Browsing articles tagged with " Hank Williams"
Jan
2

“Little” Jimmy Dickens Has Passed Away

January 2, 2015 - By Trigger  //  News  //  27 Comments

little-jimmyThis story has been updated.

A country music legend, and one of the oldest living country music performers from country’s golden era, is gone. “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the most venerable members of The Grand Ole Opry and a country music Hall of Famer, was admitted to the hospital on Christmas for an undisclosed illness, and passed away on Friday, January 2nd. He just turned 94 on December 19th. His last appearance on The Grand Ole Opry was on December 20th. According to the Grand Ole Opry, the 4’11″ country star died of cardiac arrest in a Nashville hospital, after previously suffering a stroke. He is survived by his wife Mona Dickens, married since 1971, and two daughters, Pamela Detert and Lisa King.

“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” shared Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President & General Manager.  “He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back. He was a one-of-kind entertainer and a great soul whose spirit will live on for years to come.”

James Cecil Dickens was born in Bolt, West Virginia, and began his musical career performing on WJLS radio while attending college. In 1948, Roy Acuff heard Dickens on the radio, and introduced him to Columbia Records and The Grand Ole Opry, and soon “Little” Jimmy was a mainstay on the radio show and releasing studio records. The “Little” came from his small stature, but Hank Williams later nicknamed him “Tater” after one of his most recognizable early hits “Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait).” Hank originally penned his song “Hey Good Lookin’” for Jimmy, but later recorded it himself, saying it was “too good” for his Opry friend.

Dickens formed his band the Country Boys in 1950, and was best known for his novelty songs, or songs that incorporated comedy such as “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed,” “I’m Little But I’m Loud,” and “May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.” He became the first country act to circumvent the globe while on tour in 1964, and in 1965 scored his first #1 hit with “May The Bird of Paradise…” Jimmy was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.

Later in life “Little” Jimmy became a fixture of The Grand Ole Opry, many times as the comic relief character of the sainted stage, and despite his loss of commercial prominence, was well-recognized and beloved even by younger audiences who knew “Little” Jimmy from appearances on awards shows, videos for Brad Paisley, and other notable cameos.

When Hank Locklin died in 2009, “Little” Jimmy became the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.

RIP “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the last living links to the Golden Era of country music.

UPDATE: A public visitation is set from 4 to 8 PM Wednesday, January 2nd at Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home & Memorial Park, located at 660 Thompson Lane in Nashville. A public “Celebration Of Life” service will is scheduled for 11:00 AM Thursday, January 3rd at the Grand Ole Opry House, 2804 Opryland Drive in Nashville. Both events are open to friends, family and the public.

Dec
29

The Biggest Stories of 2014

December 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  10 Comments

2014 was a year of great flux in country music. Where 2013 was dominated by public feuds and outcries by many country performers about the direction of the music, 2014 became the year things began to be done about many of the problems plaguing the genre. With Bro-Country as the battleground, the fight to return some balance to the country format began to make headway, and many of the initiatives launched in 2014, and many of the partnerships made and trends started may affect country music in profound ways in the coming years. Meanwhile 2014 was also a particularly violent year when it came to concerts and beyond, and saw the emergence and re-emergence of artists who will be very important to country music moving forward.

Following are the eleven biggest news stories of 2014. PLEASE NOTE: These are chosen and the order picked by two major factors 1) The importance of the story 2) The amount of traffic and interest in the story evidenced through analytical data on Saving Country Music, sometimes aggregated over multiple stories on the same subject if they exist.

Click on the orange, underlined fields to be taken to the specific stories.


#11 Legendary Artists Setting Records on Billboard’s Albums Charts

willie-nelson-band-of-brothersAs artists whose fandoms represent one of the last bastions of the public that actually buy albums, legendary performers like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and even Billy Joe Shaver set records in 2014 on Billboard’s album charts. Unfortunately new chart rules will likely put a damper on the fun for 2015, but the year that past saw older artists receiving renewed recognition.

Willie Nelson’s Band of Brothers album became his first #1 in 28 years, and his highest showing ever on Billboard’s all genre Billboard 200 chart, coming in at #6. Dolly Parton’s May release Blue Smoke gave Dolly her first Top 10 on the Billboard 200 of her entire career when she came in at #6. She also charted at #2 on the Country Albums chart. Johnny Cash’s posthumous release of his lost album Out Among The Stars also saw surprising chart success, debuting at #1 in country, and #3 on the Billboard 200. And Billy Joe Shaver charted for the first time ever, with Long In The Tooth coming in at #19 on the Country Albums chart.


#10 The Wayne Mills Autopsy Report Released

wayne-mills-2The autopsy of slain country music artist Wayne Mills was released, revealing that the star was shot in the back of the head from a far range by bar owner Chris Ferrell, who is currently awaiting trial on 2nd degree murder charges. The autopsy revealed Wayne Mills had also sustained multiple injuries as part of the incident. Wayne’s 4th and 5th ribs were broken, and he had abrasions on his forehead, temple, scalp (unassociated with the gunshot), and contusions on his chest, arms, forearms, left thigh, and right knee.

The summary of the autopsy states,

Autopsy findings are significant for an entrance gunshot wound on the posterior parietal scalp with fragment exit and injury to scalp, skull, and brain. A bullet is recovered in association with this gunshot wound. Associated injuries include scalp, subdural, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, fractures to the right frontal and parietal bones, cortical and white matter contusions of the brain, and hemorrhage throughout the wound path. Other injuries include abrasions of the left side of the forehead, left temple, posterior occipital scalp, and abdomen, left-sided rib fractures, and contusions of the lateral chest, arms, forearms, left thigh, and right knee. Evidence of therapy and tissue procurement is noted.

The cause of death is a gunshot wound of the head, and the manner of death is homicide.

Read Full Report


#9 A Drunk Toby Keith Blows Show in Indiana

toby-keith-red-solo-cupOn September 13th, Toby Keith made a tour stop at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana just outside of Indianapolis on his “Shut Up & Hold On” tour, and according to many of the concert goers, Toby was too drunk to perform, put on a terrible show, and some fans demanded their money back. A cavalcade of attendees took to Twitter and Facebook to complain about Toby Keith forgetting words, and generally stumbling through his performance.

Later video emerged of Toby Keith stumbling through a rendition of “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue.” Keith can be clearly heard heavily slurring his words and at times trailing off, until at the end of the line, “So we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our heads,” he descends into an inaudible garble, inspiring the videographer to exclaim, “Oh God!”. Toby Keith and his publicist refused to acknowledge the incident despite it becoming a big story on local Indianapolis news channels.


#8 Male Country Stars Come Out As Gay

ty-herndonCountry star Ty Herndon—known for his handful of mid 90′s hits such as “What Mattered Most,” “I Want My Goodbye Back,” and “Living In A Moment”—came out as gay on November 20th, making him the first openly gay male country music star in the mainstream in the history of the genre. Herndon says one of the things that motivated him coming out was seeing Kacey Musgraves win the CMA Song of the Year for “Follow Your Arrow,” saying that he welled up in tears at the win. “I felt so proud of my city. I hope that trend continues; I pray it does.” Ty’s decision also motivated former child country star Billy Gilman to come out as gay in a five minute video.

However one of the most interesting narratives to come out of the coming out announcements was just how much of a non-story it was. Aside from being the lead story on Entertainment Tonight and touching off mild interest on the internet, the announcements seemed to come as a shock to very few, and didn’t stimulate the type of vitriol some expected from the traditionally conservative music format. It still take a more active and mainstream male country artists coming out while he was still commercially relevant to see if country has finally moved on from its perceived gay stigma.

It was also revealed in 2014 that Brandy Clark was gay, but she took a more subtle and respectful approach to the sensitive subject.


#7 New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Announced

tom-hiddleston-hank-3It was big enough news that the long-awaited biopic covering the life of Hank Williams was coming, and that the producers were setting out to make it the definitive movie work on the Hillbilly Shakespeare based off of Colin Escott’s acclaimed biography, with fully-licensed rights to use the original music for the film from Sony ATV. But then as the cast began to be revealed, and specifically that British-born actor Tom Hiddleston would be the one portraying Hank, controversy brewed about the selection of a non-Southerner, especially with Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, who publicly criticized the casting.

Then when a video was released of Hiddleston singing some of the Hank Williams songs he’s expected to perform live in the film at a festival with mentor Rodney Crowell, the controversy started anew. Nonetheless, the movie rolled on, shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana beginning in late October and lasting for about six weeks. With a release date roughly scheduled for late 2015, and big expectations for the film as a potential Oscar contender, I Saw The Light might be one of the biggest news stories of 2015 as well.


#6 The Rise of Sturgill Simpson

sturgill-simpson-metamodern-sounds-in-country-musicThe rise of Sturgill Simpson could be classified as meteoric, and his dramatic ascent in 2014—from being picked up by Zac Brown Band as an opener, to playing Letterman and The Tonight Show, to being put at the top on many end-of-year lists and receiving a Grammy nomination—is virtually unparalleled in the modern country music world for an independent artist. His 2014 album Metamodern Sound in Country Music has captured the imaginations of many, and given them hope about the future of the country genre. And maybe most importantly, Sturgill Simpson has made fans wonder where he might be headed in 2015 and beyond.

READ: The Big Lessons of Sturgill Simpson’s Success


#5 The Return of Garth Brooks

garth-brooksWhen the best selling artist in country music ever, and the 3rd highest-selling artist of all time comes out of retirement after 15 years away, it is going to cause some reverberations, and that’s exactly what Garth Brooks did when he officially announced a new album and a world tour at a July 10th press conference in Nashville. But Garth’s return hasn’t been all triumphant and pretty. It started off with a debacle in Dublin, when five planned shows were cut down to three by local authorities, resulting in Garth Brooks canceling all of the scheduled performances for which an entire custom-made video presentation and stage setup had been procured and shipped to Ireland on 18 semi-trailers.

Subsequently the sales of Garth’s comeback album Man Against Machine started off fairly lackluster, though being the savvy marketeer Garth Brooks is, sales have stayed strong through the Christmas buying season and are beginning to accumulate into decent numbers. Meanwhile despite Garth’s first single “People Loving People” flopping on radio, he’s selling out live shows left and right, and regularly for multiple dates in the same location as people flock to take in the live Garth experience.

Garth’s return has not been without its setbacks and shortcomings, but his presence has still been felt strongly throughout the country music world, and he promises to remain an important figure in the genre moving forward.


#4 SCM Declares Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes the Worst Album Ever

florida-georgia-line-anything-goesThough maybe not a big “story” in the greater country music world, it was the most-read story on Saving Country Music in history, and by a wide margin, being liked and shared on Facebook over 75,000 times, tweeted nearly 700 times, receiving almost 500 comments, and being viewed nearly 500,000 times.

Anything Goes can slay all comers when it comes to its heretofore unattainable degree of peerless suckitude. In a word, this album is bullshit. Never before has such a refined collection of strident clichés been concentrated in one insidious mass. Never before have the lyrics to an album evidenced such narrowcasted pseudo-mindless incoherent drivel. Never before have such disparate and diseased influences been married so haphazardly in a profound vacuum of taste, and never have all of these atrocities been platooned together to be proffered to the public without someone, anyone with any bit of conscience and in a position of power putting a stop to this poisoning of the listening public.

