that have an influence on your Cajun approach, or was it simply a love of the music?
Hank3: Yes, Hank Williams had a deep connection to Louisiana, had a lot of friends from there that were really close to him. My dad was born in Baton Rouge. I used to go to Louisiana a lot as a kid, and get back in the swamps and some of the Cajun honky tonks. For me, that style of music, when I’m in a very unsettled place, the old Cajun music like Nathan Abshire and all these guys, the old recordings helped me out tremendously. There was something really magical about the way they recorded that stuff back in the day. It’s more friend and family oriented. A lot of raw emotion comes through some of those older recordings. And to me it was trying to do something that was just a little different.
Triggerman: Some of the songs you’re singing in French. Did you study Cajun music and French in preparation for this album, more than just listening to the stuff you’ve been hearing over the years?
Hank3: Just over the years I’ve got to meet a lot of people. There’s not just one style of it, there’s many, and it just kind of depends on what part you’re in. Yeah, there was a little bit of studying and a lot of my friends know how to go there. It’s more of a feeling than anything. It was a lot of fun. In the daytime I would be serious, from about 9 AM to 6 PM. Then from about 7 PM to midnight I’d be breaking the rules and letting things flow a lot more easily. My take on these new country records is there’s only five or six songs on there that I would consider country.
Triggerman: You’re saying a lot of this stuff isn’t country, and I would tend to disagree. It may not be country in a traditional sense, but I don’t know what else you would call it. Tom Waits appears on this album, and he’s kind of made a career of making music that is hard to define.
Hank3: I’m just saying that out of respects to my fans. Some of the Cajun stuff has a country feel. But I at least have to say that to my fans, because it’s a new line for a Hank3 country record.
Triggerman: Your dog Trooper is also featured prominently on this album. As I’ve been following the career of Hank3, Trooper makes these occasional appearances. How’s Trooper doing these days, he must be getting old?
Hank3: He’s getting up there, he’s about 12. But he’s hanging in there for me. He’s one of my #1 dogs. This is the 3rd record he’s been on. He was on “H8 Line”. He was on “Karmageddon”. Now he’s on “Trooper’s Holler” which I think is a crossover song that I think a lot of kids are gonna identify with. Even when David Allan Coe heard it he said, “That’s a little different, huh?” Then you’ve got “Trooper’s Chaos”. He would sing to that song every time I’d be working on it, so I just put him on the recording. My dogs have been like family to me. My music and my dogs have always helped me through my darker hours.
Triggerman: There’s been a lot of made about you leaving Curb. That’s a 15 year relationship that has come to an end. But the whole reason you got involved with Curb is you had a lawsuit brought against you from a one night stand and you were forced to sign the Curb contract. But through that time you were unable to see your son, but you had to pay for him.
Hank3: They were very rude about it. They served me papers on stage. I was opening up a show for Buzzoven, 5 metro officers walked in to serve me papers. I held up my end of the deal and made sure I wasn’t a deadbeat dad. He never saw that money. Most of that money went to her. Nowadays I’m able to be there for him, talk to him on a good or bad day. I’m glad it finally made a full circle, and that we got connected.
Triggerman: On the song “Guttertown” there’s a line, “Had me a friend in Birmingham, got a 20 year sentence for a one night stand. At least he did the time for his son.” I surmise that is autobiographical, but when you think about it, Hank Sr. died when Hank Jr. was very young, you’ve been pretty open about how Hank Jr. hasn’t been very involved in your life. Was it a purpose of yours to at least attempt to break that fatherhood cycle that the Hank Williams lineage was in?
Hank3: Yeah, it’s very important. Most Hank Williams didn’t have a father around, even Hank Sr.’s father wasn’t around much. My main thing is (for him to know) that we can talk about anything. I’m just trying to be there for him as much as I can.
Triggerman: There were some others before you, but before you started doing things differently in country, there wasn’t really an “underground” in country music like there was in punk music. There was the mainstream, and sort of the honky tonk circuit. You helped create this underground, probably at the start of your career, but especially in earnest when you release your album Straight to Hell. Do you feel like you’re aware of that fact, and just how many bands you’ve inspired, and do you feel like you’re aware of what’s going on in this movement?
Nowadays I can run a bus and a crew and keep ticket prices at $24 to $28 maximum. These people charging $250 a ticket is just ridiculous to see a live show. That’s not what country music is about. It’s about emotions, and being connected to your fans, and those working men and women out there. All in all I’m just out here, doing what I do, trying to inspire those bands out there to record themselves. Nowadays the independents have an opportunity they didn’t have 20 years ago. You don’t need a major label. All my new records are done on that same D1600 machine Straight to Hell was done on.
Triggerman: Are you aware of this movement Shooter Jennings started called XXX? And if you are, what are your opinions on it?
Hank3: No. I’m on the go so much, I haven’t listened to anything current. I’ve just been having to get everyone on my team on the same page. I don’t have no management, no secretaries, nothing man. It’s 24/7, full-on, doing it all myself. I haven’t been able to listen to a radio show in a long time. It’s just because I’m so busy right now. I might have heard of it, but I’ve not heard it. I don’t know what it involves or what it entails, or any of that stuff.
Triggerman: And you’ve had a feud over the years with Shooter. What are your feelings on Shooter right now, or are you aware enough of what he’s doing to have any feelings about him?
Hank3: Well back in the day I had to just call him out because he was clean shaven and wanted to be a rock band and all that. That was back in the past, now it’s the present. He knows I’ve had to say my peace. As Phil Anselmo would say, yesterday don’t mean shit. That’s just where it is right now.
Triggerman: You’re pretty famous for calling out pop country over the years, as well as fighting with Curb Records. Tim McGraw is going though a big battle with Curb Records right now. As ironic as it is, do you feel some sense of camaraderie with artists like Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, and Clay Walker that are coming out against Curb, and do you feel some sense of relief, because I’m sure some would portray Hank3 as a troublemaker, and now the problems are across the board with Curb’s artists.
Hank3: I’ll say most people who thought I was riding coattails now know I’m a real musician, and I play music because that’s what I do and I love it. It goes back to greed. Look at how many millions of dollars Curb Records made off of Tim McGraw. I didn’t make them that much money. It just goes back to not good business. Curb is just a better politician than he is a musician. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the music business or the racing business, once people get involved with him, they usually don’t have anything good to say about him in the end. Look at the money some of those acts have made him, and it’s still not enough? Yeah, that’s some pretty serious greed. And that’s pretty non-Christian if you sit down and think about it. That’s a shame he’s not respecting the musician.
Triggerman: There’s an album coming out with Bob Dylan taking unfinished Hank Williams songs and handing them out to personalities to finish. You’ve said in other interviews you weren’t asked to finish any of these songs. If you had been asked to finish one of these songs, would you have done that?
Hank3: I don’t know, that’s a tough question. I’ve always just wanted to stand on my own two feet and be recognized as Hank3. What amazes me is how upset it’s making my fans. That’s what’s really impressive to me is how they feel so offended, and feel like it’s so wrong. I’ve got nothing against Bob Dylan. He’s been an amazing songwriter and done his thing for many many years. When you’re dealing with unfinished Hank Williams stuff, that’s a pretty heavy topic. To give someone that opportunity, I just don’t know man, that’s pretty tough. But I’ve never been asked (to appear) on much. The fans are very upset, and I guess I’ll just let them do my speaking for me. Because I can’t go and say something against Bob Dylan. That’s just not right man. I’d say maybe they need to scope out Hank Jr. a little more than me.
When Hank Williams III started his country music career in the late 90′s, his neo-traditionalist sound and spitting image of his grandfather awakened the imagination of country music traditionalists that we were seeing the resurrection of the King of country music himself. With a similar style of yodel and moan, and the ability to write simple, but heartfelt and true songs, Hank III seemed the best equipped to carry on the Hank Williams legacy.
