Eric Church’s Hunt With Hank Jr.

Star and Legend Team Up for an Unusual Expedition

They’ll have a ball opening the 49th annual CMA Awards tonight, but Eric Church and Hank Williams Jr. know how to have a good time offstage, too.

Their friendship goes back about six or eight years, when Church was opening shows for Bocephus. The country icon said folks told him Church was the real deal, and according to him, “they were right.”

So Williams decides to nurture the friendship by showing Church the ropes of a favorite pastime: hunting for Civil War artifacts.

With a metal detector on hand, the two struck out one day to find the perfect treasures – and they did.

“He got about 20 or 30 bullets that day and a perfect U.S. buckle and his eyes got about that big, he was hooked!” Williams said. “He said, ‘This is the greatest hobby in the world … Where can I get one of these? I’m gonna have one tomorrow.’ And I told him where to go.”

Their onstage reunion tonight will bring a performance of Hank Jr.’s new single “Are You Ready for the Country,” a popular Neil Young tune that Waylon Jennings recorded back in 1976.

The 49th annual CMA Awards air live tonight at 8PM Eastern on ABC.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.