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It's time to hear some Hank this weekend
Mickey Gilley and Hank's daughter Jett Williams among many performers this weekend in Georgiana
Most everyone who knows his music thinks of him by one name: “Hank.” To Jett Williams, he’s a lot more.
“I think of him as dad,” said Jett, daughter of the late, great country music legend Hank Williams Sr.
Though he died in 1953 at age 29, Hank left behind a legacy of music with hits like “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Hey, Good Looking’” and many others. He also left behind a baby girl, Jett, whom he never had a chance to meet.
“My personal favorite is, ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,’” said Jett.
This weekend, Jett and a host of other singers and groups are gathering at Hank’s boyhood home in Georgiana for the 37th annual Hank Williams Festival, Friday and Saturday at Hank Williams Music Park.
“I’ve been performing for 24 of the years,” said Jett. "I think it may be one of the oldest country festivals in the country, if not the South.”
This year’s event could see even more interest from Hank's fans, and may even draw in a few new ones, thanks to the recent release of the movie “I Saw the Light.”
“I thought Tom Hiddleston did a superb job,” said Jett. “He portrayed my dad wonderfully. He’s a skilled actor and I thought he did real will with the music."
When Jett first began performing, she did so with her dad’s group, The Drifting Cowboys. “When I started out there were two original members, Jerry Rivers and Don Helms. But they’re both deceased now,” said Jett. “I actually have another band. They came with me last year. We’re a lot heavier on acoustics. We don’t use the drums and go back to more of the, you might say Americana, but I would call it back to the ‘Hank’ sound.”
Jett said she's seen babies who were at her early shows grow up and come back as adults. “And I’m holding their babies,” she said.
Georgiana’s festival will feature a performance by another country music legend, Mickey Gilley. “He’s just a true showman and entertainer,” said Jett. “It’s like sitting there visiting with an old friend…. And he loves Hank Williams.”
Other acts include Lottie, Southern Legends, Brad Magness, Mary McDonald, Colin Leatherwood, Starla Jones, Elaine McMillan, LACS, Scott Brantley, and many others.
“There is a lot of acts and a lot of talent down there,” said Jett. “That’s what makes the Hank Williams Festival, I think, is that there’s always good entertainers. You know, there’s something for the folks to do. It’s a family show.”
On Thursday, just before everything kicks off, they plan to have a free karaoke night.
The festival will also feature arts and crafts, and plenty of food from the food court.
While guests are enjoying the festival, which takes place on the grounds of the Hank Williams Museum, 127 Rose St., in Georgiana, they can come in and visit Hank’s boyhood home.
“I would like for them to relive a great memory that’s all inspired by Hank Williams’ music,” said Jett.
Tickets will be sold at the gate for Friday and Saturday. Friday tickets are $20 each, and Saturday’s are $30 each. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult.
This is an outdoor event with no reserved seating. Guests should bring their own lawn chairs, but no lounge chairs. Also, pets, coolers, and outside food and drinks are not allowed.
“Come on down. It’s on the weekend and they’ve got RV spots and other accommodations,” said Jett. "Just come on down and bring your friends. Come make some new friends. It’s a place in the heart of Alabama where you can go hear some good Hank music.”
For more information on the festival, contact Gerald Hodges at 251-626-4086, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the festival at hankwilliamsfestival.com.
“There’s only one Hank, and there will always only be one Hank,” said Jett.