These days the yodel is gone, and Hank3 might be better known for his blending of country with punk and metal influences than his simple, neo-traditional approach, but with his campaign to Reinstate Hank Williams to the Grand Ole Opry and willingness to call out elements of the country establishment who threaten the preservation of its roots regardless of the outcome of his career, Hank3 is still taking the point in the fight for preservation of the Hank Williams legacy.
That is why when the Lost Notebook of Hank Williams project was announced, many Hank 3 fans, and many others familiar with Hank3′s work were wondering where his name was in the track list. If anybody was qualified to finish a work started by Hank Williams nearly 60 years ago, it would be him. In an interview with Adam Sheets on No Depression, Hank3 ended the speculation on if he had been asked to be a part of the project, and gave his thoughts on people completing his grandfather’s unfinished songs.
…I wasn’t asked and the only thing that rubs me wrong is I hear that certain people might be completing unfinished songs and that just doesn’t seem that right to me. You know, that’s the only thing I have to say about it. I have nothing against Bob Dylan, nothing against Jack White, any of those kind of people. It just seems strange for somebody to be given that opportunity to say they’ve co-written a song with Hank Williams 50 years later of whatever. You know, that thing’s been in the works for a long time…
Who knows why [he wasn't asked to be part of the project]? Maybe they think, ‘well, he’s been out there doin’ his own thing so much…When you’re dealin’ with all that business and the Bible belt and the ways certain people think, man, it gets pretty complicated. I don’t know. It’s not like some normal tribute record. There’s a lot of weird elements to this thing and it keeps comin’ up in interviews I’ve been doin’. I don’t know. ¬†I’ll just say the same thing: it seems a little strange for somebody to finish a half-finished Hank Williams song.
The grassroots petition to attempt to get country music legend Hank Williams reinstated into the Grand Ole Opry, also known as Reinstate Hank, has reached an important milestone, as the online petition has now crested the 50,000 signature mark. This does not include the scores of physical signatures collected in the official Reinstate Hank petition books, sent in by volunteers collecting signatures all around the world, and collected at concerts of Hank Williams III, aka Hank3, who started the movement.
In 1952, Hank Williams was dismissed from the Opry with the understanding that he would sober up and then return to the stage that he loved so much. Sadly, he passed away on New Year’s Day of 1953 in the back seat of his blue Cadillac and never made that momentous return. Despite being one of the most powerfully iconic figures in American music, Hank Williams has yet to be reinstated to the Opry.
Hank3 started Reinstate Hank shortly after his last performance on the Opry marking the 50th Anniversary of Hank Sr.’s death. From the stage, the youngest Hank proclaimed, “Keep one thing in mind, after all this time, maybe it’s time that we can get Hank Williams reinstated back in the Grand Ole Opry folks. That would be a dream come true for a lot of people.” When Hank3 asked the President of the Opry Steve Buchanan about the reinstatement, he was told, “We’ll never reinstate a dead guy.”
The Hank3 news continues to pour in ahead of his colossal 4 album release on September 6th that includes a double country album with a whooping 30 new songs, and two heavy metal-based albums. The 10 new country songs he debuted in Nashville last week can all be seen here courtesy of Cathy’s Reinstate Hank Bandwagon. There’s also finally a video of his Attention Deficit Domination project.¬† Two tracks from Hank3′s Metal “Cattle Callin’” project can be downloaded for free at Decibel Magazine. Word is “Fadin’ Moon” is the track Tom Waits will appear on.
