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Previously Unknown Hank Williams Recordings from 1950 to ‘See the Light’ This Spring

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Hank WIlliams Garden Spot Omnivore

(Courtesy Omnivore Recordings and Conqueroo)

By Kurt Wolff

If you already own the ten-CD box set The Complete Hank Williams and think you’ve heard everything from that most legendary of country artists, guess again, because a new collection of previously unheard Williams recordings is set to surface this spring.

Hitting stores on May 20, The Garden Spot Recordings, 1950 is a new 24-song collection featuring recordings from Williams that haven’t been heard since they aired 64 years ago. Williams recorded these songs as part of a sponsored radio program — which was common practice at the time — and it features previously unheard versions of some of his classic songs, including “Lovesick Blues” (which he didn’t write but was his first No. 1), “Mind Your Own Business” and “Mansion on the Hill.” See the track list below.

In the liner notes to the collection, Williams biographer Colin Escott describes the context for these recordings. “Set the time machine for early morning on KSIB-AM, Creston, Iowa,” Escott writes. “February 1950. Country radio was beginning its slow transition from live music to DJ shows. Live music and DJ shows were augmented by transcribed shows. After buying 15 minutes of airtime on small-market stations, sponsors would prerecord shows with well known artists, duplicate them, and ship them out on 12 or 16-inch transcribed discs.”

And that, Escott continues “is how Hank Williams came to be on KSIB in February 1950. Sandwiched between the local ‘live’ acts, it was almost as if he were visiting with Skeets and those Radio Rascals. His sponsor was one of the nation’s largest plant nurseries, Naughton Farms, seven hundred miles south in Waxahachie, Texas. Given that Naughton was a big player in the nursery business, Hank’s shows were almost certainly shipped to many small stations, but only KSIB’s copies survived.”

And despite the fact many heard these recordings at the time, and many stations likely possessed the transcription discs at some point, they have since floundered in obscurity — even for a scholar of Escott’s stature. “Those of us who have studied Hank’s life and career had no idea that these recordings existed,” he notes.

Related: Ken Burns to tackle country music in upcoming PBS series

Hank’s daughter Jett Williams echoes her thrill at hearing these newly uncovered songs. “It’s incredible to me that we’re still finding new recordings by my dad — great ones at that,” she said. “No one even suspected that these recordings existed.”

Hank Williams Garden Spot Omnivore (Courtesy Omnivore Recordings and Conqueroo)

The album will be released on CD and vinyl by Omnivore Recordings, and will also be teased with a special Record Store Day EP.

The Garden Spot Recordings, 1950 track listing:

01. The Garden Spot Jingle
02. Lovesick Blues
03. A Mansion On The Hill
04. Fiddle Tune
05. I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye
06. Closing/Oh! Susanna
07. The Garden Spot Jingle
08. Mind Your Own Business
09. Lovesick Blues
10. Fiddle Tune
11. At The First Fall Of Snow
12. Closing/Oh! Susanna
13. The Garden Spot Jingle
14. I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind
15. I Don’t Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)
16. Fiddle Tune
17. Farther Along
18. Closing/Oh! Susanna
19. The Garden Spot Jingle
20. I’ll Be A Bachelor ’Til I Die
21. Wedding Bells
22. Fiddle Tune
23. Jesus Remembered Me
24. Closing/Oh! Susanna

Tracks 1 – 6 taken from Naughton Farms Garden Spot Show #4
Tracks 7 – 12 taken from Naughton Farms Garden Spot Show #9
Tracks 13 – 18 taken from Naughton Farms Garden Spot Show #10
Tracks 19 – 24 taken from Naughton Farms Garden Spot Show #11

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