“Not to get all old man on your ass, but most of the time I don’t even understand what the hell these dudes are saying. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have their own language, partial to the most grammatically-challenged and stupefying vocabulary lurking in the dankest sewers of the English dialect, but not residing firmly in any specific one of them so no truly proper translation can be obtained. It’s like Pig Latin for douchewads—understood by them and them only. And only with the perfect deficiency of brain cells will their concoction of Ebonics, metrosexual douche speak, and stagnant gene pool rural jargon become anything resembling coherent to the human ear.”

Read Full Review


#3 Violence, Arrests, Medical Issues, and Death at Country Music Concerts

pittsburgh-trash-luke-bryan-5The summer of 2014 at country music’s mainstream concerts became one big rolling narrative about fights, arrests, hospitalizations, rape, stabbings, and even two deaths, all which occurred in a few short months during the height of country’s outdoor concert season. It almost felt like the media was embellishing all the violence with the way each week was punctuated with a new headline. “55 People Were Arrested, and 22 Hospitalized” in what local authorities characterized as a “mass casualty” event at a Keith Urban concert in Massachusetts on July 26th. Once again an annual event in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field resulted in huge amounts of trash, as well as many arrests and hospitalizations, even though the event the previous year had drawn large amounts of negative media coverage for similar problems.

Three people were stabbed at We Fest in Minnesota, a woman was gang raped at Michigan’s Faster Horses Festival, a drunk driver ran over a police officer at a Jason Aldean concert in Hartford, and amongst a myriad of other disturbing reports at country concerts, a man was found dead in a dumpster after Jason Aldean’s Cleveland concert, thought to be the cause of over intoxication, and another man died at a Hank Jr. concert after he was shoved and his head hit the concrete, though it was later determined it was likely by accident and not foul play.

Meanwhile the artists were not immune from injury themselves. Luke Bryan had three stage falls in 2014, Garth Brooks had two, Tim McGraw violently slapped a woman who ripped off a portion of his jeans, and Dustin Lynch got hit in the face with a full can of beer. 2014 was eventful at country concerts to say the least, making many wonder if it is the depravity in the music leading to such behavior. Without question 2015 will be one to watch to see if the country concert issues improve, or worsen.


#2 NASH Icon & The Impending Country Radio Format Split

nash-iconWho would have ever dreamed, even at the beginning of 2014, that we could be faced with a scenario where the radio format for country music would be splitting in two, and this action would see the return of many of the older names and songs so unceremoniously shuffled to the side in the mainstream format in recent years? Heretofore the trend has been for country music to become more young, and more current every year, shoving older artists and music aside, even when they continue to prove their commercial viability. Research from radio analysts had been telling country radio for years they were shooting themselves in the foot by abandoning more classic-sounding music, and finally in 2014, they began to listen.

Two huge entities, not traditionally considered friends of traditional country music in Cumulus Media and Big Machine Records, joined forces to launch NASH Icon—a new radio format that includes older country music alongside newer music, and a record label that is looking to add new life to the careers of forgotten artists. Meanwhile simply the idea of NASH Icon stimulated other radio stations to adopt a more “classic” country format. Garth-FM (later The Hawk) was launched, and so was Hank FM, and many other country stations oriented towards older country music, fueling speculation that the movement will eventually stimulate a split of the country format. Furthermore, the NASH Icon affiliate in Nashville is consistently beating its mainstream competitors, including Bobby Bones’ home of WSIX.

Now Cumulus is even planning to add a NASH Classics format. Though none of these stations might be the cup of tea for the most hardened of traditional country listeners, it is a step in the right direction, and breeding a renewed love in more classic-sounding country music we haven’t seen in years. The impending radio format split might very well be the biggest development in the effort to save country music in many years.


#1 The Rise and Fall of Bro-Country

bro-country-rip2014 started off with so-called “Bro-Country” as all the rage in popular country music, and ended with Bro-Country still somewhat relevant, but heavily on the wane and declining to a whimper while an anti Bro-Country tune in the form of Maddie & Tae’s “Girl In A Country Song” shattered all manner of records by becoming a #1 hit on country radio.

In late September, Saving Country Music wrote an obituary for Bro-Country, saying in part,

“On Monday, September 22nd, the subset of American country music known to many by its nickname ‘Bro-Country,’ died at its home in Nashville, TN. It was three-years-old. Bro-Country is survived by its family and close friends, including Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Cole Swindell, Chase Rice, Thomas Rhett, Dallas Davidson, and dozens of other lesser-known country music artists and songwriters. Though the specific cause of death has yet to be ruled on by the local medical examiner, preliminary findings appear to show that Bro-Country had been exhaustively over-utilized over the last few months and years until it finally passed away from overexposure. Bro-Country’s death is definitely being considered the result of ‘foul play.’”

Read Full Bro-Country Obituary

 

Dec
28

UPDATED “Little” Jimmy Dickens in Critical Condition

December 28, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  42 Comments

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***UPDATE: “Little” Jimmy Dickens Has Passed Away

A country music legend, and one of the oldest living country music performers from country’s golden era is in critical condition in a Nashville area hospital. “Little” Jimmy Dickens, one of the most venerable members of The Grand Ole Opry and a country music Hall of Famer, was admitted to the hospital on Christmas for an undisclosed illness. He just turned 94-years-old on December 19th, and performed on December 20th as part of the Opry’s birthday celebration on his behalf.

“Little” Jimmy’s wife, his family, and The Grand Ole Opry are asking for prayers for the ailing artist, who symbolizes one of the very last living links to country music’s legendary past. Dickens became a Grand Ole Opry member in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. When Hank Locklin died in 2009, “Little” Jimmy became the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry, and still regularly appears on the program. He was born in Bolt, WV in 1920, and was nicknamed “Tater” by Hank Williams for his short, 4′ 11″ stature.

Cards and well wishes can be sent to “Little” Jimmy Dickens via the Grand Ole Opry at the address below. Saving Country Music sends its thoughts and prayers out to the ailing star.

Jimmy Dickens
c/o Grand Ole Opry House
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214
 
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***UPDATE (12-31) - “Little” Jimmy Dickens is improving according to Grand Ole Opry general manager Pete Fisher. “Each day brings noticeable improvements, and his doctors seem very pleased with the progress he is making,” Fisher says. “I, along with his family, are grateful to all for your thoughts and prayers.”

Dec
15

Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Wraps Filming in Shreveport

December 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  3 Comments

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The highly-anticipated biopic movie on the life of Hank Williams called I Saw The Light wrapped production in Shreveport, Louisiana on Friday (12-12), and now the film will go to editing and get ready for a planned release of late 2015. Based off of the biography from Colin Escott and starring British-born actor Tom Hiddleston as Hank, I Saw The Light is being produced and directed by Marc Abraham and has become a project of great intrigue amongst country music fans.

“They had a crew of 150 that worked on the project, and 40 production days,” says Arlene Acree of Film Shreveport Bossier who looks to promote the twin cities as a movie filming destination. “As far as economic impact, they booked 4,500 rooms for the duration. The project location wise, because we doubled for so many places, had 55 actual film locations total, which is a lot for a feature film. The ease of getting around the Shreveport/ Bossier City area is very good because of our infrastructure, so they would do maybe two to three locations a day, and it was a fast-moving project because of their schedule. It’s a biopic feature, so there’s a lot to cover in 40 days.” 

Even though the film’s story takes Hank Williams from Nashville to Shreveport to New York City, the greater Shreveport / Bossier City area became the location for it all.

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Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams

“We doubled for Nashville, Montgomery, AL, Shreveport as Shreveport obviously, and New York City,” says Arlene Acree. “We had one day shooting in downtown where we had 1940′s yellow cabs dubbing for New York. That was one thing that was really cool to see. The vintage movies are a lot of fun. They dress the time period and have the period cars. Our downtown has been described as a huge back lot.”

Arlene says I Saw The Light Was not the biggest film to ever shoot in Shreveport, but it might be the most important and welcomed.

“We’ve had bigger project that were more budget and had more shooting days. But this one was very special in the fact that everyone was very well-receiving. If they were shooting in their home, they were very excited about it because of the nature of the film. Just to know this is the biopic feature of Hank Sr.’s life, I think that made it very very special. Overall the community really embraced—they all of our projects—but this one was kind of dear to our heart because of our connection with Hank Williams Sr. here, of course with ‘The Louisiana Hayride’ and he lived here as well for a short time.”

Though information and pictures from the shooting of the film have been very few and far between, Tom Hiddleston did talk to one local television station reporter and posed for a shot while wearing period Hank Williams garb during the production. Hiddleston complimented Shreveport and the crew.

READ: First Images of Hiddleston as Hank Williams from “I Saw The Light”

The casting of Tom Hiddleston to play Hank Williams has been a controversial one in some sectors. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, has been a vocal opponent of the casting, saying that it would take an American to understand the unique the role of playing country music’s first superstar. Executive music producer for the film and Hiddleston’s personal vocal coach Rodney Crowell has defended Hiddleston, saying he’s “the right actor for the job.”

“This project has already created a lot of buzz,” says Arlene Acree. “I can’t wait to see the movie. It’s going to be very exciting.”

Nov
24

Curb to Release Hank III Album “Take As Needed For Pain”

November 24, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  14 Comments

That’s right, the Curb Records madness continues, and continues to reach for comical, if not maniacal heights.

Apparently Curb Records is readying the release of a new Hank III (not ‘Hank3′ as he goes by now) album called Take As Needed For Pain, scheduled to be made available to the public on April 14th, 2015. Though the album is being credited at the moment to Hank III, early incarnations of this release had it denoted as “Assjack II.” Assjack is the name of Hank3′s early heavy metal project that released a self-titled album with Curb in 2009. The song “Take As Needed For Pain” is a cover song from the metal band Eyehategod that Hank3 turned into a 10-minute epic for the tribute album For The Sick: A Tribute to Eyehategod released in 2007 and recorded under the name “The Unholy 3″ which is the name of one of Hank3′s side projects.

hank-3Hank3 also recorded another Eyehategod song for the tribute called “Torn Between Suicide and Breakfast” that could be a pretty safe bet for making the track list of the new album, along with whatever other Assjack or metal songs Curb somehow wrangled out of Hank3 during his years at the label. Why Curb is deciding to go with the Hank III name instead of Assjack might be about marketing, or maybe some country songs will be included on the album as well. One of the issues with some of Curb’s post-contract releases from Hank3 is they haven’t warned consumers they’re buying metal albums instead of country, causing confusion and anger from some fans. It’s pretty safe to say that no matter what finds itself on the track list, it will be music released previously and/or that is already out there on YouTube or other locations. Hank3′s usual response to his fans on these post-contract Curb releases is to “Burn it, and give it away.”

Hank3 entered into a six album contract with Curb in the late 90′s. The Nashville-based label was able to stretch Hank3′s album count to seven by releasing Hillbilly Joker in 2011; a “hellbilly” 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 six-album contract to eight. Ramblin’ Man released in April of this year—another album of previously-released material cobbled together—made it nine. Hank3 also had agreed to the release of one heavy metal album as part of his Curb deal. Take As Needed For Pain would now bring that count to two.

