Hank Williams Jr. is hoping for all the nostalgia and none of the gunfire when he journeys to Almeria, Ala., next week to record tracks for his new album. The recording will take place at the community’s social club, a former school building in which Williams’ father and mother staged one of their more memorable — and hazardous — shows.
“Hank Sr. , in 1947, played on the same stage with his wife, Audrey,” explains Williams’ manager, Merle Kilgore. “It was packed. Someone got excited and started shooting a gun, and Hank and Audrey jumped out of the windows and took cover. It’s been a legend. Folks still talk about it.” Kilgore describes Almeria as “a tiny little community right outside of Troy, Ala. It’s not even on the map.”
Even though the site is close to where Hank Jr. has his own place, he had never visited it. “So,” Kilgore continues, “he said ‘Take me to the Almeria.’ … He looked at it and said, ‘Man, this place is in great shape.’ We called [co-producer] Chuck Howard, and we sent him down with [a recording] engineer to check out the place. He said the sound was just great. … [The project is] going to be kind of like a country blues album. We’re going to have a lute and an autoharp, and Hank has got some great songs.”
Although the album won’t be recorded live before an audience, Kilgore says that CMT and other media have been invited to document the event. The album’s working title, he adds, is The Almeria Club and Other Selected Venues.
Recently, Williams recorded a song he wrote for the album, “Cross on the Highway,” at the Greater Pentecostal Temple in Kansas City, Kan. Backing Williams on this tribute to Derrick Thomas, the Kansas City Chiefs player killed in a 1999 car accident, is the church’s 60-member choir. “It’s just so great it puts chills in you,” Kilgore says. The album is due out in September.
Williams will record three blues songs for the collection with Kid Rock at the younger artist’s studio in Detroit. The two will also co-produce these tracks. Kilgore notes that Williams and Kid Rock have become buddies: “He comes down here all the time. Hank took him hunting. He calls him his adopted son. He’s the same age as Hank III.”
The Almeria interlude, Kilgore promises, will be a seriously Southern experience: “We’re going to have butter beans and all that kind of good homemade food down there.”