Hank Williams to be celebrated by local musicians

Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

Renowned local musicians including Grammy Award-winning duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Commander Cody founding member Bill Kirchen, renowned singer-songwriters Robin and Linda Williams and their Fine Group, will once again pay tribute to iconic singer-songwriter Hank Williams.

Christmas Eve marked the 59th anniversary of the death of Williams, who died at age 29 in the back seat of his Cadillac. Although Williams is routinely hailed and honored, Fink had the notion to gather some of the areas's most lauded musicians to annually pay tribute to the country legend.

"Hank is one of those elite songwriters that has stood the test of time," said Fink, who started the annual tribute 16 years ago with the support of those at the Birchmere in Alexandria. "His songs are as good as country songs will ever be."

Williams' songs, such as "Your Cheatin' Heart," "I Saw the Light" and "Hey, Good Lookin'" are well-known, of course. Yet other songs, such as "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" is relatively unknown, though it did go to No. 1 in 1952.

16th Annual Hank Williams Tribute Show
Where: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Info: $29.50; 800-745-3000;

Although the performers at the tribute are mainly based in a form of Americana, they show the broad appeal of Williams' songs to fans of country, rock and other formats. Kirchen, the guitar wizard behind the dazzling guitar sounds in the song "Hot Rod Lincoln," also dazzles axe fans.

Such arrangements are no stretch. Consider Williams' song "Cold, Cold World." Tony Bennett covered the song in 1951, giving it a pop flavor. Not only did the cover hit No. 1, but it introduced Williams' music to fans outside of country music.

Although Williams' hits are well-known, he also wrote a host of appealing songs that are not as well-known.

Each year, Fink reviews the previous year's set list and chooses a few of the lesser known songs in Williams' catalog -- such as "Jambalaya" -- as a way to reintroduce them to the fans.

Although Williams' heirs, including son Hank Williams Jr. and his daughter, (Hank William's granddaughter) Holly Williams, are well-known performers in their own right, the musicians at this tribute focus only on Hank Williams' music.

"We don't go outside of Hank Williams' repertoire, but I would not call the show static," said Fink. "We take an amazing, intimate look at what Hank Williams sounded like himself."

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