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Hank Williams

A Tribute at the Liberty Theater

Annual Tributes to Hank Williams and Old Tyme Country Music Shows

"Lovesick Blues:  An Evening with Hank Williams, Sr." will be performed at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009, at the Liberty Theater in Eunice. The show is a one-act original musical depicting the career of County Music Legend Hank Williams, Sr., with Hugh Harris starring as Williams.  Harris performs more than thirty of Hank's songs, backed by his own "Drifting Cowboys" band, while portraying Williams from the time when he made his first recording at the age of 23, to his brief career as country music's first superstar at the age of 25, to the time of his untimely death at the age of 29. The show is sponsored by grants from the Acadiana Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission.

Seats are all reserved and are $12.00 each. Tickets can be purchased through the Eunice Mayor's Office at 337-457-7389, during regular business hours.

Updated 12-12-08

High res photos of the Classic Country Show (Nov. 15, 2008) are posted on Flickr.

High res photos of the 9th annual Tribute to Hank Williams (Sept. 20, 2008) and the 8th annual tribute (Jan. 5, 2008) are posted on Flickr.
Photos of the shows performed Dec. 16 and 30, 2006, and Jan. 6, 2007, are posted.

Click here for photos of the sixth annual Tribute to Hank Williams Sr., held December 17, 2005,  the fifth annual Old Tyme Country Show, held January 7, 2006, and the second performance of "An Evening with Hank Williams Sr.," featuring Hugh Harris in a musical biography on December 31, 2005.

Click here for photos of the fifth annual Tribute to Hank Williams Sr., held December 18, 2004,  the fourth annual Old Tyme Country Show held January 8, 2005, and the first performance of "An Evening with Hank Williams Sr.," featuring Hugh Harris in a musical biography.

Click here for photos of the second annual tribute to Hank Williams Sr., held Dec. 29, 2001, the third tribute Dec. 28, 2002, and the fourth tribute held Dec. 27, 2003.

Click here for photos of the first Old Tyme Country Show at the Liberty Dec. 22, 2001 , the second show Dec. 21, 2002. and the third show held Jan. 3, 2004.


Photos of the First Annual Tribute to Hank Williams Sr.,
Dec. 30, 2000

The Liberty Theatre is known as the home of the "Rendez-vous des Cajuns" Radio Program, held every Saturday night except during the Christmas holidays.  On December 30, 2000, what was originally scheduled to be a deserted theater was filled to capacity with enthusiastic fans of Hank Williams attending a tribute organized by  Terry Huval and other members of the Jambalaya Cajun Band. It was a first-class program that, like the regular Liberty shows, was broadcast over KRVS public radio.

All of the songs were in English, but during the program host Barry Ancelet discussed some of the influences that Williams had on Cajun music and vice versa. The printed program notes provided further details. Williams spent a lot of time in Louisiana during his all-too-brief singing career. He appeared on Shreveport's Louisiana Hayride in the late 1940's, and, even after moving from Bossier City to Nashville, he returned to Louisiana to be part of the Hadacol Caravan, promoting Senator Dudley J. LeBlanc's famous medicinal potion.

Using the tune to the Cajun song "Grand Texas," Williams wrote "Jambalaya," with "help from East Texas' Moon Mulligan, an entertainer familiar with the Cajun pathos. Vin Bruce, a Louisiana artist with Columbia Records, provided Hank with some of the Cajun-oriented lyrics to the song."  The program notes added that a number of Williams' songs are now part of the South Louisiana repertoire, either translated into French for performances by Cajun and Zydeco musicians or performed with the original English lyrics by Swamp-Pop or country musicians.

One of the performers that night, the legendary D.L. Menard, is known as the Cajun Hank Williams. Menard told the crowd that Williams' greatness came from his ability to write and sing music straight from the heart. The tune to Menard's trademark song, "La Porte d'en arrière," is adapted from Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues" (sung during the program by Camey Doucet). Like many of Williams' songs,   "La Porte d'en arrière," was written quickly, telling a story that drew an immediate response from audiences. That  ability to connect directly  to a wide range of human emotions is shared by great country folk artists like Hank Williams and by the great French musicians of Southwest Louisiana like D.L. Menard.

Menard sang Hank Williams songs that night like "Lonesome Whistle," "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry,"  and "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes." Camey Doucet, his white hair covered by a cowboy hat most of the evening, sang "Why Don't You Love Me," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Settin' the Woods on Fire" and other Williams hits. Terry Huval performed "Be Careful of Stones That You Throw," "Dear John," and others. Horace Trahan, who was playing zydeco later that night, had an early slot in the program with songs like "I'm a Long Gone Daddy," Wealth Won't Save Your Soul," and "Tramp in the Street," a song that, according to Ann Savoy (in notes to the latest Savoy-Doucet CD), was first popularized by Molly O'Day and subsequently cajunized by Nathan Abshire.

The most remarkable performance of the evening came from Hugh Harris of Holden, a young man who does a dead-on impersonation of Hank Williams, capturing all of the nuances of Williams' voice. Harris sang "Cold, Cold Heart," "Long, Gone Lonesome Blues," "Half as Much," "Lost Highway," and other great hits–eleven songs in all.

Stage musicians were Gina Forsyth on fiddle, Terry Huval on steel guitar, Bobby Dumatrait on lead guitar, Randy Champagne on mandolin and guitar, Kenneth David on upright bass, and Tony Huval on drums.

All of the musicians joined together for the opening number, "Jambalya," and for the last song, "I Saw the Light."

It was truly a great evening of music in tribute to an American musician whose influence has extended around the world.

Terry Huval, Hugh Harris, Gina Forsyth, and members of the Jambalaya Cajun Band recorded 10 numbers from the Tribute to Hank Williams Sr. on a CD in March 2001.


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D.L. Menard is shown in the top two pictures. Hugh Harris is in the next photo, with Gina Forsyth beside him. Camey Doucet is shown in the next shots. In the picture below, Horace Trahan is singing. Terry Huval is on steel guitar.

Terry Huval, Gina Forsyth, Bobby Dumatrait, Horace Trahan, Tony Huval, Hugh Harris, D. L. Menard, Kenneth David, and Camey Doucet are shown in the bottom photo.

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All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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