Hank Williams Jr. and his rowdy friends rock Alerus Center

Williams Jr. came on after two opening acts, including 2022 Academy of Country Music New Female Artist of the Year Lainey Wilson.

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Hank Williams Jr. performs at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks on Sunday, May 29, 2022.
Courtesy / Alerus Center: Toryn Jones
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GRAND FORKS — At 73 years old, can Hank Williams Jr. still boogie? And do his rowdy friends still come out?

It only took the Country Music Hall of Fame member about four songs to answer those questions Sunday at the Alerus Center.

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Hank Williams Jr. and his band perform at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks on Sunday, May 29, 2022.
Courtesy / Alerus Center: Toryn Jones

Rather than waiting until the end of the night to play his famous song "All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight," Williams Jr., a 2021 Hall of Fame inductee, pulled that hit out of the bag near the top of his set list. He didn't slow down after that, playing a nearly 90-minute set that included a host of his classics — among them "Born to Boogie" — and a menagerie of cover songs, including a few by his father, the late Hank Williams Sr.

Along the way, he played rhythm guitar, lead guitar, a rousing fiddle solo, some grand piano and a few acoustic songs, too — just him, a chair, a guitar and spotlight.

Williams Jr., a five-time country music entertainer of the year, was backed by a band of seven. He mostly played a white Fender guitar, but he flipped through instruments about as often as he changed headwear — he wore a series of caps and a replica hat like the one often worn by his father.


He also played a few of his dad's songs, including "There's a Tear In My Beer" (which Williams Jr. re-recorded over his father's original and made it a duet in the late 1980s) and a totally revamped and rocked-out version of "Kaw-Liga."

Among the other songs covered Sunday: A medley of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," with Williams Jr. playing a heavily overdriven lead guitar; a version of Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line," with Williams Jr. on acoustic guitar; "Whole Lotta Shakin'" by Jerry Lee Lewis, with Williams Jr. on piano; and ZZ Top's "Have Mercy," on which he also played guitar.

He interacted a few times with the crowd — which likely numbered north of 4,000 — and at one point said he was pleased to be playing in Grand Forks, adding "I'm going to play when I want to, where I want to and for who I want to."

At the end of his set came his classic "Family Tradition," and he prompted the crowd to participate in what has — for his followers and for barroom patrons listening to jukeboxes most everywhere — become a tradition of its own: fans interjecting phrases in between the lines of the chorus.

The crowd didn't miss the cue.

And at the end, confetti fell from from the ceiling.

Williams Jr. came on after two opening acts: Ben Gallaher and 2022 Academy of Country Music New Female Artist of the Year Lainey Wilson. The tour played in Billings, Mont., Friday night.

Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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