The Athens Review
Jacksonville Daily Progress
The life and music of Country’s first superstar comes to life with Jake Penrod in Hank Williams Remembered at 3pm on Saturday, March 8 in the Nacogdoches County Civic Center.
A stark traditionalist, Jake Penrod is as close to Country as Country gets. If you’ve ever heard him sing, you’ll whole-heartedly agree.
Although he names Hank Williams Sr. as his all-time greatest influence, take a listen to his new album, “Closer To Me,” and you’ll hear everything from the Honky Tonk stylings of Lefty Frizzell, Hank Thompson, and Ray Price to heart-breaking ballads that would make Conway Twitty proud.
Jake says it was his dad, Jack Penrod who “put the music in me” and a TV ad for a Hank Williams gospel album that “started the whole thing.”
Jake praises his parents for their support of his musical efforts, “Mom hauled me all over creation to gigs and Dad bought and taught me to play my first guitar.”
Penrod joined the Gladewater, Texas, Opry cast in 2005 and played in various other opry venues in Texas. His trademark, of course, was his uncanny resemblance to the King of Country Music. When he took part in memorial activities in Montgomery Alabama at the Hank Williams Museum, he began getting recognition outside his home of Brownsboro in East Texas. The New Year’s Eve Celebration that marked the anniversary of Hank’s death was held at the museum. It was there that he met David Church, a well-known tribute artist. In 2007, he received word from Church that a theatre in Buffalo, NY was producing Hank Williams: Lost Highway and they needed someone to be “Hank”. After submitting a CD and some photos, Penrod got a call the next day hiring him (sight-unseen, mind you) as the new “Hank” for a production 1600 miles from home.
Since then, Jake has performed as Hank Williams on numerous legends tribute shows at the Gladewater Opry, Texas Star Opry, and the Louisiana Jamboree in Shreveport, LA. He has also traveled to larger concert venues outside of Texas to present his tribute to Country Music’s first superstar. Audience members have often shared their enthusiasm for Jake’s tribute after performances; some even come away a little emotional. Jake said his favorite was a man who said that his performance gave him “duck knots,” which he explained were “bigger than goose bumps and take longer to go away.”
In 2009, after extensively researching five biographies and countless documentaries, Jake wrote Hank Williams Remembered, a tribute to Hank in which he narrates and sings 22 classic Hank Williams songs. He is currently touring the country performing the show with his “Honky Tonk Cowboys” comprised of former members of Hank Thompson’s Brazos Valley Boys and Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys. Jake says, “It’s truly an honor to perform with these gentlemen, some of whom have been playing this music since it was created.”
Aside from his ability to eerily recreate a Hank Williams performance, Jake Penrod is quite an entertainer in his own right. He occasionally surprises audiences with a near-operatic vocal range and enjoys covering the hits of artists like Ray Price, Johnny Bush, and Faron Young, as well as a number of original songs. He is a prolific songwriter and composer and has written more than 100 country songs, several instrumentals for steel guitar, and two military marches (a passion he acquired from playing in high school and college band). He plays a total of fourteen instruments (piano, organ, trumpet, guitar, harmonica, fiddle, mandolin, lap steel, pedal steel, ukulele, accordion, banjo, bagpipes (yes, bagpipes) and bass) and takes pride in being musically obsessed, with a collection of several hundred records including many obscure titles from singers, both famous and forgotten.
He has opened shows and appeared alongside many great entertainers such as Ray Price, Tony Douglas, Narvel Felts, Moe Bandy, Little David Wilkins, Tony Booth, Jody Nix, Leona Williams, Jake Hooker, Bobby Flores, Heather Myles, Johnny Bush, George Hamilton IV, Frankie Miller, Miss Norma Jean, Darrell McCall, and Curtis Potter. He has been featured on such television programs as RFDTV’s TruCountry, Texas County Line and currently appears weekly on RuralTV’s Texas Pickin’ Party as a vocalist and steel guitar player for the band.
Nacogdoches County Civic Center is located at 3805 NW Stallings Drive. Tickets are $20 advance and will be $25 at the door. For credit card orders, phone 888.218.6464. To learn more and to view videos of Penrod, visit www.HankWilliamsRemembered.com.