Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hank III

Hank III
Slim's, San Francisco, CA
July 24, 2007

It's not often you get a message from the CEO of your company that says "I'd like you to go check out Hank III tomorrow night..."... but that's exactly what happened to Umlaut. So after making sure I was sorted for a +1, Mark D. and I found ourselves at Slim's for work.. Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it's off to work we go...

Despite the Metal overtones of this space, Umlaut has been into Old Country (Cash, Patsy Cline, Waylon, George Jones, etc.) and Alt-Country bands (Uncle Tupelo, Old 97's, Whiskeytown, etc..) for more years than he's been Metal.. 'Tis true.. I'm a sucker for a twangy Telecaster and a good song lyric, boy.

Hank III is unique. He has the troubled legacy of his iconic grandfather to deal with along with the shadow of his father. It's probably an ideal psychological case study that Hank III has gravitated and embodied the legacy of his grandfather. Discuss amongst yourselves. For the newbies: If you haven't, y'all should read Colin Escott's excellent biography of Hank Williams.. I tell you what, he was a Rock Star before there were Rock Stars... sure 'nuff.

Hank III is also unique because his music and attitude owes as much to his Punk and Metal roots as to his family history.. He's covered his grandfather's Honky Tonk classics. He's covered Black Flag and adopted a variation of "The Bars" as his logo. He played bass in Superjoint Ritual. A man of many talents who you know doesn't take shit in The Pit or at The Bar.

If you haven't seen Hank III live, his show can be described the same every time: Beer drinkin' and singin'.. and there's nothing wrong with that! It was impressive that the sold out crowd rose to the occasion on a Tuesday school night during the Hellbilly country set. I'm hard pressed to remember the last time so many beer cups flew through the air at a show... but the crowd wasn't an annoying drunk hipster crowd. They were a drunk MUSIC crowd, and there is a difference. Beer drinkin' and singin', but folks still managed to be polite if they bumped into you ("Excuse me!"). Good people.. It was also one of the more diverse crowds you'll see mixing: Punks, with Rockers, with full-on Country fans, with an Oriental thrown in too.

After the rollicking Hellbilly country set it was time for Hank III and his band's Assjack punk set.. which was fun.. for about 4 songs... and then Mark D. and I decided to bail. After the Country set, the Punk stuff was, like, boring.. Besides it WAS a school night.

The next day I traded e-mails with the CEO and gave him a show report. I think he got caught up in my enthusiasm for Hank III because his final e-mail of the day to me (an otherwise business related message) closed with "Hank III Rules!!!" For better or worse, Hank III is now helping to pay my mortgage.. Dog bless him.

These days I keep blowing off doing a merch tally because sometimes numbers hurt my brain... but I did chat with the merch girl. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. From now on Umlaut will try to live by the motto "Putting the "o" back in Country.." Amen.