It was a very busy weekend in New York City and while it was Saint Patrick’s Day I had begun my celebrating in the most un-Irish of manners by seeing the Finnish Glam Rockers ½ Naked perform down at Riff Clothing. That was fun as I am a fan of their sound and now it was time to continue the musical revelry by heading up to the Gramercy Theatre to enjoy a free performance by Hank 3. For those who are not in the know, Hank 3 is actually Hank Williams III and he is the grandson of the legendary Country Music icon Hank Williams. He is also the son of Hank Williams Jr. and hence the “III” that he utilizes. A lot of my friends are fans of the musician but I had to admit that I was walking into this one on the blind side but still no less interested at all. The whole thing was hosted by Metal Wreckage and it was great to find myself invited to participate in the fun. Here is how the show went down for those who somehow missed out.
When I walked into the Gramercy I ran into a fellow photographer who had seen H3 a number of times in the past and he informed me that we would be treated to not only the two Metal sets that had been announced but also a Country one and that intrigued me all the more. Since I was technically a newbie, I was not going to be aware of any of his songs and I would just have to let my musical mind digest the whole evening as an educational experience. That’s not a bad thing to do sometimes. For the Country set, H3 appeared with a full on compliment of players in terms of a lap steel player, a banjo, a fiddle, a stand up bass and a drummer hidden behind all the amps. Hank 3 played the acoustic guitar and obviously sang for this rousing and energetic performance. I didn’t catch all the names of the tunes from this part of the set but I did get some of the ones that I liked the most such as “Ghost To A Ghost” which was a slower almost bossa nova sounding tune. It was interesting. Two more of the fun numbers that I liked the most were “Smoke And Wine” and his “Dick In Dixie” with the latter being my favorite of them all based on the lyrical content. The Country group played about 35-40 minutes and when they were done Hank asked the house to play some background music so they could set up for the next presentation. The interesting thing was that there was no real “lengthy break” between sets as we often find at the shows and more like a ten minute reprieve before they would go at it again.
Hank 3 returned with his hair pulled out of the braid he wore and there was no cowboy hat this time and very minimal light. Instead there were images and video being shown on the screen behind him and this was now the Attention Deficit Domination set and more along the lines of a Stoner/Doom presentation. It was very heavy and crushing at times so if you were just walking in now you would have never known this dude had just finished a beer drinking, six gun shooting Country set. There was a lot of an Alice In Chains vibe going on in this set and I would later learn how the album itself was dedicated to the memory of Layne Staley, so I guess its musical makeup aligned with that. I felt that this set’s mission was to put you in a certain “head” while it was delivered and if you watched the crowd everyone was moving with it accordingly. This seemed to be a longer set than the Country one or perhaps it only felt like that since the songs were longer than the often quick paced flair of the previous. Either way I was really enjoying myself. I would venture to guess that he played the whole album by this project of his. After it finished some running around on the stage commenced as Hank 3 and his band mates prepared us for the 3 Bar Ranch set of the night.
3 Bar Ranch was the “Country Metal” set or as my peers in the venue had called it the Death Metal set. Hank was joined this time by a second guitarist and each of them sported cowboy hats and wore bandanas that shielded their faces from the audience. Hank was also wearing some kind of armor chest plate which really brought the whole grim identity to life all the more. Musically speaking these were some true Death Metal riffs and as I had been able to see the set list that was on the stage can say that almost every tune seemed to deal with being a cattle herder. As we found in the previous set, Hank would sing or growl his way through each and every number and occasional trade solo riffs with his partner in Metal crime. I would normally say how well worth your money this show was but it was free so it was actually beyond worth it. The music from this particular set came from the album “Cattle Callin’” and it was as expected much different from what we had heard before this set began. After they finished this part, Hank said goodnight and then his guitarist Davey McElfresh remained, now unmasked and did some guitar flair for another fifteen minutes or so. The interesting thing to learn after the show was that this was also the fiddle player from the earlier Country set. It was closing in on midnight and the fully packed Gramercy had enjoyed a 2 plus hour show for nothing. What a way to spend a Saturday night. Hank popped out after all was said and done and met with fans at the photo pit barricade. He posed for photos and signed things. Since he did not use signature guitar picks he actually scribbled three lines on the ones he used if someone asked him for a pick. That was pretty cool and is a total memory at the end of the day.
Thanks again to Metal Wreckage and the folks at Red Music, Stache Media and of course Hank 3 for giving back to the fans. This kind of stuff is awesome and just another reason that NYC is an amazing place to enjoy music. So much does go on and can go on at any given time. I will definitely hit another Hank 3 show if the schedule permits me to. He was that entertaining.
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Official Web Site: www.hank3.com
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