One of my favorite nights in the music industry ever was actually a night off instead of a work. Yep yep, that time in 2011 hanging with Hank Williams, III, best known to his fans as Hank III.
I had a buddy at the time, guitarist David McElfresh, who was playing in Hank’s band and who also has a terrific band of own which I gave a lot of press love to, Moonbow. Referred to as “Davey” from backstage, McElfresh and I had a good rapport to the point he’d invited me down to Hank III’s gig on the guest list. Davey took good care of me all night.
Let me tell you, Hank Williams, III puts on a marathon show rolling, kicking and screaming for more than four hours that night and he splits the sets by genre. The longest set, the first one, is naturally pure country as his grandfather, Hank the Elder, as I call him, would’ve rolled with back in the day. Hank III has long made it a crusade to see his grandfather reinstated in the Grand Ole Opry and he had no problem mincing words about the fact in his country set. Rebel yells and PBR were flowing during that portion, but Hank III also had no problem letting go half of his audience which wouldn’t know Superjoint Ritual from a beach spliff party with a caveat the remaining segments of the gig were anything but country. He politely gave those who didn’t apply a friendly warning to roll out, lest their eardrums take a savage beating.
As expected, less than half of the urban cowboys in Baltimore took off, leaving the venue to be peeled apart by Hank III, McElfresh and his team of hellraisers, slamming through a punk set of Hank’s own music and his grind-punk affiliates, Assjack. Afterwards, the final two sets delved into blasting roars of doom and grind metal culled from Hank III’s side projects, 3 Bar Ranch and Attention Deficit Domination. The final set being played as trio with all wearing bandanas as bandit mask facial coverings. Just wild, from start to finish.
It was after the show where I hung out on the band’s touring bus with David McElfresh and the rest of the group, and I was deeply impressed watching Hank III work an endless line of fans who’d migrated to the bus in hopes of meeting the lineage of country music royalty. He shook hands, gave out autographs and took selfies with every single person while I shared beers with the band. Afterwards, I had a few minutes to hang with Hank III and David McElfresh and the dude is legit. We talked more about his grandfather than his father, a legend of country deep fans call Bo Cephus. No surprise if you’re familiar with the family business. Hank III is as tall as he looks, as both McElfresh and myself were dwarfed in the shot above, tossing not an expectant metal-styled horns-up, but a three-finger salute to a man with sheer wherewithal and his rowdy-ass music. Boom.
–Ray Van Horn, Jr.