WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Honky Tonkin' with Patsy & Hank

Apr 11, 2018

Patsy Cline and Hank Williams never performed together. Her records did not hit the charts until 1957 – four years after he passed away.  But that didn't deter Macomb-based musicians Lysa Fox and Bill Maakestad.

“Bill had a poster that was printed that showed them at the Ryman Auditorium (in Nashville, TN), -- pictures of the two of them performing on one night, which would have never happened.  So we thought, 'If they can make up a poster, we can make up a show,’” said Fox.

The result is When Patsy Met Hank, which will be performed Friday, April 13, at the West Central Illinois Arts Center on Macomb’s courthouse square.  Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The music is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.  

Tickets can be bought through the Arts Center’s website, at the Arts Center during business hours, or at the door (if they’re still available).

The event is described as a casual evening of songs, stories, and memories.  The Boss Food Truck will be parked outside the arts center selling pulled pork barbecue, cheese fries, tenderloins, and more, and a cash bar selling beer and wine will be located in the Arts Center’s Blue Skies Room.

“We’re really trying to create a good Nashville-style honky tonk environment,” Maakestad said.

“This is not going to be a sit down, everybody be quiet and mind-your-manners formal concert.”

Fox and Maakestad said they will perform a few duets but for the most part they will take turns singing. They will be backed up by a band consisting of Randy Smith, Jim Betts, Matt Hughes, and Byron McChord. 

“He (Hank Williams) had a lifelong love of cowboys.  And he always named his bands some form of Drifting Cowboys.  So we tried to put together a band that was darn close to what he played with on a regular basis,” said Maakestad.

“So in that sense, you kind of have Hank’s band with Patsy Cline.”

Fox said that will make this performance unique because Cline’s band was much different than the ones employed by Williams.

“She had more of what we now consider a traditional rhythm section.  She had piano in her music, certainly the steel guitar which plays prominently in her music, the bass guitar, and even a drum set,” Fox said.

“But Hank Williams didn’t really use percussion or piano.  He used mostly strings.”

This will not be the first time Fox has portrayed Cline.  She said she has done the show Always Patsy Cline five times and is getting ready to do it a sixth time. She said Cline’s talent amazes her.

“I just think all of the little details that she plays with are phenomenal.  She was an incredible musician,” said Fox, who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Western Illinois University.