Hank Williams Jr. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Hank Williams Jr.

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Hank Williams Jr. has been embraced and vilified in equal measure, but his detractors consistently underestimate the fact that Bocephus has always been that most formidable and unfathomable of opponents--the smart redneck. In his prime he was the quintessential partying id man ("All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight"), the proud and paranoid isolationist libertarian ("A Country Boy Can Survive"), and the depressed, aging realist ("All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)"). His crude, outsize personality, taste for booze, bongs, and babes in bikinis, and occasional right-wing rants have turned more tasteful folks off, but take the time to explore his frequently brilliant discography and you'll find proof that he's rocked country harder, meaner, louder, and more personally than anybody going. Hank Jr.'s outlaw stance is sadly lacking from the current country ranks, which have become bloated with soft-rockers and overly sensitive folkies. And sure, he's spent years obsessing in song about the namesake he never really knew, but then again, so have a lot of other folks; he didn't mention his old man's name once on his 1993 release Out of Left Field--so I won't either. Friday, 8 PM, Star Plaza Theatre, I-65 and U.S. 30, Merrillville, Indiana; 734-7266.

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