Hank3 ‘is of a dying breed of musician,’ family tradition

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On Tuesday, Aug. 14, Shelton Hank Williams, grandson of the illustrious Hank Williams, better known as Hank3, filled Albuquerque’s Sunshine Theatre with a mixed bag of die heart fans.

He’s “the son of a son,” and until you’ve seen him live, you’ve never seen a mosh pit full of punks, cowboys, hillbillies and Navajo rockers form at a country show.

Ungelbah Daniel-Davila-News-Bulletin photo: Hank3 filled Albuquerque’s Sunshine Theatre with a mixed bag of fans last Tuesday night. Here, he swaps his guitar for a banjo for the song ‘Trooper’s Hollar,’ about his hound dog, off his new album ‘Ghost to a Ghost.’

As an aside, I’m always touched by the loyalty of Navajo fans, and wonder how many musicians stopping for a show in little old Albuquerque know that a large part of their crowd consists of individuals that have traveled from as far away as Farmington, Gallup and even Shiprock on a work night just to see their favorite band play.

They usually take over the front row, and, in my opinion, they earn that right.

As promised, Williams dedicated the first hour and a half of his 3 1/2 hour show to his signature “country” sound, which is really a hybrid genera of music all its own and wholly unique to the grandson of Hank.

Mixing traditional hillbilly and honky tonk sounds — replete with banjo, fiddle and stand up bass — with hardcore punk rock and heavy metal influences, Williams’ music spans multiple genres, and, in the process, unites as diverse a collection of followers as I’ve ever seen.

There were even a couple of belly dancers doing undulations and snake arms over on the side.

From the middle aged to the teenage, to the gutter punk to the cowboy, Williams brought the scenes together, uniting natural opposites under one roof with some wicked banjo picking and fiddle playing that would make the devil nervous.

Looking like a gutter punk cowboy, with patched jeans, a long braid and a bent up western hat, Williams and his band looked as though they’d be more at home at a post-apocalyptic moonshine still in the Appalachian Mountains than on a stage in New Mexico.

Well known for his ability to play several instruments, through the first half of the show, Williams primarily played guitar, but switched with his banjo player for “Trooper’s Hollar,” a song off his new album “Ghost to a Ghost” about his “old brown and white” — a hound dog named Trooper.

At one point, crowd members unfurled a Confederate flag and tossed it on stage during his song “Dick in Dixie,” paying homage to Williams’ unabashed rebel pride. After the country set, a brief intermission occurred when a movie screen was mounted at the back of the stage that began playing an eerie montage of ’50s- and ’60s-era footage, from Vietnam war clips to commercials for household appliances.

This was the backdrop for the “Hyde” part of what Williams has called his “Jekyll and Hyde” show. For this set, the stage was completely dark, save for one green light on Williams’ mic stand that cast his face and long hair in a spooky glow while he performed music off his new doom rock album, “Attention Deficit Domination.”

This part of the show was not for everyone, and the crowd cleared out quite a bit, but I was captivated by the musician’s transformation. His musical diversity is as broad as the crowd he draws.

And while he is lesser known for his harder music, Hank, the metal head, is as integral to his unique overall persona as his hillbilly roots. His exploration of a diverse musical plethora, as evidenced by the release of four very stylistically different albums, is, in my opinion, what is lacking most in today’s music industry.

For me, Hank3 is of a dying breed of musician — the rebel artist who, against all odds, pushes and redefines the boundaries and limitation of their industry.

But then again, maybe it’s just a family tradition.


-- Email the author at udavila@news-bulletin.com.