(Ghost to a Ghost - Disc 1)
Gutter Town / Day By Day / Ridin The Wave / Dont Ya Wanna / Ray Lawrence Jr. / The Devils Movin In / Time To Die / Troopers Hollar / Outlaw Convention / Cunt of a bitch /
Ghost to a Ghost
(Gutter Town – Disc 2)
Goin to Gutter Town / Gutter Stomp / The Dirt Road / Musha‚Äôs / The Dream of Before / Dyin Day / I Promised / Chord of the Organ / Move Them Songs / The Low Line / I‚Äôll Be Gone / Troopers Chaos / Chaos Queen / Thunderpain / Fadin Moon / The Round / I‚Äôll Save My Tears / It‚Äôs Goin Down / With the Ship
Tim Dowler – Black Cow / Joe Goggins – Now There‚Äôs A Bull / Dan Clark – 37 Heffers /
Tim Dowler – Mad Cow / Mitch Jordan ‚Äď Branded / Tim Dowler – Square Bailor /
Jason Miller – Cuttin Hay / Mitch Jordan – Y Bar Ranch / Countin Cows / Mad Cow /
Dominic Herrera – Lot 53 / Hugh Howell – Cow Sold / Hugh Howell & Eddie Cope – Cow Mortal / Gwynn Howell – Bull Balls / Hugh Howell – Heavy Cattle / Y Bar Ranch / Black Cow /
Eddie Cope ‚Äď Longhorn / Square Bailor / Moo You / Tim Dowler – Angus of Death /
Jason Miller – Cattle Callin Lonesome Blues / Branded
Attention Deficit Domination
In The Camouflage / I Feel Sacrificed / Bend / Make A Fall / Livin Beyond Doom / Demons Mark / Aman / Get Str8 /Goats ‚ÄúN‚ÄĚ Heathans
Fans of Hank Williams III who’ve been waiting patiently for new music post his contentious, 14-year relationship with Curb Records are now able to get a glimpse of the new material via a series of show’s he’s been playing in Nashville. The youngest Hank, now going by “Hank3″ as opposed to the Curb-era “Hank III” played a surprise show at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on Lower Broadway in Nashville on Wednesday night (7-6-11), and then Friday night played a show at The Exit/In.
Video from the show can be seen below, and as more becomes available from this show and his show next Friday night at the Exit/In, it will be posted here. Word is Hank3 debuted around 10 new songs. He also featured his new heavy metal project Attention Deficit Domination, or ADD. Huge thanks goes out to Cathy’s Reinstate Hank Bandwagon and the others for getting the footage for those of us who could not be there.
Hank3 has a whopping 4 albums coming out September 6th.
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–Hank III to release 4 Records on September 6th: A double country album, a metal “Attention Defecit Domination” album, and a “3-Bar Ranch Cattle Callin’” record.
–New double country Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown album will have a total of 41 new songs.
–Guest appearances include Tom Waits, Les Claypool, Dave Sherman, Troy Medlin, and Alan King of Hellstomper.
From Hank 3.com:
LOS ANGELES, CA – THURSDAY, June 23, 2011 — With his own new label, Hank3 Records, and the sense that he has thrown off the chains holding him back creatively, Shelton Hank Williams III, aka Hank3, is coming out swinging this year with the release of four records on September 6 – that’s right – FOUR.
The unprecedented launch, in a distribution partnership with Megaforce Records (MRI), features a broad range of music that bridges more than one head-thumping genre – a familiar theme that true Hank3 fans have embraced for years. Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown, a double-album set, is a straight-shooting country collection, flavored with Hank3′s trademark hellbilly sound, and heavily weighted with Cajun influence (especially on Guttertown) and an ambient, lonesome mood – and a few very special guests.
Two more releases are Attention Deficit Domination and 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin – intensely metal-driven records on which Hank3 plays all instruments. Attention Deficit Domination is a pressure-dropping, doom rock statement that has been anticipated by his hardcore fans for years, and Cattle Callin explores a new mind-bending “Cattle Core” sound, featuring Hank3′s speed metal woven in and around actual cattle auctioneering.
All three projects were recorded at The Haunted Ranch, Hank3′s home and studio that lies on the outskirts of Nashville – a fitting place since the town has never really known what to do with this grandson of the American icon. He finally parted ways with Curb Records January 1.