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The grandson of Hank Williams is not the only artist having to shake their head as Curb continues to regurgitate material to try and squeeze as much money out of their name as possible while misleading the public. Tim McGraw has been locked in a public battle with Curb for years, and now has another reason to be angered as the record label is getting ready to release his 10th compilation/Greatest Hits album. That’s right, ten of them. That’s only one less than the total amount of studio albums Curb released during McGraw’s entire career on the label.

tim-mcgrawTim McGraw “The Hits Live” is being prepped for release on January 27th by Curb. This goes along with Greatest Hits Volumes 1, 2, and 3, a Collector’s Edition Greatest Hits, a Limited Edition Greatest Hits, A Limited Edition Greatest Hits Volume 1, 2, 3, Number One Hits, Tim McGraw & Friends (duets), and Love Story (his biggest love songs).

In 2010, Saving Country Music published an article mocking Curb for imitating art by releasing seven Greatest Hits albums from McGraw. Subsequently, Curb has released just one studio album, and three additional Greatest Hits compilations. Tim McGraw won a protracted court battle with Curb in 2012 and was finally released from his contract. He now calls Big Machine Records home. Curb tried to delay the release of Tim’s final album under the label called Emotional Traffic to indefinitely keep him under contract.

More Greatest Hits releases are also on the way from previous and current Curb artists. LeAnn Rimes has already had two Greatest Hits releases just in 2014—an album of her Greatest Hits Remixes, and a two-CD Limited Edition Greatest Hits. Now Curb has scheduled an All-Time Greatest Hits release on February 3rd. Rodney Atkins also has a Greatest Hits release upcoming, and Hank Williams Jr. will see the release of previously-released material in a Hank Jr. Sings Hank Sr. compilation.

Curb Records continues to regurgitate material from previous artists on their label as they lose roster names left and right, and carry the reputation as one of the worst labels in town. Aside from some recent success with Lee Brice, a marketable name in Rodney Atkins, and a promising young star in Mo Pitney, the label continues to struggle to find new material to release, and instead insists on misleading consumers with repackaged albums.

READ: The Official Mike Curb Rap Sheet of Transgressions

Nov
7

First Images of Hiddleston as Hank Williams from “I Saw The Light”

November 7, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  56 Comments

i-saw-the-light-gas-stationDirector Marc Abraham, Tom Barnett as Gas Station Attendant, Richard L. Jackson as Gas Station Owner/ Justice of the Peace, Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Williams, and Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. From Richard L. Jackson Facebook page.

The Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light is currently shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we’re beginning to get the first glimpses of the set and some of the actors in their costumes, while details of some of the specific cast members continue to emerge.

Word has come down that actor Fred Parker Jr., known for his work on the horror film The Eves as well as numerous other television and movie roles has been cast to play country music legend Faron Young. Faron was a songwriter and a performer, a friend of Hank’s, and the love interest of Billie Jean Eshliman, who Faron introduced to Hank, and eventually became Hank’s second wife and widow. The part of Billie Jean has been cast to Maddie Hasson. Faron Young was born in Shreveport, and started out as a pop singer. But when he saw Hank Williams receive nine encores on The Louisiana Hayride, he decided to switch to country. Faron committed suicide in 1996.

Actor Casey Bond, a baseball player turned actor known for his role in Moneyball, will be playing fiddle player Jerry Rivers—one of the most important figures in Hank’s Drifting Cowboy Band. Rivers played on virtually all of Hank’s recordings after 1950, and was a close personal friend of Hank’s, going on hunting trips with the singer, and even acting as his personal manager for a while. Eventually Hank’s drinking drove Jerry Rivers from Hank’s band, but he continued to play with Hank right up to his death. Rivers was scheduled to play with Hank on the New Years show in 1953 Hank never made it to, dying en route. Just like Hank, Rivers got caught up in a Winter storm and never made it to the show.

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Tom Hiddleston as Hank, and reporter Devon Patton.

Additionally a camera crew from KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport was allowed on the I Saw The Light set and spoke briefly with Tom Hiddleston. Anchor Devon Patton took his picture with Hiddleston, giving us the best glimpse of Hiddleston as Hank in period clothing.

The parts of Fred Rose and Hank’s mom were also cast recently. I Saw The Light is being produced and directed by Marc Abraham, who also adapted the screenplay from Colin Escott’s Hank Williams biography. The movie is set to be released in 2015.

Hank Williams III, the grandson of Hank Williams, has been a vocal opponent of the pick of the British-born Tom Hiddleston to play his grandfather. Last week, actor Austin Haley who is cast to play a character “Dwayne” was critical of Hank3, saying, “As far as Hank3 is concerned. Hell I wouldn’t even got to him for advice on music much less on who should make a movie.

Video from KTBS:

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Photo via Devon Patton

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Nov
5

Fred Rose & Hank Williams’ Mom Cast in “I Saw The Light” Biopic

November 5, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  13 Comments

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Two of the last remaining important pieces in the cast of the upcoming biopic on the life of Hank Williams entitled I Saw The Light have been revealed.

cherry-jonesCherry Jones, best known for her Emmy-winning performance as a female President in the Fox series 24, and a five-time Tony award nominee for her work in stage performances on Broadway like The Heiress and Doubt, has been cast as Jessie Lillybelle “Lillie” Skipper Williams, otherwise known as Hank’s mother. Lillie ran a boarding house where Hank Williams grew up, which some accounts have being more of a brothel. With Hank’s father gone often working for the railroad company, and then being injured on the job and permanently hospitalized, Lillie Williams was Hank’s primary parental influence. She also encouraged Hank’s early musical development, giving meals to street performer Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne in exchange for guitar lessons.

Bradley-WhitfordBradley Whitford, known for his work on The West Wing will be playing songwriter and music publisher Fred Rose. Fred was inducted into the inaugural class of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 along with Hank Williams, and wrote or co-wrote some of Hank’s most memorable songs, including “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive,” “Settin’ The Woods on Fire,” “Kaw-Liga,” and “Crazy Heart.” Fred Rose founded the famous Acuff/Rose publishing company with performer Roy Acuff, and set the standard for music publishing that is still in practice today. Rose was also a mentor and friend of Hank Williams, and that relationship will undoubtedly be seminal to the I Saw The Light script.

Cherry Jones and Bradley Whitford will be joining British actor Tom Hiddleston playing Hank Williams in the film, Elizabeth Olsen playing Audrey Williams, Maddie Hasson as Billie Jean Horton, and four more actors announced in important roles.

Hank Williams III, the grandson of Hank Williams, has been a vocal opponent of the pick of the British-born Tom Hiddleston to play his grandfather. Last week, actor Austin Haley who is cast to play a character “Dwayne” was critical of Hank3, saying, “As far as Hank3 is concerned. Hell I wouldn’t even got to him for advice on music much less on who should make a movie.

I Saw The Light is being produced and directed by Marc Abraham, who also adapted the screenplay from Colin Escott’s Hank Williams biography. The movie is currently shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is set to be released in 2015.

Oct
31

Halloween Review: Those Poor Bastards’ “Vicious Losers”

October 31, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  14 Comments

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Less country music Christmas albums, and more country music Halloween albums I say. And if a cottage industry happened to crop up for spooky country music every October, it would stand to reason Madison, Wisconsin’s Those Poor Bastards would have the market cornered. Beware interlopers and carpetbaggers, these bastards have been purveyors of their self-described “Country Doom” for over a decade, dealing out an unlucky 13 albums to date, including their latest dreadful offering Vicious Losers freshly-exhumed just this Halloween month. And that doesn’t include the more ghost and goblin-oriented side project of Those Poor Bastard’s principal member Lonesome Wyatt called The Holy Spooks, whose multiple releases include Ghost Ballads and Halloween is Here released last year.

But Those Poor Bastards is not some Disney version of “H E double hockey stick” horror, and this is not some seasonal pursuit. Lonesome Wyatt and The Minister have become the kings of Gothic country over their terrible tenure, and are made to be imbibed in year round. The duo’s dark and artistic oriented music draws directly from country music’s formative years and the exploration of sin, guilt, depravity, and death that were very much at the heart of these tunes—I’m speaking of artists like The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers, and even Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, where sin and redemption weren’t polar opposites, but separated by a thin membrane that the forces of good and evil were constantly at war trying to pull you across. Then all of this was cast in a mood of desperation from the death, hopelessness, and chronic poverty that gripped country music’s Appalachian homeland in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, and still lingers throughout the hills and hollers of that region today.

Imagine condensing the dark sentiments from all of these early country pioneers together, and adding a few new methods of composition and sound from more modern apparitions such as Tom Waits and Nick Cave, and you have a sound that however niche it might be, has cast a wide net of loyal parishioners all over the world who collect Those Poor Bastards’ short run colored vinyl projects and pour over their artistically-oriented music as fine art, no matter how hauntingly it may screech and moan to get its dreadful point across.

those-poor-bastards-vicious-losersPart of the pleasure in Those Poor Bastards is to try and glean the moral and motivations of their music. As disturbed as it clearly presents itself from song one, there is also a profound sense of morality, economic justice, and concern for the lost souls of modern men confined to the rat race that punctuates any Those Poor Bastards’ effort. But don’t think that recuses them from delving into the temptations of sin or the unsettled recesses of the brain where where silent killers and psychopaths in all of us await. Whether you’re truly disturbed, or simply love to immerse yourself in that dark side of humanity inherent in us all by design, Those Poor Bastards can be a vessel for your journey.

Those Poor Bastards have already amassed a fine catalog that defines Gothic country, including songs like “Behold Black Sheep,” “With Hell So Near,” “Crooked Man,” “The Dust Storm,” their cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line,” and “Pills I Took” once covered by Hank Williams III. Vicious Losers now adds another 13 songs to their repertoire, ranging from the raging, serrated and harsh “I Am Lost” opening track, to the simple clawhammer banjo driven “Strange Dark Night,” or the quieted 40-seconds of “Big Trees.”

Words and textures are one in the same with Those Poor Bastards, and one thing Lonesome Wyatt can never get enough credit for is his prowess as a vocalist that is virtually unparalleled this side of Tom Waits in conveying mood and character with such range. Vicious Losers has a couple of songs where Lonesome Wyatt puts on a clinic, shape-shifting between his evil growl, his bass-heavy belly voice, and a clear and eerily beautiful high range whose total breadth on the tone scale would best most any of mainstream country’s top singers. The song “Lonely Man” is a perfect example of this.

“Give Me Drugs” is a cautionary tale to America’s pill problem, but to balance becoming too preachy, it is followed up by the unhinged and ribald “Dolled Up.” Vicious Losers ends with an 11-minute noise opus called “Today I Saw My Funeral;” a song that could have been written by The Carter Family, beginning as a primitive country ballad whose refrain then floats in and out as the song descends into an extended foray of disturbed noises. Another hallmark of Those Poor Bastards is Lonesome Wyatt’s ear for the everyday sounds of life that trigger dark memories. This song on loop would be the perfect ambient noise for your neighborhood’s haunted house.

