Entertainment

Showboat season closes with Hank Williams tribute

Laura Barton

By Laura Barton, Tribune Staff

Joe Matheson performs as country music star Hank Williams in his show Hank Williams Live 1952. Supplied photo

Joe Matheson performs as country music star Hank Williams in his show Hank Williams Live 1952. Supplied photo

Port Colborne’s Showboat Festival Theatre season is closing with the music of Hank Williams with Hank Williams Live 1952 Friday and Saturday.

Of course, Hank Williams himself won’t be there as he died in 1953, but his music and personality will be reflected in a performance by Joe Matheson. Matheson created and stars in the show, donning a cowboy hat and guitar as he sings out Williams’ songs.

He said he wrote the show, during which he stays in character as Williams the entire time, after portraying the musician in other shows that depicted his darker points in life. He felt there must be more to the man than just the not-so-positive moments, so he started doing his research to find out how things really were with Williams.

That research included speaking with Don Helms, who played the steel guitar for the real Hank Williams.

From the stories he’s learned, Matheson has put together the show. He describes it as if fans were going out to a bar to see Williams. As Williams, he’s in that fictional bar, but singing real songs the man wrote and sharing some of the man’s real life stories.

He said it’s a “foot-stomping” and enjoyable show, which he’s taken all across Canada. It’s the first time it’s in Port Colborne.

The show is not something he takes lightly despite how much he enjoys it. He said he and the five people who perform the music with him have respect for the man and his music, and do their best to bring it to life for his fans.

Indeed, he said people have come up to him after the show and told him it sounds just as if Williams himself was singing it and his band playing it.

“That’s the biggest compliment to me,” Matheson said.

The show isn’t just for country music fans. Matheson said because Williams’s music has been covered by many artists across a number of genres, many people enjoy the show. And as new covers and music influenced by Williams come out, he finds even the younger generation taking interest.

“I’m constantly amazed at the mix of people that come out to see it,” he said.

He said he doesn’t feel much pressure about it being the last show for Showboat’s season. It’s also the last show for the Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s season, and he said he hopes to bring both venues’ seasons to a close with a great show.

Tickets are still available for the three shows taking place at Showboat’s theatre. Show times and tickets are available by visiting www.showboattheatre.ca or by calling the box office at 905-834-0833.

lbarton@postmedia.com

Twitter: @LBartonTribune 



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