Archive for August, 2010

Cincinnati deserves a lot of credit for keeping alive the memory of Hank Williams. This is especially true for the group that has worked to preserve the historic Herzog Recording Studio in that city.

Hank Williams traveled to Ohio to for two recording sessions. The first produced ‘Lovesick Blues’ the song that made him a national singing star. The second session yielded ”I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’  one of his greatest self penned songs and the one that established and preserves his poetic gifts for all time.

Tonight (Aug 30, 2010) local artists Dallas Moore and Jody Payne long time Willie Nelson guitarist will put on a show called “Hank to Thank” and  record a CD and DVD live at the historic second floor studio. Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to the preservation of the studio. This is the only studio where Hank Williams recorded professionally which is still standing.

And today marks 61 years to the day that Hank recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “A House Without Love,” “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin'” and “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It”, eight months after his first Herzog session in which the historic ‘Lovesick Blues was recorded over the objections of producer Fred Rose at the time.

Back on August  3rd  the  Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation announced that it had signed a one year lease  for the second floor at 811 Race Street, the former home of the E.T. Herzog Recording Co., with a $10,000 anonymous grant made through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. The Music Heritage Foundation plans to turn the space into its headquarters and use it for recordings, performances and exhibits.

Here’s the latest article from the Cincinnati  newspaper website.

I have written three earlier posts on the Herzog Studio. They can be found here.

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East Coast liberals love Hank. At least somebody at the New York Times does. The prestigious paper has published another article on Hank. I’ve been surprised by the number of Hank stories in The Times just since I started this blog in November of  2008.

Sadly, like much  recent activity about Hank, the article focusses on the death of Hank Williams.

The piece in the Friday August 13th edition is by Mary Woodroof and describes a journey to Oak Hill West Virginia the site of Hank Williams’ death in the early morning hours of January 1st 1953. By the way, Woodroof spends the first few paragraphs describing how her journey to Hank Williams’ music came through Emmy Lou Harris who was the subject of the previous post on this blog.

She describes her growing appreciation of Hank Williams in these words:

It was only after I’d had a lot of the pretentiousness knocked out of me by my own addiction struggles that I came to understand all this was beside the point. Hank Williams didn’t write songs for hillbillies; he wrote songs for anybody interested in facing life with a modicum of openness and honesty.

Woodroof describes her conversations with Oak Hill natives as she seeks to find the filling station where it was discovered that Hank Williams was dead. She describes her feeling at the now vacant site of Burdette’s Pure Oil.

To me, there is no romance in such a death; and not much in the life that leads to it. I get to say this because I, too, once flirted seriously with self-destruction and know that when you’re an addict, the rest of your life is a shadow no matter how many songs you write or places  you go or people you please. Or how many good times you have, for that matter. There’s no bargaining with alcohol and drugs once you have to have them. You either stop drinking and using or you die.

The article is called ‘Sharing Demons with Hank Williams’. Martha Woodroof is a novelist and works at public radio station WMRA in Virginia.

Here’s the link.

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