On second thought, I don’t know that I want all of the country artists who are inclined to make Christmas records deciding instead to dip their toes in the Gothic country realm. Those Poor Bastards have it covered just fine.

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Purchase Vicious Losers from Those Poor Bastards

Preview & Purchase Tracks from Amazon

Oct
30

Actor Austin Haley Offers “I Saw The Light” Update – Criticizes Hank3

October 30, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  39 Comments

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The I Saw The Light biopic on the life of Hank Williams is currently being shot in and around Shreveport, Louisiana, and the town is all abuzz from numerous scenes being filmed at local landmarks and road closures diverting traffic from areas the production company has set up shop for the day. Information and pictures from the set have been slow in coming for curious fans hoping to get a glimpse of what they might expect from the movie that is set to be released some time in 2015, but one of the actors, Austin Haley, who is playing “Dwayne” in the film has offered his initial take on how the movie is going, and how the film’s director Marc Abraham, and lead Tom Hiddleston (playing Hank) are faring with the task.

austin-haley“This production is operating like a well oiled machine. From bottom to top,” Haley said on IMDb. “Marc Abraham is an incredible producer/director. His DP has been nominated for 2 academy awards and is about to get a lifetime achievement award. The rest of the cast and crew are very experienced and gracious. I’m not sure how exactly this will end up, borrowing no tragedy striking the set. But this is Marc Abraham’s time to shine. He has produced/directed over 40 films. This project will have legs (long lanky Hiddleston legs) and may even be considered for a nomination from the academy. Just seems that way from the feel of the set. Working on a special project.”

Austin Haley appeared on the Soap Opera Series’ Another World from 1995-1996, and played Zack Austin on One Life to Live from 1997 to 2000. He also appeared in the movies The Kings of Brooklyn (2004) and Chasing the White Dragon (2008). Haley also offered his assessment of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams—a pick that has caused some controversy, especially with Hank’s grandson Hank Williams III, or Hank3.

“Tom came into the make trailer, sat and played for us. The hair on the back of my neck stood up (which was good for stylist she could cut it then)… As far as Hank3 is concerned. Hell I wouldn’t even got to him for advice on music much less on who should make a movie. Marc Abraham is in Film Making not ‘wet dream’ making. McConaughey is a great actor. But no one would sit in the theatre thinking ‘hey that is Hank Sr.’. You couldn’t separate the actor from the story. I guess that’s what makes Marc a great story teller. He got Tom on his way up. In 5 years couldn’t get Tom. He will be to big too. Plus McConaughey is too old.”

hank-3Hank3 has openly criticized the casting of the British-born Tom Hiddleston for the Hank Williams role, believing an American would be more fit for the position. Though he initially proffered up Mathew McConaughey as a possible replacement, he has since explained it was simply an example of a Southern-born American who may be a better fit, not a specific suggestion. Hank3 says he was never contacted by the production company to offer any suggestions or guidance to the movie.

“There’s two Hank Williams walking this earth right now,” Hank3 said to Saving Country Music in September, referring to himself and his father Hank Williams Jr.—neither of which were consulted on the film. Americana artist Rodney Crowell has been working as the primary music consultant to the movie and Tom Hiddleston on how to pull off the role of Hank.

“For some reason, this is really bothering me,” continues Hank3. “I don’t know why. I don’t have anything to lose or gain from it. But for the approach that is happening with this movie is just not sitting right with me. And it’s not just me. There’s a lot of people I talk to out there that just don’t understand it. And this isn’t about Tom [Hiddleston]. This is about the choice. I’m not out to diss his acting or anything like that… I guess I’m so vocal about it because I care, and I want to see the best movie made.”

Austin Haley went on to praise all the actors working on the movie, including the leading ladies Maddie Hasson playing Billie Jean, and Elizabeth Olsen playing Audrey Williams. “And all the supporting Actresses and Actors… All generous and professional… An army is only as good as its General. Marc Abraham is a dam fine leader and brings an attitude of pin point vision and kindness. Which translates to the rest of this unit.”

Oct
19

Jesus Drop Kicks Paul Craft (Through The Goalposts of Life)

October 19, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  6 Comments

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You press most any theologian, and they will expound upon the theory that God has the most profound sense of humor … if you just know where to look for it. Whether this was in play when country music songwriter Paul Craft decided to write the song “Drop Kick Me Jesus (Through The Goalposts Of Life),” whether it was more centered upon a social commentary about the state of religion in America where the most holy of days is decidedly overrun by the dominance of the National Football League, or whether the song was meant to mean different things to different people—like most great songs are—it tickled the funny bone and said something profound that could have never been communicated through any other medium than humor.

Time Magazine once said that the song “sounds like a writing assignment by an eighth-grader who has just learned about metaphors.” But what do those pointy-nosed intellectuals really know about country music, and the legacy of wry humor that was personified in artists like Roger Miller, John Hartford, and Shel Silverstein? Don’t they know Johnny Cash’s biggest hit of all time was “A Boy Named Sue”? That song won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1970. “Drop Kick Me Jesus” was nominated for a Grammy seven years later when country music performer Bobby Bare released it in 1976. Only seems right for the world’s only Christian football waltz.

Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goalposts of life 
End over end, neither left nor the right
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goalposts of life

Make me, oh, make me, Lord, more than I am
Make me a piece in your master game plan
Free from the earthly temptations below
I’ve got the will, Lord, if you got the toe.

Songwriter Paul Craft might be perturbed by the idea of a novelty song defining his career, or perhaps he’d laugh. But his contributions to country music go much farther than you average songwriter’s field goal range. Just this week, Saving Country Music published a list of The Greatest Hank Williams Tribute Songs of All Time, and right near the top was Paul Craft’s “Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life,” recorded by Moe Bandy. Craft scored a #1 in 1991 by way of Mark Chesnutt’s recording of “Brother Jukebox.” And another country music artist known for his comedic leanings, Ray Stevens, cut Craft’s humorous song “It’s Me Again, Margaret” in 1984.

Paul Craft also penned a number of famous bluegrass songs, and he wrote nearly all of his songs by himself. In the liner notes of one of his own albums, Craft once asserted, “Back then you didn’t need to tell anyone you wrote a song ‘by yourself.’ This was before the current Nashville practice of ‘co-writing.’ Some of the reasons for this activity I can only guess at. But I can’t help feeling that if Ernest Hemingway had been forced to ‘co-write’ ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ it wouldn’t be the same book and that would be a shame.”

Any great humorist will tell you that one of the vital keys to the craft is timing. And timing is many times where you can spy the work of the divine. In the 4th quarter of of Paul Craft’s life, with the final seconds ticking down and the game on the line, the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame lined up for a field goal, split the uprights, an made Paul Craft a winner when they inducted him into the institution on October 6th, 2014. Less than two weeks later, on Saturday, 10-18, when much of America was sitting on their couches enjoying the college version of the American pastime, Paul Craft quietly passed away in Nashville after slowly failing health over the past few years. He was 76-years-old.

Paul Craft was not the household name some of his songs made of more famous performers, but both his humor and his heartfelt sentiments remain both endowed in the hearts of listeners, and as relevant (and grin-inducing) as ever.

A lowly bench warmer I’m contented to be
Until the time when you have need of me
The flash on the big scoreboard signs from on high
The big Super Bowl way up in the sky

Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goalposts of life…

Oct
16

Four More Roles Cast in Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic

October 16, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  2 Comments

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The complete cast of the upcoming I Saw The Light Hank Williams biopic is beginning to take shape as the movie is set to begin filming in Louisiana this week.

Joining Tom Hiddleston playing Hank Williams, Elizabeth Olsen playing Audrey Williams, and Maddie Hasson as Billie Jean Horton, are four more actors playing important roles, announced yesterday by The Hollywood Reporter.

David Krumholtz, who starred previously in the TV show Numb3rs and currently appears on The Judge will be playing the role of James Dolan. Dolan is a New York journalist who finds himself in a contentious situation with Hank amidst an interview with the country superstar. James DuMont will play Mayor WB Nolan, who after booking Hank for a small town gig, has to try and get Hank to perform despite the country performer being heavily inebriated. DuMont was in the recent James Brown biopic Get On Up, and also appeared in Dallas Buyers Club.

Wrenn Schmidt will play Bobbie Jett, one of Hank’s numerous mistresses, and the mother of Hank’s daughter out of wedlock, Jett Williams, who was born five days after Hank Williams passed away. Schmidt has appeared recently in the TV series’ Boardwalk Empire and The Americans. And also announced as part of the cast is Josh Pais who will play Dore Schary, an MGM production president who attempts to convince Hank to become a movie star. Pais has appeared in The Good Wife and Law & Order: SVU.

I Saw The Light is based off the biography of Hank Williams by Colin Escott, and is being directed and co-produced by Marc Abraham, who also wrote the screenplay.

The casting of Tom Hiddleston to play Hank Williams has been a controversial one in some sectors. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, has been a vocal opponent of the casting, saying that it would take an American to understand the unique the role of playing country music’s first superstar. Executive music producer for the film and Hiddleston’s personal vocal coach Rodney Crowell has defended Hiddleston, saying he’s “the right actor for the job.”

Oct
15

The Greatest Hank Williams Tribute Songs of All Time

October 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  42 Comments

hank-williamsHank Williams was the greatest country music singer and songwriter to ever walk the face of the Earth. And if you don’t believe that, just listen to how his fellow country music performers feel about his contributions to the music. Here is a list of the greatest Hank Williams tribute songs of all time.

Ground Rules:

  1. The song has to be a true Hank tribute from stem to stern, not just mention Hank.
  2. The song has to be mostly about Hank, meaning no “Hank & Lefty” because that’s about both men equally (but still a good song).
  3. This is not meant to be an absolute unabridged and unequivocally complete master list of Hank tributes without one single omission. If you see a worthy Hank tribute not mentioned, by all means, please share, because that is the point of this, NOT to be a “Where’s Waldo?” exercise where people go combing through looking for missing songs so you can navigate to the comments and bust my chops with comments that start with “You forgot…” and end with “…this site is completely illegitimate” just because I forgot to mention some unpublished Hank tribute from a local singer in your town. The point is to hopefully to be exposed to a few new songs that will entertain you as a Hank fan.
  4. No order to these songs is intended or implied. Because this could stretch on forever, I tried to prioritize certain songs. But they are all great Hank tributes.

“Hank Williams’ Ghost” – Darrell Scott

Off of Darrell Scott’s 2006 album Invisible Man, the song went on to be nominated for the 2007 Song of the Year by the Americana Music Awards. Excellent video as well with many Hank Williams landmarks featured.


“Hank’s Cadillac” – Ashley Monroe

Written by Ashley Monroe at the tender age of 17, “Hank’s Cadillac” is Ashley attesting she would have figured out a way to keep Hank alive if she had been on his now famous “Last Ride.”


“If He Came Back Again” – The Highwaymen

Though this song was recorded to be included on the final Highwaymen album The Road Goes On Forever, it didn’t make the final cut initially. However when the album was re-issued, it was finally released, and today it remains one of the album’s most popular tracks and a beautiful tribute, despite the somewhat wonky harmonies in the chorus by the cantankerous Highwaymen. Written by Barry Alfonso and Craig Bickhardt.


