Posts Tagged ‘country music’

Posted in Raleigh Music Industry Association.


Originally posted in Raleigh Music .com

An interview with Hank III.
By: Hunter Elliott

When I heard Hank III would be rocking The Lincoln Theatre I knew I had to be the guy covering the show. Raleigh Music contacted his promoter and along with passes to the show I was granted a short phone interview with the man himself. The promoter told me I would have about ten minuets so I prepared 6 question. Below is our exchange.

I started the conversation by telling Hank I was a huge fan of his music, who I was, and who I was working for.

1) Hunter- Country Music has really changed and many folks including myself think for the worse. What are your thoughts on the reasons why?

Hank- “It comes down to who knows who, lawyers getting more control than the musicians and DJ’s, and really it is more of a business but artist are beginning to get some of that control back. With that said I will not fault any artist for making a living with their music.”

2) Hunter- Will Country Music ever come full circle and what was will be again?

Hank- “That is way too hard to say but maybe.” 3) Hunter- Can you give me some examples of musicians that influence your style?

Hank- “There are a lot of musicians that have had influence but some that come to mind are Jimmy Martin, Dock Boggs, Hell Stomper, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Waylon Jennings, Lynard Skynard, and old Charlie Daniels.”

4) Hunter- Not long ago you released four albums at once, why?

Hank- “Nobody has ever done that before and it has been many years since I could sell my own CDs at my shows and since being signed with Curb records, now I have more creative control. Curb was holding me back as a musician.”

5) Hunter-Tell me about your involvement with Happy Tails (a humane shelter in TN so the reader knows) and your dogs Trooper and Mama.

Hank – “I have always been an animal lover and have been with Happy Tails for four years, I grew up around animals and they are close to me. Not everyone is cut out for a wife or husband but animals offer great companionship.” Trooper was rescued in Mississippi and was coming up to cars looking for help. Mama was hit by a car and had a litter of puppies in her when she was rescued.

6) Hunter- Are you in this (music) for the long haul?

Hank- “I am going to play as long as I can perform but I would prefer to retire on a good note and not try to play when I can barely hold a pick and guitar. As long as my health holds out I will make music. I have been on the road with a bus and a crew since about 1994.”

At this time I looked at the clock and it had been close to 10 minutes so I told Hank I knew my time was about up, he then told me “if you have anything else on your mind speak up”. Not wanting to miss this opportunity we went more into conversation mode. I asked him about Operation Happy Note which is a volunteer effort to send musical instruments to deployed service men and women throughout the world. Hank told me he was a big supporter of the troops and while on tour in Minneapolis he took part in signing two guitars for Operation Happy Note. We talked about his upcoming tour and the venues he chooses to play, Hank said “I would rather play the smaller venues to the smaller crowds over the larger amphitheaters.

When I asked him why, Hank said “I like the more intimate setting where I can be closer to my fans. Hank told me the folks who come to see him know he plays long shows that cross several styles. I could tell what really drives Hank is the fans. He reinforced this by mentioning the fans several times and referenced “crowd energy”. We then talked about how today you don’t need a label to put out an album, his exact words were “you don’t have to have a $500,000 mixer to sound good”.

I looked at the clock and we had been talking almost a half hour. I told him I appreciated his time as I knew he was a busy man. Hank then said what every fan wants to hear, “if you are into me I am into you”. This tells me that even though he is an outlaw, the fans matter. I got a real great feeling from our conversation and felt like I have known Hank for years.

I am definitely looking forward to the Lincoln Theatre show.


This was the second time I have seen The Johnny Folsom Four live and they are a fine tribute to the late Johnny Cash. To pay a worthy tribute to the man in black you have some large shoes to fill and you can tell these musicians take this very seriously. As far as creating the essence of a Johnny Cash show these fellas have got it together. Preforming some of the most popular Johnny Cash tunes such as Ring of Fire and A Boy Named Sue and a few that are not played as often as they should be such as Long Legged Guitar Picking Man. In case your are not familiar with The Johnny Folsom Four they are Randy Benefield, David Burney, David Gresham, Joey Ward, and extra special guest Miss Eleanor Jones. The crowd was really into the show and that was evident by the folks who made their way close to the stage and carved out a dance floor among the other fans.  These guys are based out of Raleigh NC which is fortunate for us as they play the area often. If you hear tell of The Johnny Folsom Four playing a show anywhere near you I would suggest you check them out. I have yet to see someone leave their show until it is over.

