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Hank Williams & The Driftin' Cowboys, Cosmic American Jamboree

From the cast of the Live Arts production
Hank Williams: Lost Highway
"Hank Williams & The Driftin' Cowboys"
LIVE on The Cosmic American Jamboree
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 1:00 PM

Dallas Wesley as "Hank Williams"
photo: Susan Saandholland
left to right: Dan "Jimmy" Sebring, Bahlmann "Shag" Abbot, Jeffrey "Leon" Justice, Dallas "Hank" Wesley, Thomas "Hoss" Gunn
photo: Will Kerner

"What happened to ‘ol Hank? Somebody heard him sing, that’s what."

And now, at Live Arts in Downtown Charlottesville, this musical pioneer is back in full force! The upcoming production of Hank Williams: Lost Highway features an incredible array of Virginian talent, and on this edition of The Cosmic American Jamboree, that ‘ol Lovesick Blues Boy himself, “Hank Williams”…… and all the “Driftin’ Cowvboys,” make a special lonesome stop at WTJU’s Live studio. The musical spectacular’s director, Fran Smith , will join the cast, and Aer Stephen of Folk & Beyond will join The Cosmic American Jamboree’s Lonesome George and Pintops Stephen, and you may find yourself in a dreamy “opry” time warp. So “run to the phone and call to your neighbor…… and tell them that Hank Williams is on the air again!”

Dallas Wesley stars as “Hank”, hails from Lynchburg, Virginia, and has written, recorded, and produced two albums of original material and played live shows both throughout Virginia and abroad. In the fall of 2009 he was invited to England to play in the Buckingham Music Society Festival. Ever since he first picked up a guitar at age 13, he has been playing and writing. He wrote and recorded his first full album, No Cover, at age 23, and his second, Glimpse of You, a year later. He is currently working on his third. Joining Wesley is an impressive array of musicians and actors, including the remarkable quartet that portrays his band, “The Drifting Cowboys.” Dan Sebring (electric guitar) has taught music in Charlottesville for over 30 years. He has been a member of The Blue Ridge Chamber Orchestra and the Chesapeake String Quartet and instructs classes in strings, jazz, rock, and classic guitar. Bahlmann Abbot (pedal steel guitar & acoustic guitar), a lifelong guitarist and song-writer, has long drawn inspiration from the music of Hank Williams and his fellow country pioneers. Thomas Gunn (bull fiddle bass), a graduate of Berklee with a degree in film scoring, has been playing and writing music for over three decades. And Jeffrey Justice (fiddle), who has been acting since age 12 and playing violin since 17, trained in jazz at the Berklee School of Music. The Hank Williams: Lost Highway cast will additionally feature Aer Stephen, Deidre Wesley, Jane Lynch, Mary Beth Revak, and Steve Smith, and the bygone time will come to life once more and be performed at Live Arts from March 19 to April 11.

The biographical musical production will follow the life of legendary singer/songwriter Hank Williams, from his incredible rise to fame to his tragic self-destruction at age 29. This innovative and entertaining play, by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik, juxtaposes the songs of Hank Williams with dramatized episodes from his personal and professional life. Hank Williams’ soulful, timeless country tunes have inspired covers by musicians from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong, Beck to Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline to Ray Charles. In 1961, Williams was the first artist elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1987, he was inducted into the third class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his incredible influence in the development of American pop music. Born Hiram King Williams in Mount Olive, Alabama in 1923, Hank Williams learned gospel music from his mother—the organist at a Baptist church—and blues and pop from a black street musician. At age 16 he formed his first band, an early incarnation of the group that would become his legendary “Drifting Cowboys.” By age 23 he had moved to Nashville, where he landed a recording contact with MGM in less than a year. His 1949 release, “Lovesick Blues,” stayed at the top of the Country & Western Top Ten chart for fifteen months, and when he debuted on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage in the same year, he earned six encores. In less than four years, Hank Williams had produced 11 million-selling singles and had topped the Country & Western Top Ten chart 36 times. His classic songs—from “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”—endure as true American classics, speaking to fans of country, blues, pop, and rock music alike. Williams paved the way for a new era of country music: the work of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Williams’ own son Hank Williams Jr. would not have been possible without his pioneering artistry.

Hank Poster

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