“Talkin’ To Hank” – Mark Chesnutt

“I saw a shotgun and a guitar and a six-pack of beer
A sign on the front door said ‘Guess, who lives here’
An old red bone hound that looked older than time
And an old man that’s sure he was only twenty-nine”

Released in 1992, the original album version featured George Jones on guest vocals. Written by Bobby Harden.


“Long White Cadillac” – Dwight Yoakam & Dave Alvin

Originally written by Dave Alvin of The Blasters, while Dwight Yoakam was on tour opening for the band early in his career, he heard the song and recorded it himself in 1989.


“Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life” – Moe Bandy

The title track off of Moe Bandy’s 1976 album, it was written by Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Paul Craft. One of the most recognizable Hank tributes.


“The Ride” – David Allan Coe

Arguably the most chilling tribute to Hank, co-writer Gary Gentry once told Billboard, “There’s a mysterious magic connected with this song that spells cold chills, leading me to believe that it was meant to be and that David Allan Coe was meant to record it.” He swears when he went to look up the date of when Hank Williams died while writing the song, he opened the book to the exact page where the date was found, and that once when performing the song at the Grand Ole Opry House, as soon as he said the name “Hank” in the last verse, the lights and power went out in the building. “The Ride” was also written by J.B. Detterline Jr., and was released by David Allan Coe in February of 1983. It is also one of the most commercially-successful Hank tributes, coming in at #4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.


“Midnight in Montgomery” – Alan Jackson

Another commercially-successful Hank tribute hit, it tells the story of Alan Jackson visiting the graves of Hank before headlining a New Years Eve show and seeing Hank’s ghost. The song hit #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and Jackson co-wrote the song with Don Sampson. “Midnight in Montgomery” also had a successful video that won the CMA Video of the Year in 1992.


*”The Life Story of Hank Williams” – Hawkshaw Hawkins

As much as a storyteller song as a tribute, it features Hawkshaw Hawkins talking in segments about Hank’s life. It was released in February of 1953, and co-written by Louie Innis. Hankshaw Hawkins would die unexpectedly himself in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline on March 5th, 1963.


 “The Night Hank Williams Came To Town” – Johnny Cash w/ Waylon Jennings

From 1987′s Johnny Cash Is Coming To Town album produced by Jack Clement.


“The Death of Hank Williams” – Jack Cardwell

This was the very first Hank Williams tribute song ever written. As Hank fan and traditional country performer Joey Allcorn explained to Saving Country Music surrounding the release of his album Midnight: The Death of Hank Williams:

To me it was an interesting song because it was the very first Hank Williams tribute. Nowadays, doing a Hank Williams tribute is just sort of par for the course. This particular song that we’re centering the project around, it just captures a very basic feeling that happens after some sort of tragic event. The lyrics that are on display [in the museum] tell a similar story, because it was a woman in Montgomery who heard the words on the radio as a child, and they meant so much to her that she wrote them down. If you go to the Hank museum, they’re still sitting there by Hank’s Cadillac. It’s the handwritten lyrics of this little girl wrote after hearing this song, and when she was upset or sad.

Joey Allcorn performing:


“If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” – Kris Kristofferson

Off of Kristofferson’s 1976 Monument recording Surreal Thing, the song was also included on Hank Williams Jr.’s album Habits Old & New in 1980. The song finds Kris Kristofferson in rare form, with a bowed out chest making bold proclamations.


“The Conversation” – Hank Williams Jr. & Waylon Jennings

One of the most unique collaborations in country music history with Ol’ Hank as the conversation piece, it was was released on Hank Jr.’s 1979 album Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound album first, but showed up on Waylon’s Waylon & Company a few years later. “The Conversation”—written by Waylon, Jr., and Waylon’s long-time drummer Ritchie Albright, was one of the very first country music songs to feature a video. It was a Top 15 hit.


“Hank” Jason Boland & The Stragglers

The first song on their 2009 self-titled LP.

“You don’t like my music, you don’t like my songs
You say you wanna party, you say you wanna rock and roll
That carbon copy music don’t mean a damn to me
Hank Williams wouldn’t make it now in Nashville, Tennessee”


“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” – Waylon Jennings

The seminal Hank Williams tribute, and the seminal country music protest song all wrapped up into one. It was released in August of 1975 and became a #1 hit. Not three chords and the truth—two chords and the truth.

• “Hank, It Will Never Be The Same Without You” – Ernest Tubb

• “The Great Hank” – Robert Earl Keen (About Hank in drag)

• “Things Change” – Tim McGraw

• “When You Died At Twenty-Nine” – Slaid Cleaves

• “Alcohol & Pills” – Fred Eaglesmith

• “If Ol’ Hank Could Only See Us Now” – Waylon Jennings

• “Hank Williams Syndrome” – Waylon Jennings

• “Hank’s Song” – Ferlin Husky

“Tramp On Your Street” – George Jones

• “Rollin’ and Ramblin’” – Emmylou Harris

 

A Selection of Other Great Hank Williams Tributes:

 

  • “A Tribute to Hank Williams, My Buddy” – Luke McDaniels
  • “Hank” – Her Make Believe Band
  • “Here’s To Hank” – Stonewall Jackson
  • “Hank Williams Sings The Bules No More” – Jimmie Logsdon
  • “Hank, You Still Make Me Cry” – Boxcar Willie
  • “Hats Off To Hank” – Buzz Carson
  • “Hank, You Tried To Tell Me” – Johnny Paycheck
  • “I Had A Talk With A Man Last Night” – Vernon Oxford
  • “Hank Williams Isn’t Dead” – Duke Denver and Jeffrey Null
  • “Hank Williams Will Live Forever” – Johnny and Jack
  • “The Night I Met Hank Williams” – Lee Guthrie

 

  • “I Long To Hear Hank Williams Sing The Blues” – Jim Murphy
  • “The Life of Hank Williams” – Rick and Thel Carey
  • “A Legend Froze in Time” – David Church
  • “I Couldn’t Sleep for Thinkin’ Of Hank Williams” – Henry McCullough
  • “Everybody Likes a Hank Williams Song” – Tim Hus
  • “Curse of Hank” – Tim Hus
  • “Ghost of Hank Williams” – Kentucky Headhunters
  • “Ghost of Hank Williams” – David Allan Coe
  • “Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?” – The Waterboys
  • “Tribute to Hank Williams” – Tim Hardin

 

  • “Crank The Hank” – Dallas Wayne
  • “The Ballad of Hank Williams” – Hank Williams Jr. and Don Helms
  • “Ol’ Hank’s Lovesick Blues” – Gary Stewart
  • “Daddy (I Need You Tonight)” – Hank Williams Jr.
  • “Everybody Wants To Be Hank Williams” – Larry Boone
  • “Montgomery In The Rain” – Steve Young (also covered by Hank Jr.)
  • “The Car Hank Died In” – The Austin Lounge Lizards
  • “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” – Jerry Jeff Walker
  • “This Ain’t Montgomery” – Hank III and Joey Allcorn
  • “Mission From Hank” – Aaron Tippin

 

Oct
15

Doug Seegers Beyond The “Homeless Man Made Star” Story

October 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  18 Comments

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The story of the homeless Nashville singer-songwriter done good named Doug Seegers crossed the Saving Country Music news desk early on in the story’s cycle, before big outlets like NPR and the Wall St. Journal were running big features on the heartwarming tale, but for whatever reason, a story that seemed like it was fit for telling filled me with a bit of trepidation. Even though early samples of Seeger’s songs seemed quite promising, and so was the news that artists like Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller were involved in an upcoming album, there was just something philosophical keeping me from really buying in to the story 100% as a testament to the human spirit, and the spirit of giving that everyone was making it out to be.

Homelessness is such a complex issue, and it’s so easy for people who have their positions secured in the social net to look at a homeless person as a product of laziness, or a problem of governmental neglect, when really what causes someone to slip through the cracks is an involved set of circumstances that includes fluid details of mental illness, addiction, lack of familial support, and so many other factors. What caused Doug Seegers to go from living in upstate New York with a wife and two kids to living on the streets of Nashville? The way the story was being presented was almost a little too Hallmark Channel and heartwarming. I needed to actually hear the music before I held the Doug Seegers story in some high regard.

And no offense to Doug Seegers, but why should he be chosen to be picked off the street and have a big production album made for him when there’s hundreds, maybe thousands of other artists out there patiently waiting their turn that may deserve this chance just as much, if not more, including artists who have shown initiative and self-discipline and reliance over years, making them arguably more worthy of investment?

doug-seegers-buskingAs the story goes, Doug Seegers was a musician in Austin, TX and New York before he got married and moved upstate. At some point he showed up in Nashville by himself, and was living on the streets and hanging around The Little Pantry That Could in west Nashville, playing and singing at songwriter nights. Then through a set of circumstances, he was discovered by a Swedish television crew that happened to be in Nashville filming. The host Jill Johnson heard about Doug from a street food vendor who told her Doug could sing. The film crew found Seeger who played his song “Going Down To The River” for them, and later the show came back and taped a Doug Seegers performance at Johnny Cash’s recording cabin outside of town. When the Doug Seegers episode eventually aired in Sweden, Seegers became a cultural phenomenon in the country, and he was subsequently signed by Lionheart Music Group to record and release the Going Down To The River album.

Emmylou Harris was brought in to sing on a Gram Parsons song, and Buddy Miller who apparently knew Seegers from his days as an Austin musician was also brought on board. Will Kimbrough was named as the producer, and by the time Going Down To The River was released in Sweden, Doug Seeger’s popularity was such that it shot to #1 on the charts and was quickly certified Gold, helped along by a 60-date tour and a big festival appearance by Seegers in the Scandinavian country.

But was this a symptom of hype, or the result of good country music? The allure of a story about finding a diamond in the rough on the streets of Nashville, polishing him up, and making him a superstar is the perfect type of romantic notion for a Swedish television audience swept up in the fantasy of American culture, but would Doug Seegers’ music translate to even a viable listening product for well-cultured country music ears here in the States? We couldn’t even tell completely until October 8th when Going Down To The River finally received its U.S. release, nearly half a year after the songwriter had become a Swedish television and cultural icon.

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Featuring Gram Parson’s noted composition “She,” the classic Hank Williams song “There Will Be Teardrops Tonight,” and ten original songs penned solely by Seegers, Going Down To The River presents a troubled, but gentle and sweet man with a lifetime of pent up stories to tell, and a tear-soaked voice that despite its noticeable toothless lisp, conveys tremendous emotion and evidences remarkable phrasing instincts and delicate control. Going Down To The River has a classic, late 70′s smooth country feel to it with a traditional heart and a small taste of the blues, seeming to evoke the period stylings of the original era when Seegers’ songs were likely written many years ago.

doug-seegers-going-down-to-the-river“Down To The River” is the song that started all the Doug Seegers Swedish hype, and the classic story of atoning for sins in the muddy waters of the American South is done with such original flare and is a perfect exhibition for Seegers’ vocal strengths, the song feels worthy of its international praise. But “Angie’s Song”—the first song on the album—may just be the gem of the entire endeavor. Excellently written and tastefully produced, it’s the sound of Otis Redding meeting Hank Williams, and the warm love story at the heart of the song truly makes it something special.

