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Hank Williams Jr. Keeps Up the Family Tradition

Hank Williams Jr. proves a country boy can survive.
Courtesy of Webster PR

Hillbilly Highway

It's not hard to believe the Coastal Conservation Association enlisted Hank Williams Jr. for its third annual Concert for Conservation, given all the hunting and fishing talk in "A Country Boy Can Survive" alone. What is hard to believe is that it's been some 13 years since Bocephus has performed in the Houston area. (What happened to all those "Texas Women," Hank?) Regardless, all will be forgiven if he plays his version of Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns & Money," because CCA has already invited his rowdy friends .38Special and Wade Bowen to join him Saturday.

At the career stage where occasional awards-show appearances are the extent of his dealings with Nashville, the ever-outspoken Hank Jr. is still making decent records of unfiltered Southern rock and honky-tonk — 2012's Old School, New Rules is a prime example — and not embarrassing himself over the so-called liberal agenda nearly as much as Ted Nugent lately. Rocks Off was lucky enough to have a chance to email Bocephus some questions earlier this week, and he was gracious enough to answer.

Rocks Off: What NFL team do you root for?

Hank Williams Jr.: The Pittsburgh Steelers are my team. I have been friends with the Rooney family for a long time. They have been very good to me over the years. I have sang the anthem, attended Super Bowls with them, and just have a friendship with their whole organization.

Why has it been so long since you played Houston?

I only do 25-30 shows a year, so I pick and choose where I perform carefully. You don't want to play the same places over and over and have the fans get tired of seeing you. So I spread out the shows and keep them wanting more. I performed in Houston several years ago and am glad to be coming back!

Were you especially close friends with any of the other so-called outlaws, like Willie and Waylon?

Yes, Willie is a longtime friend. Waylon was family to me. He took me on tour when I was just a kid and showed me what the touring life was all about. Jessi [Colter, Jennings's widow] still keeps in touch and we are very close friends.

That whole group of artists from George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and more were all good friends. As a matter of fact, June Carter Cash was my godmother. Not many people can believe that, but June and Momma were very close friends.

Hunting or fishing?

Both!!! As I said, I don't do many shows, and that is because of hunting and fishing season. I tour around those seasons for sure. I would rather be in hunting elk or turkey, or taking a little boy or girl out to get their first deer, than [be] doing anything else. It just is a peaceful day to be in the woods enjoying nature.

You've done some great covers. Do you have a favorite?

Not really. I do songs that I want to do. I don't listen to the radio, so I am not sure what is hot or not. I just listen to songs and I know pretty quick on whether I like them or not. I love Gregg Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and Run DMC...so you sometimes hear their songs in my stage show.

How about a favorite cover of one of your own tunes?

I think "Country Boy Can Survive" is a universal song that really connects with the fans. So I would have to say that is a favorite because I know what it has meant to so many fans. But let's not forget "Family Tradition" or "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight"!

You get name-checked fairly often by contemporary country artists like Jason Aldean, and Darius Rucker covers "Family Tradition." Do you listen to any of them that much?

I have spent some time with both of them. I like Eric Church; he is a good guy and we did some shows together. I even took him out metal-detecting to look for Civil War artifacts. I think he has a big career ahead of him.
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Hollywood Shuffle

Soundtrack of Our Lives
The 8 best soundtrack-exclusive tracks.

Corey Deiterman

Soundtracks were a huge deal in the '90s. They provided a chance for us to get all our favorite bands together in one place, like high-class, far more expensive mixtapes. They were such an affair that bands would release their best songs and greatest hits on these records, often sending a soundtrack soaring up the charts far past any one musician's own album.

For that reason, it's hard to look back at them as the cheap marketing ploys that they could be. When real musicians applied themselves to soundtrack appearances and Hollywood execs allowed them free rein over the product, it often became a must-own, even if the movie sucked.

 

Here are some of those songs that you could get only on a soundtrack that you just had to buy back then.

5. R. Kelly — "I Believe I Can Fly"

Like Coolio before him, Kelly scooped this one up for his subsequent album when it became a huge hit. Unlike in Coolio's case, it didn't make it to a Kelly album for another two years, so there was a long time when you had to buy the Space Jam soundtrack to hear arguably Kelly's greatest song ever.

Space Jam was big with pretty much everyone under the sun, and the soundtrack rocked. But the definitive highlight was Kelly's inspirational gospel jam, which inspires singalongs even to this day. It also happened to be Kelly's biggest hit, and as yet is unmatched in his discography.

4. U2 — "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, KillMe"

By the '90s, U2 had gone into their poorly received experimental phase. In retrospect, it was probably their creative peak. In any case, it was great when this song came out because it was U2 rocking again, even if it was for the Batman Forever soundtrack rather than a U2 album.

The Batman soundtracks of the '80s and '90s were all amazing, but this one holds a special place in my heart since it was maybe the first album I ever owned. U2's track, which never appeared elsewhere, is one of my all-time favorites from the band and holds up as a classic even now.

3. Smashing Pumpkins — "The End Is the Beginning Is the End"

While we're on the subject of Batman soundtracks, how about this one? The Smashing Pumpkins were in a weird transitional phase during this era, and it was generally their decline as a mainstream hit-producing powerhouse. That's because Billy Corgan quit writing rock songs.

But Batman required him to write rock, and he knew that. For Batman and Robin, he produced this, one of the Pumpkins' greatest rock tracks ever and still a popular hit after being resurrected for the Watchmen soundtrack in 2009.