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I stopped in Slim’s sometime back to see the boys from Tonk tear it up with some old school Honky Tonk.  In this day and age of sorry Country Music seeing this band gave me some hope. There is strong evidence of the influences of this band from Waylon Jennings and Ray Price to Hank Williams, all country royalty.  If you are not familiar with the band they are: Graham Fry – vocals, guitar, Shep Lane – pedal steel, Ben Barwick – bass, Lin Peterson – guitar, and Bo Taylor – drums. They did some original tunes as well as some oldie goldies that brought the crowd back to another day and age of live music, at least for a while. I enjoyed the music thoroughly a niche of quality sound that at least in my opinion is not represented enough and it went perfect with a side of cold beers.  Tonk drew quite a diverse crowd of fans who came out to support the band and many stayed to meet and greet with the members after the show. There really is not too much more to say, this is one of those bands that is better understood in person then through words.

One thing that preys on my mind is the fact that for the most part Country music has gone to hell in a hand basket, I mean really. If you listen to Country radio today or even subject yourself to Country videos a blind man could see how bad it has gotten. Then I see my friend Russ Varnell play a show at  Deep South, a local music hall and I realize there is hope for Country music. It is not just me that sees the problem and that is evident in the crowd that shows up, packs the place, and lets it all hang out watching Russ and the Too Country band do their thing.  The Too Country Band is: Ricky Hagan – Steal Player/Harmony Singer, Roger Gilmore – Drummer/Harmony Singer, Evan Rose – Base Guitar,Curtis Church – Lead Guitar Joy Williams – female lead. Among the songs Russ let loose on the crowd were Act Naturally, Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes, Little Sister, Jackson (sung with their female lead Joy Williams ), Makeup and Faded Blue Jeans, Tiger by the Tail, Big in Vegas, and Johnny B Goode. Russ did some great covers as well as a few original tunes that were equally as Country. I understand everything changes but you can’t put lipstick on a hog and that is what they are trying to do with the current Nashville noise and call it Country. So let’s keep the country in Country music and call this other “stuff” something else that don’t insult the memory of Hank Williams. Russ put an awesome show that we all enjoyed and got the crowd all fired up. To summarize, the beer was cold, the music was hot, and the crowd was into all the above.


Well it was St. Patrick’s Day all over America and a crowd of folks elected to celebrate with Charlotte NC born Unknown Hinson at The Berkeley and man….what a show. First I will go over the facts, this band is loud and I would have to say with all honesty Unknown Hinson is as good of a guitar played as I have even seen in my life. There were several lengthy guitar solos that made my face get hot and my blood pressure high enough I had to thin my blood with a few cold beers. The expressions on Unknown’s face gives a little insight on what is going through his mind while he is making as his music. Honestly and truthfully this is a very talented trio with a unique sound. The best way I could describe his music is, this what country music would sound like if it got caught in a phone booth with a rabid Mountain Lion.
My first thoughts as the show began were “Dracula the musical” I mean this show oozed old Hollywood horror (before Hollywood went to hell in a hand basket). There was a creepy vibe that floated off the stage as if it was fog from a smoke machine.
A few of the songs the band preformed were Venus Bound, Undead Blues, Pregnant, Barbie Q, Ugly Things, Lingerie, Foggy Windows, and several more. One thing I noticed is the show drew all sorts of folks from rednecks to hippies to punks and a few I would be hard pressed to describe. That tells me Unknown’s music transcends some hard genres but I reckon that is what genuine talent and old school theatrics will get you.  I could go on and on about the show but be sure everyone in attendance enjoyed the show and stayed through the last encore. My advice to you is if The Country Western Troubadour Unknown Hinson comes anywhere near you make it a point to get a few friends together and go see the show.

John and Billie were a part of the Shadow Benefit that was held at The Berkeley Cafe Sunday the seventh.
John and Billie brought a traditional country sound to the Berkeley stage Sunday afternoon, a sound that is harder to come by in the days of cookie cutter pop country music. This new country music (I am using the term “music” very loosely here) is really noise that is cranked out to fill a quiet background. What John and Billie put together was the exact opposite of that, drawing the crowds attention and holding it by the throat until that show was over.  There were several original numbers as well as a few covers.
John did a fine job with vocals, guitar, and harmonica. Billie was amazing on the doghouse bass, I mean she really burnt up the strings. Billie also picked the banjo and guitar during the show as well as shared in the vocals and her and John’s sound meshed.
There was a bit of banter between the two and Billie gave John no mercy, it was a nice breather between some hard country music. I really enjoyed the show and appreciate their take on what country music should be.

The Stray Dogs made an appearance at the Pour House and brought along a mess of good country music.
Finding country music today is not as easy as one might think, oh sure you can tune your radio to one of the so called country stations that pollute the airwaves with mindless noise but you and I both know that is no where near what country music is (and it you don’t know that I would image this blog is not for you).
With that said The Stray Dogs did a mighty fine job. This was my first time seeing them, I had heard good things about the band but nothing like seeing first hand.
Nice work you all.

A video of the song Cowboy Boots sung by The Stray Dogs and recorded by George Reddin