There’s really not a slouch on this album. The songwriting and singing evidenced by Seegers on one track after another are really a remarkable display of the talent that can be picked off the Nashville streets and shine with a little polishing. “Lonely Drifter’s Cry” and “Pour Me” are pure, classic country songs plain and simple, and so is “Gotta Catch A Train” and “Burning a Hole In My Pocket.” And when I talk about how country some of these compositions are, I’m talking so classic and sweet, with just the right amount of steel guitar and laid back drumming and bass, you feel like you were listening to what Hank may have recorded if he’d lived a little longer and had a little more Motown or Memphis in his voice.

Even the two covers were handled so well they didn’t stick out as foreign to this song list, and if you notice these were the two songs Seegers collaborate with Emmylou and Buddy Miller on, leaving his original compositions as you may have heard them at the Little Pantry That Could songwriter showcases in west Nashville. Some of the more bluesy numbers, like the last song “Baby Lost Her Way Home Again,” and “Hard Working Man” felt a little out of place on what is overall a very classic-sounding country album, but this might have been Will Kimbrough doing his best on what probably are the album’s weakest tracks artistically.

It very well may be true that Doug Seeger’s story could be anyone’s, and that you could crash the streets of Nashville, Austin, New York, or Los Angeles, and put together an entire roster of remarkable talent that is currently sleeping on the streets, as even more worthy musicians sit teetering on the brink of homelessness themselves because they’ve been overlooked by the industry. But that doesn’t make Doug Seeger’s talent any less worthy of being singled out as it has, and as Going Down To The River attests, any and all praise Seegers has been showered with over the last six months and counting is worthy and warranted.

Once again, the European appetite and ear for American country music, and the willingness to dig deeper and offer support to worthy artists, wins out over the efforts of country music’s home once again. Of course Doug Seegers was a homeless man living on the streets, because that’s about the assessment of value American society has placed upon the classic style of country music. Doug Seegers may have demons in his back pockets or skeletons in his closets yet to be revealed, and he may have had his entire life to write this album. But Going Down To The River is as good of a classic country album as you will hear all year from anyone.

Two guns up.

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Preview & Purchase Tracks to Going Down To The River

Oct
8

Maddie Hasson to Play Billie Jean in Hank Williams Biopic

October 8, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  18 Comments
Billie Jean Horton

Billie Jean Horton

The third important role in the new Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light has been cast. 19-year-old Maddie Hasson from New Bern, North Carolina, who previously played Willa Monday in the Fox TV show The Finder, and currently co-stars in the ABC Family show Twisted has been cast in the role of Billie Jean Eshliman—later known as Billie Jean Horton—Hank’s second wife and an important woman in country music lore.

Though Audrey Williams (to be played by Elizabeth Olsen) is the woman buried next to Hank Williams and is most famous for being Hank’s wife, Billie Jean is officially Hank’s widow and played a critical role in the singer’s final months. From Bossier City, LA, Billie Jean was first introduced to Hank by another famous country singer, Faron Young who was dating Billie Jean at the time. She was just 19-years-old, and in October of 1952, Billie Jean and Hank Williams were married in a private ceremony in Louisiana. Later they repeated their vows at two concerts on the stage of the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans for large crowds.

Maddie Hasson (from Tumblr)

Maddie Hasson (from Tumblr)

Three short months later, Hank Williams was dead. He passed away on News Years Day, 1953. Later in 1953, Billie Jean Williams married country music star Johnny Horton, who died in a car wreck in 1960, making Billie Jean a famous country music widow for a second time. For a short period, Billie Jean also had a relationship with Johnny Cash while he was still married to his first wife Vivian Liberto. The famous country music wife had a recording career of her own for a period, and had a Top 40 country record with “Ocean of Tears” in 1961. Billie Jean was a vocal promoter of the legacies of her two famous husbands for years, including gathering up songs from Johnny Horton after he died and compiling them into new releases. She is one of the few important figures to be portrayed in the new film who is still alive.

Billie Jean Horton had a public battle with MGM over the making of the first Hank Williams movie, Your Cheatin’ Heart from 1964. She took exception to how she was portrayed and as being married to Hank Williams illegitimately, and sued the studio.

“That movie portrayed me as a harlot. It grossed $44 million, but I shut ‘em down,” the fiery Billie Jean told The Gadsden Times in 1975. “They had lawyers stacked on top of one another, but I whupped ‘em all over town. They just weren’t ready for Billie Jean. Yeah, the movie portrayed me as a harlot, but there they were in court looking at my marriage certificate with mine and Hank’s signature on it.”

Billie Jean apparently won the lawsuit.

Some controversy has swirled over the I Saw The Light biopic, specifically from the grandson of Hank Williams, Hank3, who believes British actor Tom Hiddleston is not fit to play the role of Hank for the movie. I Saw The Light is scheduled to start filming in late October, and to be released in 2015.

Oct
6

Results from the Waylon Jennings Arizona Estate Auction

October 6, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  14 Comments

remebering-waylon-auction

This story has been updated.

Waylon fans and collectible enthusiasts from around the country and world made their way to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ or tuned in online to a 2,000-item estate liquidation from the Arizona homestead of the late Waylon Jennings. The auction was conducted by Guernsey’s of New York who compiled over 500 lots that included many pictures of Waylon and his friends, gold & platinum records and other trophies accumulated over his storied career, many music instruments including personal guitars and amplifiers, personal effects like watches and sunglasses, clothing, and reams of paper material of Waylon’s lyrics and other musings.

Bidding began at 1 PM Pacific time, and started with the pictures Waylon had accumulated over his lifetime. The most desirable lot of pictures turned out to be a lot of four vintage photos from the set of the movie Stagecoach that included pictures with Johnny Cash, and one with Waylon shooting the bird from inside a stagecoach.

PLEASE NOTE: The sale prices should be considered preliminary and may not take into consideration certain factors. As soon as sale prices are finalized and confirmed, they will be updated here.

Out of the gold & platinum records and the trophies, the most sought-after of the collection was the gold record for The Highwaymen which fetched $6,000. 17 new trophies had been added to the auction recently from what was originally advertised, including a 1998 Chettie Award that went for $2,250.

Out of Waylon’s musical instruments, his two personal 1940′s Martin guitars brought $26,000, and $22,500 respectively, while a 1985 acoustic-electric Alvarez guitar fetched $10,000—much higher than original auction estimates. However auctioneers had a difficult time getting bidders interested in the numerous Fender amplifiers from Waylon’s personal collection, with most of the Twin Reverb models going for well under estimates, and for less than $1,000.

The crown jewel of the auction was the 1958 Ariel Cyclone motorcycle once owned by Waylon’s mentor Buddy Holly that was then given to Waylon on his birthday in 1979 by the former members of Buddy’s backing band The Crickets. It sold for $457,500. Some initial reports had the motorcycle not selling at a high bid of $375,000 that did not meet the reserve, but Saving Country Music has confirmed with the auction house the sale of the bike and the price. The other high bid in the auction was for a desk given to Waylon by Johnny Cash that sold for $70,000.

As for other items of interest, a letter from Johnny Cash to Waylon went for $2,750, the note from John Lennon to Waylon went for $7,500, and a robe given to Waylon by Muhammad Ali landed $5,000.

Proceeds from the auction went to benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Here’s a run down of some of the most important and interesting items from the auction:

1958 Ariel Cyclone Motorcycle. $457,500. (Read More)

waylong-motorcycle-ariel-cyclone-auction

Photograph of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash Rollerskating. $750

waylon-jennings-johnny-cash-rollerskating-001

Waylon’s GED Plaque from the State of Oklahoma Earned on April 14th, 1991 at 52. $1,200

waylon-jennings-ged-certificate

Gold Record for The Highwaymen Record from 1986. $6,000

waylon-jennings-gold-record-the-highwaymen

1946 Martin D28 Herringbone Guitar. $26,000.

waylon-jennings-1946-martin-D28-herringbone

1943 Martin Guitar 00021. $22,500

waylon-jennings-guitar-1943-martin-00021

“Little” Jimmy Dickens Dobro Resonator Guitar. $12,000 

waylon-jennings-dobro-resonator-little-jimmy-dickens

Gold RWN Necklace for Waylon, Ritchie Albright, & Neil Reshen. $1,800

waylon-jennings-rwn-necklace

Howard 23 Jewel Pocket Watch on Chain. $10,000

howard-waylon-jennings-pocket-watch

Golden Badge from Davidson County (Nashville) Sheriff. $2,500

waylon-jennings-davidson-county-badge-2

Rare Autographed Copy of an Early Waylon Jennings LP, JD’s. $1,100.

waylon-jennings-jds-lp

Hank Williams’ Custom-Made Nudie Cowboy Boots. $8,000. 

hank-williams-boots-waylon-jennings

Muhammad Ali’s Ring Robe Presented to Waylon by Ali (Read More). $5,000.

muhammad-ali-robe

Letter From Johnny Cash to Waylon Jennings (Read More). $2,750.

johnny-cash-letter-to-waylon-jennings

Willie Nelson’s Braids, Given to Waylon. $31,250.

willie-nelson-braids-waylon-jennings

Armadillo World Headquarters Poster w/ Commander Cody & Willie Nelson. $900.

waylon-jennings-armadillo-world-headquarters-poster

Partner Desk Given to Waylon from Johnny Cash in 1985. $70,000.

waylon-jennings-partner-desk-johnny-cash

Original Contract Forming The Highwaymen. $18,000.

waylon-jennings-original-highwaymen-contract

Letter from John Lennon to Waylon Jennings (Read More). $7,500.

john-lennon-letter-to-waylon-jennings

Waylon’s Rolex Submariner Wristwatch. $25,000.

waylon-jennings-rolex

Oct
3

Rodney Crowell Speaks About Tom Hiddleston Playing Hank Williams

October 3, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  31 Comments

I’m as respectful of the man’s work ethic as I’m mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.

tom-hiddleston-rodney-crowell

Tom Hiddleston & Rodney Crowell

This is the long and short of how Rodney Crowell feels about the job British actor Tom Hiddleston is doing to morph himself into Hank Williams for the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light based on Colin Escott’s biography. Rodney Crowell was hired on by the production company of the movie to be the Executive Music Producer and Tom Hiddleston’s personal voice coach for his Hank Williams transformation.

In a lengthy post on Rodney’s Facebook page from earlier this week, the country/Americana performer expounded about his experiences with Tom while in training for the part.

During the month of September 2014, our house in Tennessee became the base camp for Tom Hiddleston’s steady transformation into Hank Williams. I’d been hired by a film company—whose vision of shining a gritty light on the life and times of Hank Williams piqued my interest no end—to produce the music and assist their leading man in finding his way into the heart of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time.


