Concerts, Music Venues

Hank Williams, Jr. Brings a Few Rowdy Friends to Louisville

Hank Williams, Jr – by Jessica Blankenship

Hank Williams, Jr. brought along a few of his rowdy friends to Louisville on Saturday night at Freedom Hall. Being the second stop of the tour, fans were taken on a journey of music that is influenced by Bocephus before his performance.

Bluegrass group, The Grascals, filled the arena with the sounds dear to Kentucky, the Bluegrass State. Their album, “The Famous Lefty Flynn’s” was just released last Tuesday. The group collectively brought in the tight harmonies and instrumentation singing their bluegrass-country tunes. Their set list included their current single “Last Train to Clarksville.” Prior to the show, the band performed for tailgaters in the parking lot as they were welcomed inside.

Eric Church brought in some more high energy with his hard country-rock influenced show. At times, it felt as though fans were sitting at a Metallica concert rather than a country one. However, Church showcased his hit singles easing through the set list giving little time for talk. Fans were rocking along with several songs in the hour set list that included “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag,” “Smoke A Little Smoke,” and “How ‘Bout You”.

When Jamey Johnson took the stage, it was a very stark difference than Eric Church’s rock-fueled flashy performance. Johnson kept it simple by making it all about the music. Johnson is no stranger to Louisville, having recently performed at 4th Street Live last June and the Louisville Palace Theatre in November. Fans were treated with several selections off his new album, set to be released this summer, including “Back to Macon,” “Can’t Cash My Checks,” and “Sweet Mental Revenge.” However, Johnson relied heavily on newer material instead of falling back to the songs from his current album. He did not disappoint with the long southern vocals on “That Lonesome Song” and involving the crowd that sang note for note on “In Color” with a rousing response. Johnson concluded with “Give it Away,” the tune co-written with Buddy Cannon and Bill Anderson that George Strait made famous.

Before Hank Williams, Jr. took to the stage, it was evident that he made a good decision of openers. Throughout his performance, he infused the bluegrass, country-rock, and honest to goodness stone-cold country into his set list. Opening the show with “My Name is Bocephus,” Hank worked through the playlist of his career. Having many hits to sing in such a short amount of time, fans of particular songs were left out as he would sing a small selection before kicking it into another song. Being a man of many hats, Williams switched hats as much as he did song selections. He did showcase his instrumental talents by playing fiddle on “Kawliga”, which ended in him throwing the fiddle almost a little too far. He also performed “Jambalaya” and “A Whole Lotta Shaking” on the piano emblazed with “Bocephus” on the side in gold lettering.

Just as the crowd was getting rowdy, Williams calmed things down by filling a large portion of the show with an acoustic set. The acoustic set included “Outlaw Women,” “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down,” “Country Boy Can Survive,” as well as covers of the Dukes of Hazard theme and Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.”

Fans got back to boogieing with “Born to Boogie” and “All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight.” Just as the party was getting started, it ended with “Family Tradition” as Hank was joined in by Eric Church, Jamey Johnson, and the Grascals. Being that Hank Williams, Jr. only does 20 shows a year, it was indeed an honor to have Kentucky to host one in Louisville. Fans can check out the Grascals and Hank Williams, Jr. in Pikeville on the Rowdy Friends Tour.