Saturday, April 24, 2010
Hank Williams Jr.
Last night I got to see a living legend do his thing. Hank Williams Jr. played at the newly renamed Bridgestone Center, the local enormo-dome. As I walked through the parking lot full of Grave Diggers, Calvin stickers, and Stars and Bars, I wasn't sure how my ticket buying technique would go over with this crowd. It sure was rowdy, as if the Hillsboro Middle School and FHS auto body garage had a reunion downtown, a scene I am all too familiar with. No more than five minutes after I started looking, the nice lady at the radio station tent gave me a ticket. So, this review is brought to you by the letters W, S, M.
Getting a ticket so early left me some time to pregame the only appropriate way, by bellying up to the sticky bar at The Wheel on Broadway and catching some tunes from The Jukebox Junkies. They played some songs about how bad country radio is and a couple of old classics including "Kawliga", the old Hank Sr. song about a wooden indian. They also quoted Jesco White which gave them instant country street cred. The Wheel was a great place to get a couple cheap beers and a shot of Jack and get ready for the hoe down.
I went into the show as they were setting up for opener Jamey Johnson (not to be confused with the pretty-boy 3-time NASCAR champ). He came out and put on a pretty good show for what seemed to be a pretty interested crowd. His songs contain a lot of lines about smoking and growing pot, drinkin' whiskey, and other such red-neck activities that are so much fun. These references always get a good reaction from this sort of crowd. There were a few too many slow ballads for my liking but overall, he was a good opener for Bocephus.
The lights went down for Hank and the screen lit up with pictures of him and Sr. and a video introduction from Merle Haggard. There was also some talk about the Monday Night Football intro, which I thought was unnecessary. Then he came out a rippin' and a tearin' and started off with "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" and then went right into Skynard's "Workin' For M.C.A". The night was filled with great moments. In his version of the aforementioned Sr. classic "Kawliga", he played a hot fiddle solo. At another point, he got on the piano and told a great story about Jerry Lee Lewis jamming at the house and "teachin' me to boogie", and then played his version of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On". The acoustic set included a Dukes of Hazard theme sing-along, a "Tear in My Beer" sing-along and a campfire version of "A Country Boy Can Survive". The band came back out for the last few songs and ended the way you might expect, with everyone, including Jamey Johnson and the rest of the rowdy friend openers hollering "TO GET DRUNK! TO GET STONED! TO GET LAID!" in an all inclusive version of "Family Tradition", with Sr.'s "Hey Good Lookin'" tacked on for good measure. Then Bocephus strutted around the stage, left, and it was over. Boom, no encore. Kind of a disappointment but understandable from someone who doesn't play many shows anyway.
I'm glad to have gotten a chance to see Hank Jr., especially under the shadow of his huge banner on the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was cool to see that he was proud of his heritage and his family line. He loves his dad and all that goes along with the name. There was also no question of his political views with the huge banner stating "I'm keepin' my guns, my money, and my freedom, you can keep the change." draped across the stage. It truly was a good Nashville experience and another one off the bucket list.