Hank Williams remains one of the semifinal figures in country and American music over 60 years after his death at the age of 29 in 1953. His voice, style, original material, and personality all combined to make him one of the stars of the post-World War II – pre-rock and roll era. Songs such as “Cold Cold Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin,’” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Jambalaya (On The Bayou),” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” have becomes an accepted part of the musical landscape.
Every so often some previously unreleased material surfaces, which brings is to Naughton Nurseries in Waxahachie, Texas. Part of their advertising was Naughten Farms Garden Spot programs that featured Hank Williams singing five songs in a 15 minute program. Naughton bought time on dozens of radio stations and distributed the show for airplay and hopefully increased sales. No known copies of these shows were thought to exist until the recent discovery of four shows originally aired on KSIB-AM, Creston, Iowa.
Given the age of the original transcription discs, the producers have done an excellent job of re-mastering the sound and bringing it into the modern age. The release is augmented by some rare photos and liner notes by Williams’s biographer Colin Escott.
The Garden Spot Programs consist of 20 songs and four “Garden Spot jingles.” The shows, #4. #9, #10, and #11 in the series, are presented in order. Given the close proximity of their original release dates, there is some repetition of material.
At the time these shows were presented every week so he would sing a number of songs that were not usually a part of his repertoire. While “Lovesick Blues” remains one of his classic compositions; songs such as “Oh Susanna,” “Wedding Bells,” “Jesus Remembered Me,” “Mind Your Own Business,” and “At the First Fall of Snow” travel a different road than much of his well-known material.
The programs also present a laid-back Hank Williams. His presentation and patter show a relaxed musician at the height of his popularity.
I don’t know how much more unreleased Hank Williams material is out there but The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 is a fine example of his style and sound outside of the studio. It is a treasure for any fan of Williams or of the history of country music.