2. Pantera — "Avoid the Light"

Our beloved Texan metal band released one of their last recorded pieces of music before their devastating demise for the soundtrack of Dracula 2000. It was an awful movie, but this is a powerhouse of a Pantera track, combining some of the best elements of their sound to create something that sounds little like anything else they ever did.

1. David Bowie — "Bring Me the Disco King (Danny Lohner Mix)"

"Bring Me the Disco King" originally turned up as the final track of David Bowie's 2003 album Reality. For the Underworld soundtrack, they decided to use that song, but they wanted something different, maybe more epic, for their purposes. Enter Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails, who remixed it with the help of John Frusciante, Maynard James Keenan, Josh Freese and Milla Jovovich, creating this amazing new and completely different version of the song.
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Live Shots

You Are My Sunshine
Parquet Courts: From stoned and starving to sunbathing.

Neph Basedow

In Journalism 101, students are taught to use adjectives sparingly, since their overuse actually weakens a description.

Parquet Courts, a band that's been descriptively categorized by critics ad nauseam, might be particularly interested in recalling this often forgotten journalistic rule of thumb.

Since their 2010 debut, the Brooklyn-based band has been frequently branded with (varied versions of) "slacker-rock '90s revivalists." While Parquet Courts's music does bear a striking likeness to at least the spirit of '90s golden-child bands like Pavement, the comparison really pisses them off.

Guitarist Austin Brown didn't hold back during our recent interview; he abhors those "lazy" descriptions.

A Beaumont native, Brown met his Parquet Courts bandmate Andrew Savage while attending the University of North Texas in Denton. He credits Texas as "a nice place to be from," but Brown couldn't wait to relocate to New York after college.

"I lived in Texas for 22 years," Brown notes, "and that was long enough for me."

"There's something exciting about the anonymity of living in New York that you can't get in Texas," he compares. "I moved here to have the opportunity to be openly creative without the fear of criticism from my peers. I think the band would have been written off pretty quickly had we stayed elsewhere."

Parquet Courts has been anything but "written off" lately; after the critical acclaim of last year's Light Up Gold, the band is readying the release of its follow-up, Sunbathing Animal — an album Brown hopes won't receive the same "slacker" label as its ­predecessor.

"Those 'slacker-rock' tags miss the point," he scoffs. "I guess the masses' idea was that we were this '90s nostalgia group and that we wanted to make our band sound just like the bands we grew up listening to — but I think those journalists were just phoning it in when they heard our record.

 

"What critics are hearing but not writing about our sound is that it's raw," he corrects. "Our records sound live — there are no polished elements to them. We're not putting on a nostalgia show," he stresses, "and we're not making music to emulate classic rock ­records."

Frustrated by these comparisons, Parquet Courts wrote Sunbathing Animal with some specific objectives.

"We went into the studio feeling misunderstood by mass popular culture," he explains. "So we made Sunbathing Animal much more deliberate and more lyrically forward, to better reflect where we're coming from. Light Up Gold was lyrically centered, too," he adds, "but maybe some people missed the point.

"If you miss the boat on this one," he says, "then I'm sorry for you."

Brown is snarky but sincere. He and his bandmates are music-focused and relatively DIY; they don't maintain Twitter accounts or post trite Instagram photos — an anomaly these days.

"It's boring!" Brown quips of social media. "I can't be bothered with that stuff. I mean, what more do people want from us," he queries. "You want to know what we ate for lunch?"

While Parquet Courts's attitude is brash, its members have certainly put a lot of care into the band's cause. So it's rewarding for Brown to see their dream not only materialize, but continue mounting.

"Everything has been increasingly and incrementally 'wow,'" he says of the band's building success. "Every step forward is something we've never done before — like being on TV," he notes of the band's television debut on The Tonight Show earlier this year. "That was something I never thought would happen." He's also eager to play Fitzgerald's on Monday — a Houston venue he deems "legendary."

Cautiously skeptical about the duration of his band's popularity, Brown is nevertheless grateful for their success.

"I've always believed in this band," he says. "I'm thrilled we're able to make the music we've always wanted to make. To actually have an audience appreciate it," he continues, "is something I never anticipated."

"I mean, who knows if we'll be around by the end of this year," he counters. "But I feel pretty good about what we've already accomplished."
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Ask Willie D

Naughty, Naughty
My 12-year-old daughter dresses like a stripper.

I'm feeling parental pressure to allow my 12-year-old daughter to wear clothes more fitting for a hooker. For instance, the last time we were at the mall, she wanted a pair of shorts that were cut so high that her butt-cheeks were showing.

She gave me the old "that's what everybody is wearing" line. When I refused to buy them, she said that she would buy them with her own money. I just threw my hands up and told her if she wanted to look like a slut to go right ahead, which she promptly did. I am tired of fighting her about her choice in clothes. Please help me figure this out.

Tired of Fighting:

Come on, Mom. Set the rules and enforce them. You're the adult, she's the child. But don't just tell your daughter she can't wear sexy clothes because she's not old enough or she might get raped. She thinks she's grown and rapists don't just rape girls in booty shorts. They go for loose sweaters and baggy jeans also. Break down the consequences. Let her know that while you realize she dresses that way because she wants to look cool and be accepted by her peers, the way she dresses gives people a perception about who she is.

Talk to her calmly and tell her when boys see a girl dressed provocatively, the number one thing it tells them is she's easy. Being perceived as easy comes with a myriad of problems, the greatest being damage to her reputation. While boys and men like looking at females with everything hanging out, they don't respect them. It's going to be a beautiful day when the time comes that young girls realize that they can be attractive without trying to look sexy. Attractive is intriguing; sexy is just sex.


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