45th Hank Williams Sr. Festival set in Georgiana

Published 9:15 am Monday, May 20, 2024

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Written and Provided to the Star-News by Gerald Hodges

The 45th Annual Salute to a Legend will be held Friday and Saturday, May 31-June 1 at the Hank Williams Music Park in the friendly, southern town of Georgiana, Alabama.

For several years, Williams and his mother lived on the property where the festival is located. Festival goers will be serenaded by the CSX freight train whistles as they roll by. Some fans have even reported hearing lonesome sounds when the wind is blowing just right through the trees surrounding the festival and Hank’s boyhood home, which is now a museum.

There will be no shortage of talent at this year’s festival. The superstar band Diamond Rio will take the stage on Friday night, while American Patriot/singer, Craig Morgan will headline on Saturday.

Morgan is one of those rare individuals that has balanced his military service and music career.

He served almost 10 years of active duty in the US Army with the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. During his time in the service, he won awards for songs that he wrote and performed for his fellow soldiers.

The “Almost Home” singer rose steadily through the ranks and was told by one of his senior officers that he was on the fast track to becoming a major.

“But he also told me, ‘I think that you have a talent and at minimum you ought to pursue it,’” Morgan said.

He was advised to stay in the active reserves while he pursued a career in music so that he could return to the military without losing time in service or rank if he decided he wasn’t on the right path.

Morgan launched his music career in 2000 and found success with the release of his second studio album, “I Love It,” in 2002. That same year, he joined his first USO tour in Iraq.

“You can continue to do your job that you’re doing,” Morgan told Fox News. “Like me as a touring artist, I’ll still be able to live my life and tour and do all the things that I do while serving my country at the same time.”

Morgan’s top 10 songs are: “Bonfire,” “Wake Up Lovin’ You,” “Almost Home,” “Every Friday Afternoon,” “This Ain’t Nothin,” “Little Bit Of Life,” “Something To Write Home About,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” “Tough,” and “When I’m Gone.”

In addition to his current singing career, he is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. He is assistant bandmaster for the 313th Army Band, based in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Morgan will take the stage on Saturday night about 9 p.m.

In addition to Craig Morgan, this year’s lineup of entertainers on Saturday will feature: Brad Magnets, with Ronna, and Tammy Sue, Colin Leatherwood, Starla Jones, Edward Johansson, Mary Battiata, Terry Smith, Morgan and Wes Brown, Aaron Moss, along with the bands; Flashback, New Vision, Burning Busch Family, Today’s Yesterday Band, The High Aces, The Chilton County Gospel Singers and others.

The Band Flashback with members Larry Nichols, Leroy Thomas, Tripp Bass, Marty Campbell, ET Thomas, and Buddy Manning, will play backup for most of the entertainers.

Saturday, June 1, the gates open at 8 am. Entertainment starts at 9 pm. Admission is $60.

Friday’s night’s headline act, Diamond Rio has been one of the most popular country music bands for years.

Originating as The Tennessee River Boys in the 80’s, the band evolved into Diamond Rio in 1989.

They have sold more than 6.8 million albums and surpassed over 1.05 billion global streams, Diamond Rio has charted 20 Top 10 singles, 15 Top 5 singles, and seven No. 1 singles.

At this year’s Hank Williams Festival, fans can expect to hear some of their most popular songs, which include: How Your Love Makes Me Feel,” crossover hit “One More Day,” as well as timeless hits “Beautiful Mess,” “Unbelievable,” “How Your Love Makes Me Feel,” and many more.

They will take the stage about 9 p.m.

Entertainers that will appear on stage before Diamond Rio include: Edward Johansson, Brad Magness, with Ronna and Tammy Sue, Colin Leatherwood, Mary Battiata, Terry Smith, Morgan and Wes Brown, the bands: New Vision, Flashback, Burning Bush Family, Today’s Yesterday Band, The Chilton County Gospel Singers, The High Aces, and others.

Brad Magness is back after an absence of several years. The Bean Blossom, Indiana singer and band leader has appeared on the Georgiana stage for nearly 30 years, more than any other entertainer.

Friday, May 31, fans can enter the park at 2 pm. Entertainment begins at 3 pm. Admission is $40.

Thursday, May 30, at 6 pm, there will be a free karaoke session.

The festival is located on the grounds of the Hank Williams Boyhood Home and Museum. It is held under a covered pavilion, which means fans are not exposed to the sun, and the festival will go on, rain or shine. Adjoining the stage area are vendor and concession booths. Admission to the museum is free with paid ticket.

There is no reserved seating. Bring your lawn chairs. No lounge chairs, coolers, food, drinks, or pets can be taken into the park.

For additional information, call 334-376-2396, or log on to: www.hankwilliamsfestival.com.

To reach the festival, take I-65 Exit 114, and go one mile east.