I Survived Hank Williams Jr.

By Rob Greenwell

Wow, I have to give myself a pat on the back for being able to survive a night with Hank Williams, Jr. When the comment is made that someone has truly seen or done it all, there are only a few people who can truly lay claim to that fact. Bocephus can and still does after all these years! I am just glad that I survived one of the biggest parties of the year.

Williams can still party with the best of them, as evidenced by his August 16 sold-out show at Freedom Hall at the Kentucky State Fair. I don't really understand why Nashville had a hard time accepting him. I think they hadn't realized that fans are what make an artist popular, not a record label. He was joined this night by the new heirs to the throne of redneck music, Montgomery Gentry, who not only can sing great, but rival their leader in the drinking department. At the end of the show, Eddie and Troy joined one of their heroes on stage for a rousing rendition of Jim Beam drinking and singing of the redneck anthem, "Family Tradition." This event and song is a must at any redneck party (with all due respects to "Sweet Home Alabama").

Hank did it all on this night, from the old greats like "Women I've Never Had" to "Born To Boogie" to the "Country Boy Can Survive" to "Blues Man." This legendary son was really born to party, but was also born to be a blues singer. He even said that country music was "white man's blues." He knows that most rednecks like rock `n' roll too, as he performed guitar solos by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith and ZZ Top. For a dumb ol' redneck hillbilly, this guy is a master musician and has learned his craft from some of the best. He also played piano masterfully during that Jerry Lee Lewis rock classic, "Whole Lotta Shaken' Goin' On."

Ever since Williams went out on the road in 1957, he has steadily improved, presumably due to age and wisdom. He may not be able to sing as well as he did many years ago, but I will promise you one thing, not a soul in that sold-out show gave one rat's ass if he could or not. They wanted to party and he gave them a party, along with all of his rowdy friends in Louisville.

As I noted above, Kentucky duo Montgomery Gentry opened the show, as perfect an opening act could be found. These boys got the crowd really pumped up for what lay ahead of them. They are headed toward bigger stardom to be sure, especially as they are sponsored by Jim Beam. I suppose that that sponsorship, which allows Beam to put up banners at their shows, also includes a clause insuring that the bus is full of Jim Beam all the time. Does it include hangover remedies as well?

Email your opinions and comments to rgreenwell@louisvillemusicnews.net