CincyMusic.com caught up with Arlo McKinley (Tim Carr), Moriah Lawson, Sylvia Mitchell and Kelly Thomas about their upcoming release, Spirits of Hank featuring the 8 songs originally recorded by Hank Williams at Herzog Studios at 811 Race Street. The space is no longer a studio, but it has been obtained by The Cincinnati U.S.A. Music Heritage Foundation. It functions as an event space and is filled with photos of many of the artists that have recorded in the space. Arlo McKinley & Friends recorded the album in the Herzog space with a live audience. The event was emceed by Edwin Vardiman, of Straw Boss. The narration share some stories from the recording sessions, from August and December, 65 years ago. They are included in the live album being released this Saturday at The Southgate House Revival!
When did you first fall in love with the music of Hank Williams?
Arlo McKinley- I was introduced to Hank Sr.'s music at a very early age. In the home I grew up in, bluegrass and classic country music was everywhere. My father would spend his down time listening to such acts as Hank Sr., The Stanley Brothers, Seldom Scene, Doyle Lawson and many others. The first Hank song I remember hearing was "Setting the Woods On Fire" and at that moment I fell in love with music. It was the first time I think I had ever heard honest music. Hank didn't come off as a celebrity to me, it was more like an uncle or neighbor giving me the life lessons of a rambler. Having the opportunity to be a part of this tribute is a huge honor, I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to do this with.
What feelings did you have performing/recording at Herzog Studio given the significance of the event?
Moriah Lawson- This project became a family. It has been an amazing experience to be inspired by, and to grow with, such impeccable musicians. Having the chance to preserve these songs while simultaneously putting our own marks on these classics, was fantastic enough. To do it in such a richly historical place as Herzog Studios was truly a priceless experience for anyone who understands its importance.
This city has harbored and inspired droves of ground-breaking, talented and timeless artists. It has contributed a rich legacy that still thrives and breathes in our modern city. To work with these people on this project is something that I will never forget, and have never taken for granted its rarity in how perfectly everything worked out.
Was there a reason behind who sang which song?
Kelly Thomas- It really just fell into place naturally, as has everything about this project. It came about after I had asked Arlo McKinley to record a song for my Sacred Harp Sessions. We both wanted to do a Hank tune and he chose, “Lost Highway”. Tyler Lockard (bass), Sarah Davis (vocals) and Sylvia Mitchell (fiddle/mando) joined us for that project. The song inspired me to pursue recording that session in the space and pushing the piano in the shot that Hank is said to have practiced on while in Cincinnati. It gave the series the perfect starting point; History, and in the narration I talk about King Records and Herzog Studios. We all felt such a connection to Hank and our own history after that session. Shortly after, I was asked to perform at a benefit for The Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation at Southgate House Revival. Rather than just play with one of my bands I thought it would be way more meaningful to do Hank’s songs recorded here. I reached out to the folks who were a part of “Lost Highway” and then we invited Moriah Lawson to join us. We actually learned most of the songs for that show, so as the August 30, recording anniversary was approaching, we got inspired to record the tunes live, in the space, like an old-time radio show. It came together perfectly. When it turned out so good, I asked the crew if they wanted to release it as an album on the other anniversary date. It all just really came together in a very cool and easy way. When that happens, I always feel like it’s that magic stuff that gets you where you are meant to be.
What to expect at the CD release
Sylvia Mitchell- these musicians have come together under the umbrella of Hank Williams with a unique collective spirit of cooperation that resonates on stage . Their combined energies will give Hank's music new life in the beautiful SGHR sanctuary.
Kelly Thomas- We’ve also invited friends; Buffalo Wabs and The Price Hill Hustle and Straw Boss to share the night with us. Both bands emulate an old-timey feel. We want to create an atmosphere that reflects the history of the songs. We’re encouraging folks to dress 40s style and there will be a dance instructor on hand to teach dances of that era. It should be a great time!
Spirits of Hank CD Release
The Southgate House Revival
Saturday December 21st
Admission only $5 in advance/$7 dos
Admission and CD $10 in advance/$12 dos
A portion of the proceeds benefit Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation!
Can't make it to the show? Go Buy a CD HERE!