Hank Williams Jr. isn’t the first musician to attest that blues and country music are different, but also share several similarities. The 72-year-old hitmaker’s sound was built on the core fundamentals of the swing-worthy genre, as he learned from his famous father, Hank Williams.
“The blues is where it all comes from,” shared the second-generation Country Music Hall of Famer. “It’s the start of everything musical in my family; everything starts with Tee-Tot and flows from there,” he added.
Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, was the local blues performer who taught Williams Sr. how to play guitar growing up in Greenville, Alabama.
After decades of honing in on his artistry and pulling inspiration from others to strike a delicate balance between the two genres – Williams Jr. is officially leaning heavily into the blues side of country with the track, “Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here.” The faith-centric melody is included on Williams’ forthcoming 12-song collection, “Rich White Honky Blues.”
“I’ve always flirted with this stripped-back blues – all the way back to the ’80s. But I finally made an album that’s just that, and I like it,” he added in a statement.
The old-school classic “Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here” was penned by country blues singer-songwriter Lightnin’ Hopkins and Barbara Dane. The genre-bending artist turned to critically acclaimed producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to reinvent the melody.
In order to fully deliver the rich sounds that make up a country blues ballad, Auerbach assembled an impressive band of electric slide guitarist Kenny Brown, bassist Eric Deaton, and drummer Kinney Kimbrough – son of North Mississippi blues legend Junior Kimbrough.
“If you wanted to play this kind of music, you couldn’t have better players,” said Auerbach about the band. “The first time I ever saw Hank Jr. on TV, I was a kid raised on Robert Johnson and Hank Williams, Sr. records, and those things came through so clearly watching him. So, I tried to assemble the right parts to just sit in that piece of who he is.”
Their dynamic in the studio shines through in their recently released music video for “Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here.” Director Tim Hardiman effortlessly transports listeners into Williams’ inner circle of instrumentalists, as they make magic in a recording booth in Nashville, TN.
“My brother Dan, the band, and I did our thing in the studio for a few days,” shared Williams. “And this video gives fans a look behind-the-scenes…in a room together, just playing the blues.”
The video seems like Hardiman used a dated camcorder to cultivate an old-world aesthetic that symbolizes the rich history of country blues. Throughout the captivating clip, viewers will watch each musician play a vital role and see snapshots of a quaint town in Mississippi. The quick glimpses serve as a friendly nod to the genre’s origin, as country blues can be traced back to the early 1900s in the Mississippi River region.
“Just perfect for an old southern hymnal,” Williams mentioned before pointing out the underlining message. “It’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy ourselves.”
The GRAMMY-winning producer told CMT that the “Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here” music video, also is as a great sneak peek at the forthcoming record.
“This song perfectly encapsulates what it was like to make this record,” he declared. “You can hear us hanging out before we slowly fumble our way into the song. It’s a very raw and real moment in the studio caught on tape,” he concluded.
“Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here” will not be the only cover on Williams’ 57th studio album, as fans will hear renditions of hits from Robert Johnson, R.L. Burnside, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, and even original tracks. “Rich White Honky Blues” is set for release on June 17 and will test out the new material on his nationwide 2022 trek. Williams will wrap up his tour on August 13 in North Lawrence, Ohio. Tickets are available for purchase, here.