Blending blues, folk, gospel and cowboy tunes into a short career, Hank Williams left an indelible mark on the American musical scene in both lyric and sound. Having lived a life that was as troubled and reckless as that depicted in his direct, emotional songs, he was a superstar by the age of 25 and dead at the age of 29. In those four short years, he established the rules for all the country performers who followed him and, in the process, much of popular music.
Patsy Cline, also one of the greatest singers in the history of country music, helped blaze a trail for female singers, inspiring them to reach top billing. Her rich tones, emotional expression and bold contralto made her a sensation. She was a gift to the country scene which, with the onset of Elvis and rock & roll, was fading. Patsy also has one of the most legendary auras of female country singers -- perhaps due to her early death in a plane crash in 1963. Occurring just eight years after Williams' death by heart failure, the tragedy cut Cline off at 30, just as she entered her prime with a score of wise and vulnerable songs. Her influence, like Williams, was huge and remains so.
"Hank helped invent country music; Patsy helped save it," relates Jason Petty, the award-winning star in "Country Royalty," a lavish music tribute at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14. Together with Petty, the celebrated country swing singer Carolyn Martin co-stars with accompaniment by Petty's stellar band on acoustic guitars, upright base, steel & electric guitar and fiddle. More than 20+ chart-topping hits will fill the night, timeless tunes like I'm So Lonesome I Could Die, Jambalaya (On The Bayou), Hey Good Lookin', Move It On Over, I Saw The Light, Walkin' After Midnight, Sweet Dreams, Crazy, I Fall To Pieces, Strange, Back in Baby's Arms, Leavin' On Your Mind and Someday.
Petty stars in the first half and Martin, a Grammy nominated singer and an AWA "Western Swing Female Vocalist of the Year" winner, stars in the second half. Between songs, a biographical narrative written & delivered by Petty, explains the impact of these country icons.
"It'll give folks a nice taste of front-poch storytelling & front-porch singing."
Petty wrote the show following years of playing Hank Williams at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and on Broadway, where he won the Obie Award and Drama Desk Circle Award.
The show delves into the thick of how Hank & Patsy lived their lives and how they died. However, their personal tragedies are not the focus.
"While the way that Hank lived and died is important, it is how he changed the industry and how he affected people with his music that matters. For sure, he was the first contemporary country artist to live hard and die young, leaving a lasting impression. But I rather focus more on his legacy, his music and the ironies and stories behind the songs and how they got recorded. The same holds true for Patsy Cline and her amazing impact on the industry."
Seats ($69 & $66) are available! Call the Box Office at 575.336.4800 or go to www.spencertheater.com for tickets. A pre-show Short Ribs Buffet will be available for $20 at 5 p.m.
In Brief • Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m. Country Royalty: Jason Petty & Carolyn Martin Pay Tribute To Hank Williams & Patsy Cline ($69 & $66). Jason Petty, the 2003 Obie Award winning star of Hank Williams: Lost Highway joins forces with Carolyn Martin, the 2008 Western Swing Female Vocalist of the Year in tribute to two of country music's greatest legends. Tunes like Dream, Walking After Midnight, Someday, Sweet Drams, Hey Good Lookin', Jambalaya, Your Cheatin' Heart, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry will be performed with impeccable musicianship! The show also features Petty's band on upright bass, steel guitar, fiddle, electric guitar & drums. A public pre-performance Short Ribs Buffet will be in the Crystal Lobby at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person.