The legends are interesting, Lilly acknowledged, but it's not why people keep discovering his music.
"I think there are two reasons, really," he said. "The first is his records. There was so much sincerity in his voice, and the records are really crisp and uncluttered. Hank was really the apex of that era of country music and kind of leading up to what country music became."
The second reason, Lilly said, is his songwriting, which, he added, is really what Hank Williams was truly successful at -- more so than his singing.
"If you're looking for a good song, you really don't need to look any further than Hank."
It's not just that the lyrics are so strong; the songs are malleable. Melodies can be turned around and changed and freshened up without a lot of effort.
Lilly said his and McNurlin's show, sponsored by FOOTMAD, tries to honor the memory of Williams, the lore and the love of his catalog.
"It would be easy to take last year's set list and just slide into it," he said. "but we don't. It's never the same show every year."
The format of the show is the same, though. The first half of the program is dedicated to what Lilly calls "the hits."
"These are the songs anybody with a passing familiarity of Hank Williams's music will know," he said. "It's for the casual fans."
These would be songs like "Your Cheatin' Heart," "I Saw the Light," "Jambalaya" and "Hey, Good Lookin'."
The second half is for the deeper fans.
He said, "That's where we bring out 'Log Train,' 'Moanin' the Blues' or 'Angel of Death.' We play the Luke the Drifter stuff."
Luke the Drifter was an alias Williams used for some of his material that was outside his usual style of country music. The alias was supposed to distance Williams and his well-known hits from these off-brand recordings, but Williams barely bothered to keep Luke a secret and performed the songs live.
The second half of the show isn't just the more obscure parts of the Hank Williams catalog, though; it also features some updated takes on some of his better-known songs.
"We try to throw some different arrangements at people," Lilly said. "It's fun to give people a few surprises, even if they're fans."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.