The classically trained British actor arrived in Nashville on the fourth day of the month and the very next day climbed on a tour bus bound for Michigan and the Wheatland Music Festival, his traveling companions Claudia, myself, and a four-piece band consisting of Jerry Roe, Byron House, Pat Buchannan and Steve Fishell. Just minutes before taking part in an afternoon workshop with Sarah Jarosz, whose permission I had sought first, I asked Tom if he’d like to join us onstage and sing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” a Hank Williams song I’d heard him practicing on the bus. I was surprised when he said yes and skillfully performed the tune before what must have been 1500 people. Later that night, with my band on the main stage, and with very little urging from me, he rendered a joyful version of “Move It On Over.” Afterward, brimming with delight, he admitted, rather boyishly, that he’d never in his life performed with a band and had loved it.

The pick to have the part of Hank Williams played by Hiddleston has been a controversial one in some sectors. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, has been a vocal opponent of the casting, saying that it would take an American to understand the unique the role of playing country music’s first superstar. Hank3 has also criticized the pick of Rodney Crowell as Hiddleston’s vocal coach. Hank3 told Saving Country Music, “It definitely puts Rodney Crowell in a strange position. I’m definitely not wanting to be hard on him. But if if Rodney Crowell is the voice coach, it says a lot right there … No disrespect to Rodney Crowell, but there’s two Hank Williams walking this earth right now.”

When video surfaced of Hiddleston performing at the Wheatland Music Festival, the debate started anew about Hiddleston’s abilities to assume the role realistically and believably. Producers for the film have said that Hiddleston will be performing multiple Hank Williams songs live in the movie, and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It On Over,” and “Lovesick Blues” are the three songs that have come up multiple times as being potential movie cuts.

Rodney Crowell went on to speak specifically to Hiddleston’s dedication and work ethic for the role.


On a typical day in September, I watched him sit for a wardrobe fitting, read through four hours worth of key scenes with the director and leading lady, spend another two hours with a dialect coach, and then, in order to lose the weight needed to look Hank Williams gaunt on screen, run seven wicked miles over hilly Tennessee terrain. With those chores done, he’d then commit to six more hours of singing, over and over again, a very hard to master song like ”Lovesick Blues.” And then, when he finally unlocked the mystery of yodeling the blues, hillbilly style, and was treated to a playback of his performance responded by saying “I can do it better, let me go again.” Then came a late dinner, wolfed down before giving in to a few hours sleep. After nearly a month spent collaborating with this gifted artist, I’m as respectful of the man’s work ethic as I’m mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.

I Saw The Light is set to begin filming in Louisiana in mid to late October, and the casting of local extras has begun. Elizabeth Olsen has also been selected to play the role of Audrey Williams, Hank’s wife.

The debate will likely rage over the pick of Tom Hiddleston to play Hank Williams well after the movie is shot and released, but Rodney Crowell makes it clear that he believes they found the right man.

Sep
17

Steve Earle’s Hank Williams Book to be Made Into Movie

September 17, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments

steve-earle-ill-never-get-out-of-this-world-alive-novelToday would have been the 91st birthday of Hillbilly Shakespeare Hank Williams, and we get news that a new movie is in the works based around a novel written by alt-country pioneer Steve Earle called I’ll Never Get Out Of The World Alive. The movie will be stared in and produced by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, most famous for playing Thor in recent comic book movies. Hemsworth has optioned the movie rights to Earle’s novel, and Benjamin Grayson wrote the script for the movie and will be directing it—his first time directing a film. Laura Bickford of films such as Traffic and Duplicity has also been brought on board as a producer. The movie will be an independent film.

chris-hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth

Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive novel was released in May of 2011 by Houghton Mifflin. It is titled after a Hank Williams song that in an eerie twist of fate, was the last of Hank’s songs to be released as a single while he was still alive. The novel doesn’t involve Hank intimately, but follows the fictitious life of Toby “Doc” Ebersole who is defrocked after being Hank’s doctor at the time of Hank’s mysterious death on New Years Day, 1953 in the back of a black Cadillac. The story picks up ten years later when Ebersole is living in San Antonio, TX and is an unlicensed practitioner performing abortions and other illegal procedures to support his heroin addiction. Toby Ebersole is haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams from carrying around the guilt of killing country music’s first superstar.

Steve Earle

Steve Earle

No word on when production for the movie may start, or when it may be released. Hemsworth has a busy schedule coming up. He is currently filming the reboot of the Chevy Chase classic Vacation, and just wrapped up two more movies to be released in 2015: In the Heart of the Sea, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Hank Williams films have been all the rage lately, and so have recent actors in comic book novels starring in them. British actor Tom Hiddleston who plays the nemesis of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor character is set to star in a new biopic about Hank Williams called I Saw The Light that begins filming in Louisiana next month. Elizabeth Olsen, I Saw The Light‘s female lead playing opposite of Hiddleston as Hank’s wife Audrey, is also cast in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I Saw The Light has received criticism from Hank’s grandson Hank3 and others for casting a non American in the role. Another Hank Williams movie The Last Ride was released in 2013.

Steve Earle also released an album in 2011 called I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. No word if the music will find its way into the movie soundtrack.

Sep
11

Audrey Williams Cast in Hank Williams Biopic

September 11, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  14 Comments

audrey-williams-elizabeth-olsenThe upcoming biopic on Hank Williams entitled I Saw The Light has its leading lady. The part of Audrey Williams—Hank’s first wife and one of the foremost influences on his music—will be played by Elizabeth Olsen, little sister of famous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and recent star of films such as Captain America:The Winter Soldier and Godzilla. She will play Audrey across from Tom Hiddleston, who is known for his own acting in comic books films as well as other roles. They will be directed by Marc Abraham, who also wrote the screenplay for the film based off of Colin Escott’s Hank Williams biography.

Like her sisters, Elizabeth Olsen began acting at a very young age. At 4-years-old she was appearing in the movies of her older twin sisters, but walked away from acting briefly after the controversy surrounding Mary-Kate’s eating disorder. Her role in the 2011 movie Martha Marcy May Marlene is given credit for starting her acting career in earnest, and Elizabeth has since starred in eleven other films, including another comic book movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron set to be released in 2015.

Audrey Williams, born Audry Mae Sheppard, was married to Hank Williams from December 15, 1944, until July 10, 1952. Hank Williams later remarried, but as a performer herself, an important player in the Hank Williams estate after Hank’s death, and the mother of Hank Williams Jr., Audrey’s influence on both the story of Hank Williams and country music as a whole looms large. Audrey played upright bass in Hank’s band upon occasion, and had aspirations of stepping out into her own spotlight. “Her duets with Hank were like an extension of their married life in that she fought him for dominance on every note,” says biographer Colin Escott. Audrey is buried beside Hank Williams in Montgomery, Alabama.

The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams has already stimulated some controversy. Hank3, the grandson of Hank Williams has criticized the casting, saying that it should be an American or a Southerner to play the Hillbilly Shakespeare. Video of Tom Hiddleston singing Hank Williams surfaced over the weekend from the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan.

The production for I Saw The Light is also gearing up for an open casting call for some of the movie’s smaller speaking roles and extras. The casting call will be held on September 14th from 11 AM to 4 PM at 6901 W. 70th Shreveport, LA 71129. They are also soliciting the public for classic cars to use in the film.

“Also we are looking for extras of all ages (mostly adults) and anyone who has any ‘western outfits’ should attend the open call wearing those outfits,” the casting call operated by Legacy Casting says. “We are also seeking period vehicles 1930-1950. It is not necessary to bring the vehicle, but please bring good photographs of the vehicles. Everyone should bring non-returnable current photos of themselves for us to keep.”

I Saw The Light will begin shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana in mid October. Rodney Crowell is the Executive Music Producer for the film.

Sep
10

Hank3 Talks New Hank Williams Movie & Upcoming Tour

September 10, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  50 Comments

hank-williams-3-111

Hank William III, or Hank3 as he goes by, has been causing quite a stir over the last few weeks from his vocal concern about his grandfather being portrayed by British actor Tom Hiddleston in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light. The 3rd generation performer has been posting his thoughts on Facebook, been quoted by TMZ, and has been leaving comments right here on Saving Country Music saying that an American, or a Southerner, or someone else besides Hiddleston would be a better fit for the role of Hank Williams. Coupled with Hank3′s hard-edged style, he’s come off as abrasive to some, while many Hank Williams fans agree with his sentiment and are concerned about the direction the biopic is taking.

When I spoke to Hank3 today for an extended period, I didn’t find a cocky, closed-minded individual suspicious of a foreign actor and who secretly wishes he would have been considered for the role (Hank3 does have some acting experience, and even his hardest detractors must admit he looks and sounds the part). What I found was a man seriously conflicted, being eaten up not just by the idea of Hiddleston playing his grandfather, but that the entire biopic project was commencing on an unsturdy foundation. He also feels bad for the position his criticism is putting Hiddleston and his vocal coach Rodney Crowell in.  “For some reason it is deeply embedding in my skull and I can’t get it out,” he says. “Just the fact of why the hell is this bothering me right now because I’ve got a hell of a lot of other stuff on my plate right now.”

Hank3 is currently prepping to embark on a West Coast tour where he’ll be playing shows that could stretch to three or four hours, and as his own tour manager, he is busy rounding up crew and gear, and finalizing all preparations. Worrying about Tom Hiddleston’s Hank Williams role should be the last thing from his mind. But here he is amidst a public skirmish involving huge press outlets and international players.

For the first time since the issues with I Saw The Light arose, I talk to Hank3 in depth about the movie and his concerns, as well as about what fans can expect from his upcoming tour and if any new music is on the way.

Check Hank3 Tour Dates


You’ve been a vocal opponent of the choice of Tom Hiddleston to play your grandfather Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light. You’ve already spoken a lot on the subject publicly, but what did seeing the first videos of Tom Hiddleston perform your grandfather’s music tell you about Hiddleston’s ability to pull off the role genuinely?

Unfortunately the way they’re approaching it is doing it in the public eye, so that in itself doesn’t seem very smart. If he’s supposed to be working on his craft to really dial in this role, doing it in front of folks is probably not the best way to do it. And then, if you’re going to put it publicity out there and have him singing and then put a link to Hank Williams singing next to it? Yeah, that’s really bad. Unfortunately, they’re acting like he’s going to be singing a lot in the movie, and that in itself is a letdown. Almost everyone that I talk to hears no resemblance, and it’s alright if there’s no resemblance. Hopefully the acting will make up for it. But the main point that I will still stand by no matter what happens in the future, I still think for an Americana icon, an American needs to play that role. To have a good foundation, and to make the best of a movie, and to take it to the next level and make it feel as real as possible, yeah… My example is the Coal Miner’s Daughter movie. It’s a very well-made movie that people could identify with on many levels.

For some reason, this is really bothering me. I don’t know why. I don’t have anything to lose or gain from it. But for the approach that is happening with this movie is just not sitting right with me. And it’s not just me. There’s a lot of people I talk to out there that just don’t understand it. And this isn’t about Tom [Hiddleston]. This is about the choice. I’m not out to diss his acting or anything like that. I’m just going to shoot from the hip. I don’t think it’s a good pick, especially hearing what I did. Anyone can sing in a low register like that. I don’t hear any nasal twang to it. I honestly just want to see the best movie that can be made, because it’s been a while since they’ve made one that’s been good. Your Cheatin’ Heart had some moments, but honestly, Audrey [Hank's wife] killed that script, and took out most of the real things about it. I guess I’m so vocal about it because I care, and I want to see the best movie made. I try to let it get out of my head, and God only knows why this one is rubbing me raw, but it is.

