It was inevitable that Hank Williams III would eventually follow his father, Hank Jr., and the legendary Hank Sr. onto the Horseshoe stage. The latest in a line of hell-raisin' country outlaws looked the part -- with his granddad's twig-thin frame, hollow cheeks and beady, coal-black eyes -- and for the first 20 minutes or so, he played the part, too.
Strumming an acoustic guitar and yelping nasal blue yodels over honky-tonk two-steps, Hank III conjured the feel of his departed forebear with chilling accuracy. It's no wonder hordes of seniors swore they'd seen the second coming after the look-alike adolescent's last Havelock appearance.
Still, you could tell that Hank III wasn't feeling the two-steps, and he quickly dispensed with the whole Hank Sr. charade.
Removing his straw stetson to reveal a long ponytail, the grinning Williams stepped on a distortion pedal and led his Damn Band into a raging punk rock stomp to let everyone know where his heart really lies. Former Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison, who'd been picking quietly in the shadows, began rifling riffs. For the first time, the sullen Hank III looked like he was having fun.
Suddenly, the Crimson Ghost stickers on his amp and the back of his guitar made sense. Hank III probably didn't hear much Jimmie Rodgers growing up -- it was Glenn Danzig -- so the thrash-and-howl approach comes naturally.
Just in case folks had trouble making the connection, they took a 60-second roar through the Misfits' We Bite, and then continued with corrosive swipes at everything Nashville.
Admittedly, the horror-billy concept needs a lot of work, and there probably isn't much money in it, but then, it beats the Hank Sr. revival shtick.
HANK WILLIAMS III AND THE DAMN BAND,opening for REVEREND HORTON HEAT, at the Horseshoe, July 26. Tickets: $22.50 and $25. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNN