Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012
Don’t mistake Lovesick Blues: A Tribute to Hank Williams Sr. — the Liberty Theater’s upcoming and seventh annual tribute — for just another gathering of local musicians eager to perform their favorite Hank Williams songs. It’s actually a musical of sorts narrating the events of Williams’ short but storied life with local singer-songwriter Hugh Harris donning the felt cowboy hat and stepping into the boots of the iconic country star.
Lovesick Blues tells the story of the singer’s life in retrospect from the night he died, tastefully peppered with the unforgettable songs of his career. The various scenes of the play are anchored with Williams in the back seat of his 1952 Cadillac, which is where he was found dead while en route to a performance scheduled for New Year’s Day 1953 in Canton, Ohio.
Other major characters in his life have speaking parts off stage, giving the illusion that he’s remembering the important events in his life. The first is when Williams remembers meeting Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne, the man who taught him how to play guitar, and then to meeting his wife Audrey Sheppard, his career skyrocketing as he became a regular on the Louisiana Hayride radio show and his debut and tenure at the Grand Ole Opry.
The performance is filled with more than 20 of Williams’ memorable songs, including “Your Cheating Heart,” “Hey Good Looking,” “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You,” and, of course, “Lovesick Blues.” Joining Harris’ Hank on stage will be a facsimile of the singer’s famed band, The Drifting Cowboys, composed of Gina Forsyth on fiddle, Terry Huval on steel guitar, Kenneth David on bass, Kyle Harris on lead guitar and Bobby Dumatrait playing rhythm guitar, with Cajun folklorist Barry Ancelet on hand as a script consultant. The show is directed by Jody Powell.
Though Hugh Harris mulled over the concept for the production for years, it didn’t come to fruition until Ancelet suggested in 2005 that something special be done to commemorate Williams on New Year’s Day, the anniversary of the singer’s passing.
“We all got our heads around doing this one-man performance and came up with a script and integrated it with the music,” says Harris. “A lot of singers come in and they all do tributes to Hank Williams, so we decided we wanted to take it to the next level and do an actual, theatrical-style performance instead of just a musical performance.”
Another aspect of the singer’s life that the play doesn’t ignore is his drinking. According to Harris, this topic splits Hank Williams followers into two schools of thought. He refers to the first group as “St. Hank,” those who say Williams only drank on special occasions like New Year’s. And then there are those he says believe the singer never drew a sober breath since he was 13 years old, a group he refers to as “Hank the Derelict.”
“A lot of singers come in and they all do tributes to Hank Williams, so we decided we wanted to take it to the next level and do an actual, theatrical-style performance instead of just a musical performance.”
|— Hugh Harris|
“The truth is that he was somewhere in between,” says Harris. “The actual facts of history do not support either one of those. What we have attempted to do is, yes, there is a drinking scene so you know what happens. We do not ignore it. It was part of what made him up, but it was not what defined him.”
Lovesick Blues is steeped in Williams’ legacy, and much of its content was influenced by the group’s opportunity to have played with the last living member of Williams’ band the Drifting Cowboys, the late Don Helms, at numerous Hank Williams tribute concerts. The play also celebrates the strong connection and rich history Louisiana shares with Hank Williams.
“There’s a lot of people who come to our shows that actually saw Hank Williams play in person. They enjoy the opportunity to relive those experiences through this play,” says Huval. “Hugh Harris has studied the Hank Williams persona quite well and does a really great job in carrying the trial, the tribulations, the victories and the struggles that Hank Williams had to give the audience a better flavor as to what his life was really like.”
Lovesick Blues: A Tribute to Hank Williams Sr. begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Liberty Theater in Eunice. So far, only one performance is scheduled. Tickets are $13 with all reserved seating. To order tickets, call the Eunice mayor’s office at (337) 457-7389.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Richard Buswell was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $6 million.
The Latin Music Festival returns to Parc International this Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon to 10 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
Security breach at White House; Bejing won't back down from protesters; pressure on third-graders and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 30, 2014.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Lafayette Regional seeking new leadership after longtime director Greg Roberts’ June resignation.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
T&T show behind the scenes
Four bedroom in Breaux Bridge or four bedroom in Opelousas
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.
The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.
The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims decreased to 2,068 from the previous week's total of 2,071. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,494 claims.
Museum of Fear opens its 2014 season with more scares than ever before.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The endorsements keep coming for District 9 LPSB candidate Jeremy Hidalgo, who picked up his fifth vow of support Thursday, this time from the Chamber’s political action committee.