Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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Hank Williams Sr.

A Musical Biography featuring Hugh Harris
January 1, 2005, at the Liberty Theater

When Hugh Harris performed a musical biography of Hank Williams at the Liberty Theater in Eunice on January 1, 2005, it had been 52 years since the legendary song writer and singer had died on the road somewhere between Knoxville, Tenn., and Oak Hill, W. Va.  With Hugh Harris' physical resemblance to Hank Williams and his ability to replicate every heartfelt, emotionally charged nuance of Williams' voice, the audience at the Liberty got to experience not so much an impersonation as Hank Williams miraculously brought to life 52 years later, telling his own story in song.

Dr. Barry Ancelet and Terry Huval came up with the idea of doing the show as a supplement to the annual Hank Williams tribute at the Liberty. Instead of the tribute format that features several musicians doing Hank's songs, the biographical program let Hugh Harris step fully into the role of Hank Williams.  Barry Ancelet supplied some off-stage narrative representing the words of Hank's associates, and at one point Harris' own wife and son spoke off-stage to portray Audrey Williams and Hank Jr. Cajun musician D.L. Menard, who is himself a living legend, appeared on stage to describe his encounter with Williams at the Teche Club in New Iberia in 1951 and his other recollections of Williams. Then, after Harris sang "Honky Tonk Blues," Menard appeared on stage to sing his trademark "La Porte d'en arrière," adapted from Williams' song.

The program closed with "Your Cheatin' Heart," which Williams recorded shortly before his death. But, just as when Hank Williams himself was on stage more than five decades ago, the capacity audience at the Liberty clapped and cheered and demanded several encores.

Click here to go to the page on the first Hank Williams Tribute.

In the top photo, Hugh Harris is shown as Hank Williams Sr. early in his career. D.L. Menard is shown telling the audience about his encounter with Hank. In another section of the program, Harris sat at a table with a pint of Jack Daniels to represent another aspect of Williams' life. The photo immediately above shows Harris' own son, who decided to join his father on stage during the encore numbers.

The band performing with Harris as the Drifting Cowboys shown from left consisted of Kyle Harris, Randy Champagne, Gina Forsyth, Kenneth David, and Terry Huval.

Posted 1-13-05

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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