The Legendary Bama Band: L to R, Ray Barrickman, Bill Marshall, Wayne Turner, Billy Earheart, 'Cowboy' Eddie Long.

Hank Jr's Legendary Bama Band at Jim Porter's (Sans Hank Jr)

By Jean Metcalfe

"How y'all doin' tonight, Louisville?" Wayne "Animal" Turner, lead singer for The Bama Band, shouted a greeting to the Thursday-night audience at Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium. The group had opened with "My Reckless Heart" and "Rock With You Now (Roll With You Later)," cuts from their new Capitol Records album, Takin' Off the Edge.

"Louisville's done taken over half the band," Turner added and he wasn't exactly kidding. Indeed, counting Turner himself, four of the eight members who performed on October 17 with the "Legendary Bama Band" (Hank Williams Jr.'s touring band) were, as described by Turner, "hometown boys."

Michael Murphy, Tony Bowles and Ray Barrickman are the other three. Actually, as I understand it, Murphy and Bowles travel with Hank Jr., but not with The Bama Band when the band does performances without Bocephus. Murphy and Bowles joined the group for this performance, however, even though Hank Jr. was not along, since it was in their own hometown. I think.

"Come out and put your hands on somebody's butt," Turner coaxed, in an attempt to fill the dance floor that had up to that time been occupied by a lone couple. "Tear up them tiles," he urged and a large number complied, figuratively speaking, of course.

Though not quite as boisterous as the famous entertainer he backs up, Bama Band front man Turner did manage to "rowdy on down" as the evening progressed.

Political correctness notwithstanding, "I Like to Have Women I've Never Had" was on the playlist this evening. They identified the song as "one of his," and would continue to introduce Hank Jr.'s songs, including "Born to Boogie," in this manner throughout the evening.

"Any of y'all football fans?," the party "Animal" yelled, as they kicked off the second set with "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight." The affirmative reply indicated that more than a few in the audience were familiar with the song that is associated with Monday Night Football.

Murphy, who sat in the audience during, the first set, was very much a part of the "Rowdy Friends" number. At song's end, Turner acknowledged Murphy: "We've added somebody, Mike Murphy, on the sax. He got more applause than we did." 'Twas true. But they all deserved and received, lots of it.

The Bama Band just got hotter as the set progressed, causing my husband and me to reconsider our earlier decision to leave after We had found the first set to be more a tad on the loud side and had fled to a quieter spot. We sat out the remainder of the set in the cozy window seat in the hallway where we could hear the sounds of the Bama Band to the right and Sherry Edwards & Rage to the left.

Back in the Ballroom in a new-found, slightly quieter spot, we enjoyed the group as they presented an ample sample of cuts from their new album, along with selections from earlier albums.

Each of the band members had several opportunities to strut their musical stuff throughout the evening.

Spotlighted alone on the stage, drummer Bill "Tommy Gun" Marshall took his turn. My musician friend commented: "It's the dreaded drum solo." And, although I wouldn't want to hear two in a row, Marshall proved himself to be an excellent drummer.

"Big Lightning,' you being the hometown boy, why don't you do one for us?," Turner said to Ray Barrickman. The old cliche "rose to the occasion" came to mind as the talented bass player took a turn in the spotlight on "Dust My Broom," a nice Delta blues number.

"Sweet Home Chicago" became "Sweet Home Louisville" as the hometown four lined up down stage to deliver an outstanding version of the blues favorite.

Before we reluctantly departed at set's end, we were treated to Turner's version of "Stormy Monday Blues" and other classics such as "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Ain't Misbehavin'," all of which contained fantastic solo spots by the various members of the Bama Band.

To not mention every member of the band would be a travesty. Besides those already named, the Bama Band consisted of Billy Earheart on piano, "Cowboy" Eddie Long on steel guitar and Rick Steff on keyboards. Each of the impressive musicians did his part to make the Ballroom at Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium an entertaining place to be on October 17.

On the sidelines, "Hoss" Beane, the group's driver, sold albums, T-shirts and other Bama Band memoribilia. He also impressed me as quite a good p.r. man for the group. His wife, Carmen Beane, is the president of The Bama Band Fan Club. For additional information about the band or their fan club, call Ms. Beane at (901) 243-7270, or write: The Bama Band Fan Club, c/o Carmen Beane, P.O. Box 8, Henry, TN 38231.

The up-and-coming band John Allen filled the opening spot for the Bama Band and did a commendable job. They performed a nice selection of covers, including The Kentucky HeadHunters' megahits "Dumas Walker" and "Walk Softly" and several Garth Brooks biggies.

John Allen also introduced several cuts from their debut album, A New Number One, on the Springfield, Ky.-based Music Man label. With the exception of one cut, the six-song album is comprised of songs written by local songwriters. Rumor has it that at least one of the tunes is expected to earn success beyond the Kentuckiana area.

That expectation has already been partially realized as a brief portion of "The Proof's Here In My Hand" will be heard coming from the jukebox in a scene from John Mellencamp's upcoming movie, "Falling From Grace." The song was co-written by Charlie Walls of Springfield and Sam Reid of Brooks.