Last week in Nashville during AmericanaFest, a rumor was swirling around town that Hank Williams III was going to be making a surprise appearance at the American Legion Post #82 on Thursday (9-15). A Hank Williams did end up appearing for an unannounced popup show, but it was Hank Williams Jr. who was promoting his new Rich White Honky Blues album with Dan Auerbach.
The reason the Hank3 rumor seemed so wild is because it will be nine years next week since Hank Williams III officially released new music, and almost just as long since he performed publicly. But voraciously hungry Hank3 fans have been getting a few welcome morsels from the elusive artist recently as he’s been dropping a succession of demo recordings, scratch tracks, and other random audio projects on YouTube.
Unfortunately, these are not new studio tracks from Hank3, though there are a couple of unheard songs. This is stuff he’s likely accumulated over the years here and there that he’s uploading for free. It’s also not exclusively country stuff. Many of the tracks are from the doom metal side of his music, and other side projects. A lot of the tracks are songs Hank3 recorded by himself, even if they feature multiple instruments. Multiple single take banjo tracks are also part of the set. There are 16 tracks in all so far. Hank3 started uploading the tracks over the weekend.
Out of the 16 songs, there is a good quality demo recording of the song “I Wish I Knew” from Hank’s 2008 album Damn, Right, Rebel Proud.
There is also a demo for the song “Looking For a Mountain” from Hank3’s 2010 album Rebel Within. Another track uploaded under the title “Helpin Good Ole Pablo Out” is either dedicated to Eddie Pleasant, or possibly written by him. Eddie Pleasant was a legendary country music songwriter, musician, and manager whoworked as Hank3’s merch manager early in his career, and passed away on September 17th.
Perhaps the gem from the tracks dropped so far is a song called “He Never Made Another Sound,” which is about a dog owner who shoots the sheriff for shooting at his dog. “I never did live out this song,” Hank3 says at the beginning, “but I know a guy that did.”
There is also a banjo reel dedicated to Grand Ole Opry performer David “Stringbean” Akerman and his wife Estelle who were murdered in their Tennessee cabin by burglars in 1973, and another acoustic song called “Angel of Death” that was written by his grandfather Hank Williams (listen below). The balance is mostly gloomy metal stuff that yours truly is not as qualified to describe or quantify. All of the new material can be found on Hank3’s Official YouTube page.
Hank3 has been absent from the public eye for nearly nine years aside from a quick video appearance as part of an Outlaw country heavy metal tribute he was a part of in April of 2018. Hank released his last record in 2013, and played his last live performance the following year. In 2016, Hank3 explained that he’d been forced to move from his infamous Haunted Ranch property in east Nashville, and that his dog Trooper had died, and that was the reason for the delay in either new music or touring dates. But that was the last major update we’ve had from him. He did say in both 2017 and 2018 that he would be “seeing us again real soon.”
Saving Country Music reached out to Hank3 for comment on the release of the recordings, but have not heard back. Perhaps it’s part of clearing the cobwebs out and getting the creative juices flowing once again. One can only hope.