“I have musical freedom. I’m able to say ‘Here’s my record’ and I don’t have to go through a million different channels just to put out a song,” he says. “It’s all me now.”
Hank3 wrote the lion’s share of the songs that appear on the 41-track Ghost to a Ghost. The players are Andy Gibson on steel guitar and banjo, who also aided in its recording, David McElfresh on fiddle and mandolin, Zach Shedd on standup bass, Daniel Mason on banjo, super-picker Johnny Hiland on guitar, Billy Contreras on fiddle, and Rory Hoffman on accordion.
Guest appearances include the mythical Tom Waits on the haunted “Fadin Moon” from Guttertown and on the Ghost to a Ghost title track, Alan King of Hellstomper, Les Claypool of Primus fame and beyond, Dave Sherman, Troy Medlin and Hank3′s dog, Trooper.
Cuts such as “Guttertown,” “Ridin The Wave,” and “The Devil’s Movin In” on Ghost to A Ghost, and “Goin to Guttertown,” “The Low Line,” and “I’ll Save My Tears” on Guttertown highlight both the excellent musicianship on the records, and Hank3′s unmistakable, confident vocals.
Attention Deficit Domination allows the listener into Hank3′s crunching, metal world of the heavy and the slow, complete with his renowned, fundamental percussion. The nine tracks hardly allow you to get up from the floor. With songs such as “I Feel Sacrificed” and the tormented “Livin Beyond Doom,” Hank3 works a ground somewhere between devastation and high theatre.
“Both A.D.D. and Cattle Callin are very intense. It’s very manic,” Hank3 says. “It’s hard to follow, even for the guys I play with. I’m playing everything on these two. It’s very complex.”
There are 23 tracks on Cattle Callin, featuring Hank3′s driving, formidable guitar attack, with instrumentation build around the auctioneering and, in some cases, his own higherregister vocal treatment laid over the top. Metal fans will notice some tongue-in-cheek humor with titles such as “Heavy Cattle” and “Angus of Death.” Also, fans of bluegrass will love the banjo-driven “Cattle Callin Lonesome Blues,” featuring Mason.
“I was raised around it [cattle auctioneering] and it’s pretty amazing how fast these guys are,” Hank3 says. “Hip-hop has looped auctioneers. Bluegrass has messed around with it a little bit. This has never been done in the heavy metal world.”
The September release of all three projects represents a new birth for Hank3, and he’s happy to have the chance.
“Megaforce Records has helped me with my vision to do something that’s never been
done before,” he says. “They’re handling my distribution, and I wanted to flood the
market and do everything different. I wanted to come out of the gate strong.
“I’m opening up the mind a little bit and bringing some different styles together.”
****UPDATE****UPDATE*****UPDATE – Cover Art Revealed
This week the music world was agog that Lady Gaga topped the charts with her latest album Born This Way selling over 1 million copies, though some are crying foul because 440,000 of those album were bought on Amazon for only .99 cents, making NPR wonder if this is the end of the album as we know it. It makes me wonder again if there is too much free music.
But I was neither shocked nor appalled that Lady Gaga made #1. What blew my mind was to see the post-contract Hank III release from Curb Records called Hillbilly Joker crest #10 of the Billboard country charts last week, and it still sits in the Top 40.
The nearly 10-year-old album was rejected by Curb for release when Hank III turned it in originally because of concerns for the commercial viability of the content, which begs the question of why it’s OK to release it now that the music is 10-years-old, and not germane to Hank III’s current sound? Curb is in a legal battle with Tim McGraw right now over his album Emotional Traffic, with the label saying the songs are too old to use. But the release of Hellbilly Joker proves that Curb has no problem publishing old songs, and a Top 10 album by a much more underground artist than Tim McGraw proves that old songs can still be commercially viable and culturally relevant.
