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Hank Williams Jr.: Almeria Club
Review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill

Excerpts from the cd jacket: On a warm, muggy southern evening back in 1947, the Almeria Club, decorated with sweat and musical appreciation, hosted a gathering of unbelievable music and mayhem. Story goes an irate boyfriend busted into the Almeria looking for his sweetheart who was at the joint jiving with someone she shouldn’t have been. Tensions rose. Then gunshots. Hank Sr. and "Miss Audrey" jumped out a backstage window and escaped through the thicket and nearby woods.

Fast forward: On a warm, muggy southern evening in the 21st century, the Almeria Club, decorated with sweat and musical appreciation, hosted a gathering of unbelievable music and perhaps a little mayhem... "When I heard that story, that just did it for me. I just had to record my album at the Almeria Club, even though you could see the dirt through the cracks and there were poisonous snakes living under the floor."

Hank Jr.decided he wanted to begin work on his new album right there in that same building where his parents had performed. The former one-room schoolhouse was transformed into a recording studio. According to Hank, all the Almeria Club building took was some additional power. "The acoustics were absolutely perfect", he says. And that isn’t the only information you will glean from the informative jacket insert. Each song has a personal introduction written by Williams in his own words. This is the first time I have ever been captivated by an album jacket. Like a good book, I couldn’t put it down. It was as entertaining and as delightful as the music it covered.

In addition to the Almeria Club session, recording for the song "Cross On The Highway," was done with Bishop Marvin E. Donaldson at The Greater Pentecostal Temple in Kansas City, Kansas, where Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas' memorial service was held.

The next stop was the stage at the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveprot, Louisiana, which once housed the Louisiana Hayride, a KWKH radio show known as "The Cradle of the Stars." Hank Sr.'s career was launched there when he joined the Hayride in August 1948. Soon after, Hank Sr. moved to Shreveport, and Randall Hank Williams was born there May 26, 1949.

On the cd we are introduced to Thunderhead Hawkins; son of Luke the Drifter. I don’t want to spoil the surprise so you will have to purchase the album to find out who these two famous personalities are. I will tell you this much; their story is fascinating and the story behind the songs written by Thunderhead are also fascinating.

You will also find a tribute to Rufus Payne, AKA "Tee Tot", on this cd. "Rufus Payne, better known as "Tee Tot", never made a record, never appeared on TV, and never had his picture taken for us to see, explains Hank Williams Jr. "What he did do though was influence the entire world of music when he taught my father, as a boy of thirteen, to play the guitar and introduced him to the Blues. Daddy always said, "My musical education was learned at the school of Tee Tot." This song has been inside of me for a long time, and I'm glad it finally came out. I'm most proud of my tribute to Tee Tot."

Bottom line. This cd is even better than a good book; complete with terrific photos. "Almeria Club" IS the personification of entertainment. It is a musical, visual, rockin’, beboppin’, feel good, bluesy, country, toe-tappin’, jammin’, lyrical, historical trip through the stuff legends are made of. Hank Jr.... your Daddy is surely proud.


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