Hooray for Hank
Hooray for Hank
Still, organizer Jacqui Alexander says about 400 people showed up for the Old City event, which sprawled across five nightspots: Manhattan’s, Patrick Sullivan’s, Urban Bar, Back Room BBQ, and the Pilot Light. The 11 bands ranged liberally from B-Western hero Marshal Andy himself to the reconstituted country punkers the Rude Street Peters . Johnson City rockabillies Rob Russell and the Sore Losers were there, and the Running Dogs turned out to be a stripped-down, revved-up version of the Lonesome Coyotes with Hector Qirko and Steve Horton . When some more old homeboys like Brian Waldschlager showed up, it had the gamey smell of an alt-moonshiners’ reunion. At some of the shows, the audience seemed to be made up mostly of recognizable musicians, past and present.
The party featured a Hank look-alike contest, the best Hank documentary we’ve ever seen (featuring a startling and apparently recent interview with one of the porters who helped carry Hank out of the Andrew Johnson Hotel on New Year’s Eve, 1952), a jambalaya cook-off, and an “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” speed-dating event which, contrary to expectations, drew more single men than single women. Almost all of it was held inside, in venues that often have live music anyway, but the unscheduled appearance of a very good Hankish country band on the sidewalk outside gave the lonesome streets a little more of a festive air.
Alexander says she wishes she’d charged more than $5 a head, but it was enough to pay their expenses with a little extra for the Terry Hill Memorial Fund, a musical scholarship named in honor of another guitarist, singer and songwriter who died far too young. (Hill spent part of his youth living in the Andrew Johnson Hotel, and grew up hearing the story of Hank’s last hours.) Most of the musicians who played that night knew Terry personally, and some attendees honored Terry while wearing Hank masks.
In all fairness, he and his bandmates had plenty to celebrate, first and foremost the completion of their new CD. A week after performing at Brewers Jam both as the High Score and as Mic Harrison ’s backing band, the guys squeezed into the 90.3 FM studios on Oct. 28 to debut some of the fresh tracks on The Funhouse with hosts Rob Levering and Derek Senter , who reports unequivocally that the disc—which currently lacks a name, a label and a release date—kicks more ass than a rabid donkey. One of the band’s next gigs is Dec. 9 at Barley’s with Flesh Vehicle .
Vocalist and guitarist Robbie Trosper explains that the guilt-inducing throwdown marked the end of their tour with fellow celebrant Harrison’s Pallbearer’s Shoes as well as the near-completion of tracks for his next record. “We’ve started demo-ing the songs,” says Trosper. “They sound like a cross between Waylon Jennings and Creedence Clearwater Revival .”
And what explains Scott Miller ’s participation in the revelry? Trosper reports that the Brewers Jam headliner is also nearing the end of recording for his next Sugar Hill release, due out in early 2006. But Trosper is mum about the specifics regarding Henderson’s apology, received as a hand-written note in the MP offices.
“As far as details of the Back Room, you get The High Score, Mic Harrison and Scott Miller and the Commonwealth at the same bar—which we’ve done more than once—you’re bound to wake up and wonder, ‘My God, what happened last night?’” Next time, forego the apology and just pass the Makers Mark to us.