By waiting to release Hank III’s Joker until after his contract has expired, Curb was able to squeeze an extra album out of Hank III’s deal. Is there any question that is Curb’s aim with Tim McGraw?
But how did we get to this point? How could Hillbilly Joker crack the Top 10 when Hank III himself has not been promoting it, has been avoiding any media interaction, positive or negative, in fear of drawing attention to the album, and even told his fans “Don‚Äôt buy it, but get it some other way and burn the hell out of it and give it to everyone.” And Joker has been circling around Hank III’s fan base and the underground for years as a free bootleg. So much of Hank III’s fan base already had it.
One of the reasons might be is that for the first time for a Hank III release, Curb actually promoted it, putting up displays in Hastings and other small chain and independent record stores touting it as Hank III’s “new album”. And for some inexplicable reason, the XXX movement, which claims to be for promoting and representing artists who haven’t gotten a fair shake from the mainstream, including Hank III, are touting the album on their website, against the wishes of Hank III, and in the face of a boycott of Curb Records.
In some respects it is heartening that a virtually unknown, underground artist can crack the Billboard Top 10, but he cracked the Top 10 for all the wrong reasons. If you’re reading these very words right now, you know the scoop about Hillbilly Joker, but thousands of people who simply saw the album advertised in their local record store, or for sale for $3.99 on Amazon, bought it and took the word of Curb that it was new material.
Maybe Hank III should have been more active in trying to get the word out, maybe Saving Country Music should have been, but in the current media world, the sick reality is that may have encouraged people to purchase it simply for the car crash factor. People now pay attention to music because it is bad instead of in spite of it (ie Rebecca Black & “Friday”), or just to see what all the hubub is about, or because it’s only $3.99, or .99 cents. This creates a situation where a Top 10 by Hank III, or a #1 by Lady Gaga doesn’t really help the music world judge the popularity, creative aptitude, or commercial viability of those artists.
Right now the music industry is in the equivalent of a drunken stupor, searching for the horizon in an attempt to figure which way is up and down. And if it cannot right itself, the next thing that will catch its eye is four horsemen descending from the clouds. Meanwhile Hank III must be wondering what Curb’s success with Hillbilly Joker will do to his career, and so must Tim McGraw.
Okay the only reason I cannot like this album is because the name on it. I bought this to hear Hank III not Assjack. I have an old bootleg of “This Aint Country” witch is a better version of this (with other songs). The tracks on here are more punk/metal than they were on the previous recording. It is good if it was Assjack but I didn’t buy Assjack.
Preordered and wish I didn’t. Not like Hank iii albums at all. Sounds like assjack which is not bad but not what I wanted. Oh well really don’t like the 3 mins of donkey sounds.
That’s right! I feel like the jokes on me. That’ll teach me to pre-order anything.
I love Hank 3′s Country stuff, can tolerate a little bit of Hellbilly & turn off Assjack.
Well this release sounds mostly like ASSjack. Only Hank’s Assjack fans will appreciate this material.
I’m 57 years old and mostly listen to 50′s and 60′s honkytonk. When I discovered Hank III’s country stuff, I thought I had a new favorite artist and I bought everthing he had out. Some songs sucked but most rocked. I pre-ordered this without waiting for samples to hear. Joke was on me! There is not a single track that is not awful from my perspective. There is nothing that resembles country here. Could be metal, could just be noise? All the same to me. I should know better than to buy without listening. This object lesson should keep me from doing it again.
Feeling a little ripped-off. Hillbilly Joker should have been released as an Assjack project (the III’s thrash noise band). I would never call Hank III “country” but this isn’t even close to other releases under the Hank III name. At least at his live shows, I can walk out when he switches into Assjack-mode. No such luck with this release. You got me, III. I should have listened to the sound bites before clicking the buy button. At least I got it at the Amazon $3.99 price. If you are out of ideas, why not cover Wayne Hancock and maybe even Unknown Hinson for your next Hank III release and leave this mess for Assjack fans?
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