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Curtiss A and the Cold Cold Hearts. Tribute to Hank Williams

This may sound blasphemous but Curtiss A’s tribute to country god Hank Williams seems more authentic than his annual Dec. 8 salute to rock god John Lennon at First Avenue.

While the Lennon marathon gets overrun with too many musicians participating at once, marring the simplicity of early Beatles music, Curt is committed to making sure he’s done it Hank’s way (including drummer Johnny Haga playing only one snare and a hi-hat).

In fact, this Hank tribute is pretty terrific, from Curt’s perfectly drawling phrasing and lonesome croon to Randy Broughten’s pedal steel teardrops and Dave Boquist’s mournful fiddle. Add in some sweet guitar licks from Dale Strength and Curt’s predictably freewheeling but often funny patter and stellar musicianship makes it two hours of classic country entertainment.

Yes, Hank died at age 29, in 1953, in the backseat of his Cadillac but left an incredible catalog of songs as Curt and his band of cowpokes demonstrate.

The dean of scream gives his sidemen a chance to sing lead. Singer/acoustic guitarist Jim Boquist on a swell “Lost Highway” with other guitarists to help him navigate, “Mind Your Own Business,” the very dramatic “Cold Cold Heart” with its elongated phrasing, and the gospelly “Angel of Death.”

As always, Curt will fill the night with his eccentric humor, covered music, He said the boys couldn’t decide on a name for the backup band but suggestions included the Hirams (Hiram is Hank’s given name), the High Yellers, the Long Gone Daddies and the Cold Cold Hearts.

Band name or not. There’s no doubt Curtiss A’s Hank Williams tribute should be presented at least a couple times a year.

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