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Show proves to be fitting tribute to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline
Tuesday, 04 June 2019 11:26
Special to the Daily Planet

FLAT ROCK    Two of the greats were given their due recently at the Flat Rock Playhouse.

Hank Williams and Patsy Cline Country Royalty, a  tribute show to the two country music legends, ran there May 2-12 to near-capacity crowds,

The show started off with a batch of Hank Williams classics sung by 10-gallon-hatted tribute artist Jason Petty, Backed by a tight five-piece band, he in a close-to-the-real-thing voice, opened the show by singing  Hey, Good Lookin.

Petty went on to preface Move it on Over with his opinion that the song marked the invention of rockabilly. Released in 1948, the record was Williams first hit..

Lovesick Blues came soon after and Petty reported that it was the song that made Williams a national  star. He sang it the first time he was on the Grand Ole Opry and they had him do eight encores. They wouldnt let him leave the stage, Petty said.

The song stands out also in that Williams performed it and recorded it, but did not write  it most of the songs he sang were originals. What Hank loved doing most was writing songs,  Petty said. He stuck pieces of paper in his hat band and in his wallet. He had the fattest wallet in Nashville.

Petty, at one time a member of Nashvilles Music Row scene, relayed an incident where a prospective producer introduced Williams to an attractive young woman, then  shut him off in a room to see if he could then come up with a song. The result in rapid fashion was I Cant Help it If Im Still in Love With You.

You Win Again according  to Petty, was written one day after Williams learned that his wife Audrey was having an extramarital affair. She was the love of his life, Petty noted.When that marriage ended, it was the beginning of the end.

Pain medication and alcohol probably were bigger factors in the demise of Williams ,who at age 29 died of heart failure. Petty reported the death came in the back seat of a Cadillac while Williams was on his way to play a 1953 New Years Day show in Canton.Ohio A mournful version of Im So Lonesome I Could Cry followed, as the FRP crowd reacted with near silence. Sing Sing Sing, a Williams gospel song came next and things seemed to brighten up.

Things brightened up more when tribute artist Katie Deal took over the stage to spotlight Patsy Cline. In cowgirl garb, she started off singing an upbeat number called Honky Tonk Merry Go Round. After that, she sang her rendition of Walking After Midnight, the song that in 1948 first put Cline on the charts.

Then  came the gospel classic Just Another Closer Walk With Thee. 

Next, Deal  sang a rock n roll song Cline recorded called Got a Lot  of Rhythm in My Soul, followed with Strange, a  rhumba that was the B side  of a Cline single. This, said Deal, proved Cline could handle many different styles. 

Country, though, was Clines mainstay and in a voice that was solid country but not as expressive and  big as Clines Deal, sang Crazy, I  Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and other Patsy Cline standards. 

Cline didnt write songs; Deal said, noting that it was the way she delivered them that made her special. She could personalize a song. She could make iit feel like you were having a conversation with her.

The first woman elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Cline, paved the way  for younger female country artists, Deal said.

In  Deals view, Cline also helped broaden country musics overall appeal. For instance, in the early 1960s, Cline adopted The Nashville Sound, with its orchestras and  full-blown choruses, Deal explained. It got people, whod never listened to country music before, listening.

In 1964 at age 30, Cline died in a private airplane crash. Her recording of Sweet Dreams was released shortly following the tragedy. 

In evening dress , Deal closed her portion of the two-hour  show with an  emotive reading of the song Sweet Dreams.

The grand finale came with the reappearance onstage of Petty. He jumped into I Saw the Light, the best-known of Williams gospel songs. He urged members  of the mostly  grey-haired crowd  to clap and sing along and many did.



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