Sunday, January 27, 2002
Nashville, Tenn. How's this for being out of fashion? When Lost Highway Records put together a tribute album to his father last year, Hank Williams Jr. wasn't asked to contribute.
"Yeah, I heard about that and I thought, 'Gosh, they never called,"' the 52-year-old country music singer said. "Maybe I didn't get the message."
But the record label did ask his son, Hank Williams III, who did a song on the Grammy-nominated "Timeless ï¿½ Hank Williams Tribute" CD.
Hank Jr. brushes off the slight. But it shows the odd turn his career has taken. Although deeply grounded in the blues and other American roots music, his bombastic image prevents him from fitting in with the trendy alternative country crowd that's embraced his son.
Radio stations have turned away from his new music, preferring younger country stars. Without airplay, Williams, who's sold millions of albums, hasn't been able to expand his fan base.
"I don't know about radio," Williams said. "We've got so many artists, and every one of them are 18 to 20 and there are beautiful new girls with great voices. I don't know what chance I really have."
His new CD, "Almeria Club," may provide the answer. It's his first album in three years ï¿½ and the best in more than a decade. Williams jumps effortlessly from blues to rockabilly to country, and he's thrown enough curves into the mix ï¿½ including guest spots by Kid Rock and bluegrass group Nickel Creek ï¿½ to generate interest.
Williams, who has managed the difficult task of creating a separate identity while acknowledging his heritage, has tapped into a bit of family lore for this new CD.
It all began with an invitation to a fish fry in Troy, Ala. It was there that he discovered the Almeria Club, where, according to legend, his father and mother jumped out of a window one night in 1947 when things got violent.
Williams loved the story, so he brought in audio equipment and recorded most of the new CD there.
"I've made 70 or 80 albums, so I have to look for ways to make each one special," Williams said. "The 'Almeria' was a natural, and the musicians said it was the most fun project they had ever done, way out in the middle of south Alabama."