Annual tribute to Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams returning to Old Town Tavern
A great Ann Arbor holiday tradition returns to the Old Town Tavern on Saturday, when Chris Buhalis presents his annual salute to Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt.
There's no cover charge for the show, which generally packs Old Town for an evening of some of the best country songs ever written. Buhalis, a respected local performer and songwriter in his own right, will perform with Dave Keeney.
Both Williams (Sr.) and Van Zandt died on New Year's Day, hence the date of the annual tribute.
Williams, of course, remains one of the most revered names in country music. Although he died at age 29 (in 1953), his legacy remains firm thanks to deathless songs like "Cold, Cold Heart," "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Move It On Over," and so on. No less than Johny Cash memorialized his impact in the song "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town."
Buhalis knew and briefly worked with Van Zandt, the Texas-born singer and songwriter whose reputation has only grown since his death in 1997 at age 52. Van Zandt composed some songs that became major successes for other singers ("Pancho and Lefty," "Tecumseh Valley," "If I Needed You"). His songs are regularly recorded by alternative-country performers, and he's often cited as an influence. Last year Steve Earle released a tribute album called "Townes," and Van Zandt's own recording of "If I Needed You" was featured prominently on the soundtrack of "Crazy Heart," the Jeff Bridges movie about an aging country star.
The tribute is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, at Old Town, 122 W. Liberty St. Information: www.oldtownaa.com
Townes Van Zandt performs "If I Needed You":
Hank Williams performs with Anita Carter: