A Cullman County native, Hank Williams, Jr. will be heading home this weekend for Rock the South as the final act on Saturday night’s schedule.

During an e-mail interview, Williams told The Times about how he’s still living out the songs that he wrote and surviving as a country boy.

“My new album ‘Old School, New Rules’ is out and it is one of the best records I could have ever made,” Williams said. “It says what I wanted to say. It is available as part of a Blaster promotion in NAPA Auto Parts stores and everywhere else music is sold. I have a duet with Merle Haggard on the project.”

Williams discussed the preparation before this type of event and passed along his excitement about sharing the stage with some of his ‘rowdy friends.’

“Having Jamey Johnson and Gregg Allman on the show is great,” Williams said. “I typically fly in to each show and arrive just an hour before I go on stage, so I normally don’t know who is on the show with me. This one is great because I am going to be joined by a few of my rowdy friends. Jamey is a good friend and has land in Alabama too.”

Many wondered if having ties to the area had an influence in William’s decision to join the groups headlining Rock the South.

“Not really, I have a place in Troy, Alabama, that is my hunting area,” Williams said. “I get to Alabama many times throughout the year. A few years ago, I returned to see all the damage in the state after the tornadoes and that is why I organized the CMT telethon to raise funds for my fellow Alabamians. This event is just part of the tour for the year.”

Artists often have a trademark look, or something simple that fans remember or relate to the talent, and Williams said his are: “The hat, shades, and beard and they’ve never changed since the 80’s.”

Many singers and songwriters in the country genre give credit to Jr. for the impact that was made on them through his records. Williams said he was influenced by his “daddy.”

“Everyone has to make it on their own,” Williams said. “I was lucky that daddy was such a big star, but also I also had to make my own way. When I was a kid, everyone wanted me to sing like daddy. Everyone only wanted me to be a protégé of daddy. So it was a little harder for me than people realized when I started making my own sound and my own music. Remember, I had everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Fats Domino to Little Richard in my house teaching me music. So that helped me create such a diverse sound.”

Rock the South could potentially see 40,000 people over the two-day period based on ticket sales. Hank Williams Jr. will take the stage at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday night to close out the festival.

A final word from Hank Williams, Jr. as he shared what he enjoys doing or watching in his spare time is pretty simple: “College Football, the NFL, and baseball are my specialties.”

Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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