WANT TO GO?
11th-annual Hank Williams tribute concert
Sponsored by FOOTMAD
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Culture Center Theater
COST: Adults $20, seniors $15, students $10, children under 13 free
INFO: 304-415-3668 or www.footmad.org
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Lilly doesn't get tired of Hank Williams. For the past 11 years, Lilly, singer/songwriter Rob McNurlin and a collection of others have performed an annual tribute to the music of the man.
On Saturday night, the show returns for the second year in a row to the Culture Center Theater.
"It's the same cast of characters," Lilly said. "We've brought in Dan Kelly this year. He's a top-notch fiddler in Nashville and plays with Clint Black, among others."
Lilly said they're glad to have him. The annual show is important to Lilly, who said he's been an informal scholar of Hank Williams for the better part of 30 years.
"I was a fan of Hank Williams since I was a little kid," Lilly said, "but I wasn't really aware of all the legends and lore around him until I took a job at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I met people. I heard stories."
Lilly said he couldn't count the number of times he'd been told "the real story" behind the American music legend's death, including his last ride, which began in Knoxville, Tenn., and was supposed to end in Canton, Ohio.
"Everyone remembers he was supposed to play Ohio on New Year's Day," Lilly said. "People forget that he was scheduled to appear in Charleston on New Year's Eve, but his flight got turned around and he couldn't make it."
Instead, he wound up trying to make the drive in the middle of the night, only to be found dead near Oak Hill, W.Va., on Jan. 1, 1953.
Williams's last night has taken on mythic qualities, Lilly said. Some of the legends of that drive describe a more complicated route than the one Williams took, with a variety of stops and little adventures before the singer eventually, quietly died in his sleep.