Well this is supposed to be the definitive biopic, or at least that’s how they’re portraying it, based off of Colin Escott’s biography which is the definitive biography of Hank Williams. So this is the big one.

Yeah, I may have a shady reputation here and there and might say some things, but all in all I’m pretty humble about what I do, and I’m not out to put anybody down. But when it comes to something as important as this, I have to say some things. It goes from the street, all the way up to the corporate level in Nashville. There’s already a lot of people shaking their heads. And I know it just puts Tom [Hiddleston] in a bad situation.

To get into those areas that are really deep, you need to getting into the areas around here. Here in Tennessee, in Alabama, in Louisiana, to live it, eat it and breathe it. When Johnny Depp did Hunter S. Thompson, where was he? He was living in Hunter’s basement. No disrespect to Rodney Crowell, but there’s two Hank Williams walking this earth right now.

I know you have no direct say so in the Hank Williams estate; that’s handled by Jr. and Jett. But it doesn’t sound like they reached out to you at all to get consultation, or even to vet the populous to try and find the best person to play Hank Williams. You have may not wanted the role even if it was offered to you, but the resemblance is there both with your voice and your likeness. Why wouldn’t they reach out for a screen test? You’ve done some acting in the past. Did they even reach out just to say, “Hey, we know your passion for your grandfather, why don’t you come in and at least give us your advice or consultation?” None of that happen with you or your father [Hank Jr.]?

Yeah, there’s been nothing. And that could be because of politics, and because I don’t have that big time mover and shaker manager in my corner. But no one has approach me, and I’m a very easy to get to guy.

And unfortunately, the BBC, the Europeans, they all have a huge appreciation for Hank Williams. That’s not a question in my mind. There is a true love there. But for the role, and for the movie, it’s just doesn’t feel right. It’s going to be hard to look at for someone like me, or someone who is a die hard Hank Williams fan. It’s going to be a very big hurdle to overcome. I know Tom [Hiddleston] has fire in some of his roles, but if you really do your homework on Hank Williams, he was a very cocky individual who would stare you down almost like you were going to be getting into a fight. It’s an intensity that’s kind of different. There’s a lot of things in the nose structure and the jawline, just basic stuff. I’m not trying to gain the press, I’m just giving an opinion. And unfortunately, my opinion isn’t what they’re wanting to hear.

Hypothetically, let’s just say the filmmakers did reach out to you, either in the future or in the past to get your opinions, or to try out for the role. Would you have been receptive to those things, and would you be receptive to those things now?

I tell every director my weakness of what they have to work with, and what they have to pull out of me. I’ve been on a movie set, I’ve done it. People like Earl Brown have said to me, “Well, you can do it, you’ve got it.” It doesn’t matter if people are pitching TV shows at me or documentaries, or anything, I always tell them what I’m like as a person, and what to expect. And then as far as your job as a director, you’re going to have to heighten it to the next level to really get what you need out of me. I’m open, and I tell folks the pluses and the minuses, and I’m the first one to say I’m no super great actor, and I’m no super great singer. I always shoot straight. I do the best that I can, and some folks get it, and some folks don’t. But a lot of people have the potential for this role. It’s just getting the right foundation up under it.

The director is Marc Abraham, and he hasn’t done much directing. He’s mostly a producer; a behind-the-scenes type guy, and he’s done a lot of horror and action films. He’s a guy that definitely has a name in Hollywood, has made a lot of movies, and people know him. But this is only the second film that he’s directed.

As Jeff Bridges would say, a young director, sometimes they don’t know the rules to break. Every movie you make you learn something and it takes time to hone in on your craft. It doesn’t sound like a very seasoned guy for that role. I hate to look at anything just on paper, but if you’re looking at who the lead guy is, who the director is, yeah man, it’s kind of so so, for all that Hank Williams has done.

Some people are saying, “Well, you’re criticizing something that hasn’t even been made yet.” Any movie is going to necessitate the audience to suspend disbelief. But I guess the counterpoint to that would be to speak now or forever hold your peace, because as soon as this movie production begins, people can chirp all they want, but it’s not necessarily going to change anything. What would you say to people who say you’re not even giving it a chance?

I just know that there’s some things there that you can’t teach, no matter how hard you try to polish it or morph it into something you want. And unfortunately, this movie is going in that direction. With this, it’s like, I already know. No matter how much you polish it, it’s not going to hit the potential that it could, just because of what they’re sticking with, or where they could take it. Just like a guitar player that might know a million and one notes and he’s a guitar whiz and all that. But he has no feel. And this is falling under that category. It’s just not going to have much feel, because Tom is already going to be worried about this role, he’s already getting flack over it. Many many people are just not impressed as far as the whole situation around it.

And it definitely puts Rodney Crowell in a strange position. I’m definitely not wanting to be hard on him. But if if Rodney Crowell is the voice coach, it says a lot right there too.

And for some reason it is deeply embedding in my skull and I can’t get it out. Just the fact of why the hell is this bothering me right now because I’ve got a hell of a lot of other stuff on my plate right now.

Well, it’s your grandfather. You’ve been doing this Reinstate Hank campaign for years. You’re one of the biggest champions in trying to preserve his legacy and pay it forward to a new generation. And this movie symbolizes such an amazing opportunity to do that. That’s the promise of the movie if they do it right, is it could have a huge impact on revitalizing the understanding of who Hank Williams was to the American culture and to the music culture of the world.

But I will say, with or without this movie, Hank Williams’ music is still going to do that. I had to bring that up earlier today. No matter, his music is going to be timeless, and movies come and go. At the end of the day, his music and what he did is going to outlast the movie, and be passed on for generations. That is why he is as special as he is.

You’re 41 years old now, which is hard to contemplate for your fans, but probably even harder for you because you’re still doing your punk and metal music, you’re still stretching out shows to four and five hours. Where do you find that energy? It must take a big toll.

I approach every tour like it is my last tour. I am the strongest / weakest person you’ll ever meet. It’s a weird Jekyll and Hyde relationship. It’s just like art—you create, and then you destroy. And when I go out on the road, I’m putting it on the line, I’m taking it to the next level, I put 100% into my shows. Some nights, the voice just feels too good and the audience wants more, and it will end up being a five hour show. But no matter what, I do two hours of country. It’s like I have to go the extra mile to be able to rock out, and to pay respects to my fans and to make sure everyone got their money’s worth, I always do two hours of country, and then I go off into the Hellbilly and all of the other sounds.

It’s pretty intense for right now. And one day it might not be as hard, but where I get that energy and that drive from is playing every show like it’s my last show, and putting it on the line while I can. Because if I make it to my 50′s then yeah maybe I’ll get back into the country fairs and not be as intense. It’s hard to say where I’ll be. You look at Lemmy and you look at Willie. Who knows what the future holds. Right now I’m very proud to have the diverse audience that I have. A lot of people have preconceived notions of about how fame was just handed to me when it’s not been like that. It’s hard to carve out your own niche when you’re standing in the shadows of Hank Sr. and Hank Jr. But I feel comfortable that people have accepted me for Hank3. Not everybody gets it, and not everybody is supposed to. It’s a long show, and it’s a hard one. I’m trying to put on the biggest little show in a bar out there, and know that there’s no one else in the world doing what we’re were doing as far as at the level that we’re at.

Where is your band sitting these days? There’s been a lot of interest if Andy Gibson (steel guitar player) will be returning.

Some of the guys just need a break every now and then. I’m sure when I’m recording another record, I’ll check in and see what’s going on with Andy. Dwayne [Dennison] is not going to be out on this next tour. And just for the record, this last tour was barely able to get off the ground. I got double booked. I got confirmed on a show I didn’t give the go ahead on, and just as of yesterday I got a crew together, so this one has been down to the wire. So were having to work extra hard on this gig.

And word generally on when we could expect a new album or albums, or what we could expect from them once they’re released?

I can’t go off full bore into a whole other project just yet until I break even off of the two records that I released. So once I break even from Brothers of the 4X4 and A Fiendish Threat, then I can start putting my efforts off into either a new country record, or whatever it is. So right now I’ve just been doing a good bit of side work, and playing to keep playing. But there’s nothing officially set at this point. I’m basically in road mode still. And as soon as I hear that I have broken even, I’ll move on to the next one.

Sep
8

Hank3 to Tom Hiddleston: “You Got No Soul or Moan In Your Voice”

September 8, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  73 Comments

hank-williams-iiiThe saga continues around the casting of Tom Hiddleston as the iconic Hank Williams for an upcoming biopic on country’s first superstar called I Saw The Light. Though filming isn’t even scheduled to start for another few weeks, the concerns of having a British native play the park of Hank has some country music fans in a stir.

The grandson of Hank Williams, Hank Williams III (or Hank3), spoke out previously about the casting, worried that Hiddleston was not the right person for the part.

“To do a Hank Williams movie the way it should be done you need certain aspects in the mix to make right,” said Hank3. “It goes way beyond having an American to play the role of Hiram Hank Williams, Sr. for it to be somewhat natural, needs to be an American from the South who has eat lived and breathed these kind of roles before to make more respectable movie on Hank Sr.”

Hank3 suggested that recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey could do it, though he said this was only a suggestion, not a specific request.

Over the weekend, video surfaced of Tom Hiddleston making a surprise appearance at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan on Saturday (9-7) where performed a rendition of the Hank Williams classic “Move It On Over.” On Sunday, Hiddleston returned to Wheatland with mentor Rodney Crowell—who has been personally working with Hiddleston—to sing a version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Since then Hank3 has responded yet again. In a comment right here on Saving Country Music, and on his personal Facebook page, Hank3 said, “You got no soul or moan in your voice,” in response to Tom Hiddleston’s video, and posted a video of himself singing Hank Sr.’s “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” from his Live in Scotland album.

UPDATE: Hank3 has subsequently added in another comment on Saving Country Music:

Its very simple to make a great movie you start off with great foundation. And as far as a European actor playing a American Icon in my eyes that in its self is a super weak foundation for a Country Music Icon. My view on that alone topic alone will never change no matter who the European actor is. If it was your family being represented by a outsider you might have the same feelings. Keep that in mind.

Tom Hiddleston has done his best to reassure fans that he will do the best job he can portraying the Hillbilly Shakespeare. Tom said in late June,

The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons,” Hiddleston says. “He worked hard, played hard, lived hard — there were women, there was whiskey — but when he sang about being in the doghouse in ‘Move It On Over’, or about his heartbreak in ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’, it came from an honest place. Hank’s life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. It’s a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

The role of Hank Williams is likely to be a discussion point all the way up to the release of the film. The production for I Saw The Light has already secured the rights to Hank’s songs from publishing company Sony ATV, and have said that along with Hank’s original recordings, Hiddleston will be performing certain songs in the movie live.

Hank3 is currently getting ready to leave on tour.

Tom Hiddleston’s Performance:

Hank3′s Response:

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