Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hank Williams III at the Gramercy Theatre

Shelton Hank Williams, also known as Hank Williams III and Hank 3, was born December 12, 1972, in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the grandson of Hank Williams, a country music icon who died at the age of 29 in the back seat of a car, and is the son of Hank Williams, Jr., a country music artist who reportedly left him at the age of four. Hank Williams III was country music royalty before he ever sang a note, but he did not immediately follow his forebears musically. Hank III lived the life of a nomadic rocker, getting loaded and playing drums in punk and hardcore bands. That changed when a court settlement decreed that he owed a backlog of child support, and the judge instructed Hank to find more reliable employment. It took a $24,000 child support suit and a $300-a-week pot habit to get Hank III to finally give up the $50-a-gig punk life and start playing country music. Since then he has done a balancing act playing both country music and punk-metal bybrids. His most recent albums are Brothers of the 4x4 (country) and A Fiendish Threat (punk), both released in 2013.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight Hank III opened a four-hour show with two hours of well-performed straight-up outlaw honky tonk country music, complete with banjo and fiddle. The audience responded with a mosh pit. He then unraveled his braid and stuck his hair under a painter's cap, put on a jacket, dropped two of the six band members and the remaining musicians became a punk-rock band called A Fiendish Threat. About 45-minutes later, Williams let his hair fall, changed his outfit and band a bit and they became a droning stoner metal band called A.D.D. (which stands for Attention Deficit Domination). About 45 minutes later, another change of look and band members and they became 3 Bar Ranch, a metal-ish band that was all about how much fuzz, distortion and noise could be produced by a power rock trio. With each band reconfiguration, the band lost more and more of the audience. By the end of the night, well past midnight, there were far more crushed beer cans on the dance floor than there were fans. Although Williams' heart may rest with the latter bands, the country music set was the best set, and the rest was throw-away musical exercise.

Visit Hank Williams III at www.hank3.com.