Full House at Sunday’s Louisiana Hayride [Audio]
I was pleased to represent KWKH at the Louisiana Hayride's celebration of Hank Williams music Sunday at the Strand Theatre. The event was held with fanfare, kicking off a new era for the legendary show that began the careers of legends, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Carl Perkins, Faron Young, Jim Reeves, Slim Whitman, and many others.
Jett told me that she was "the Yvonne" in Jambalaya, and that her mother was singing, "I Can't Help it if I'm Still in Love with You," when she was born.
All you had to do was see and hear her to know she belongs to Hank. Jett's special guest Jeremy Parsons, whose idol is Jett's father, sang a song he wrote about the Hayride legend, "The Night Hank Williams Died." You can hear his music on his website at www.jeremyparsonsmusic.com
One of my favorite entertainers was 13-year-old Matthew Davidson. He stole the show with his guitar playing (used the slide like an Eric Clapton) and brought the house down with his version of "Move It On Over."
If that wasn't enough, blues kept coming with a kick from Grammy nominee Buddy Flett and his "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It."
Maggie Warwick and former KWKH announcer "Shot Gun Ken" Shepherd emceed the event, with old stories about the legendary entertainers who made up the Hayride. Felton Pruett, Stan "the Record Man" Lewis, Norman Bale, and former KWKH announcer Tom Pace added to the historical mix of entertainers. I didn't realize I was sitting next to the wife of a legend, Mrs. Virginia Franks, wife of Tillman Franks, who was crucial in making stars out of the legends before they were famous. The Hayride band still had some original members, such as famous bass player Joe Osborn.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker were there to help kick off the new Louisiana Hayride as a concert venue that they're looking forward to as a boom for tourism in the ArkLaTex.
Actor Henry Thomas, who played the young boy in the movie, E.T., and plays Hank Williams in the "Last Ride," told me he was grateful to have landed the role of such a legend, and that the movie was about the relationship between Hank and the young man, Silas, played by 22-year-old Jesse James.
Silas was the driver of Hank's Cadillac in The Last Ride. He told me he was excited for the movie premiere. Jesse played Silas, who took off on the road with Hank in the back seat, trying to make the show in Canton, Ohio, New Years Eve, 1952. The next morning, it was the news heard around the world that Hank was gone, as fans all over the world would cry.
Benjy Gaither, son of the most famous Gospel recording family in history- the Gaithers - performed with Texas singer/songwriter Tony Ramey. They were amazing together. In fact, Gaither is the executive producer of the new movie about Hank, The Last Ride, which opens in Shreveport at Tinseltown this Friday. Gaither, who is also music director for the film, collaborated with Ramey on writing and performing the music for the film, including the song they performed Sunday, "The Last Ride." Talk about a tear jerker.
Other stars included the Grammy winning Cox Family from Cotton Valley, and some other locals that were incredible.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne announced plans for "The Louisiana Hayride TV Special, " for the Bi-Centennial Year Celebration - marking the 200th year of statehood, making presentations to the cast from the new movie, Jett Williams and the Louisiana Hayride Foundation.
Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker also made presentations and talked with KWKH about the historical event.