It was the best of both worlds Saturday night at the F.M. Kirby Center as Girls Guns and Glory played two fabulous sets in the chandelier lobby. First, the quartet from Boston played about 30 minutes of its roots rock originals, then with the addition of a young, female fiddler, the band played more than an hour of country standards composed by the legendary Hank Williams.
“I’ve always said that country music and rock ‘n’ roll are very close cousins,” lead singer and guitarist Ward Hayden said. “You don’t get one without the other.”
The band, which has released five albums of originals and “A Tribute to Hank Williams – Live!” since 2006, started the first set with “Mary Anne” from 2011’s “Sweet Nothings.”
“One of These Days” from the band’s most-recent original album, 2014’s “Good Luck,” quickly followed; and then lead guitarist Chris Hersch sang a spirited version of Del Reeves’ trucker anthem “Looking at the World through a Windshield.”
Undoubtedly the most poignant song of the evening was “Centralia, PA,” an ode to the nearly abandoned Columbia County town and its 50-year-old mine fire. Inspired by a late-night TV documentary, Hayden visited and researched the town and came away with lines such as “Then the state bought out the town and the fire it still burns” and “The government took its zip code and it disappeared.”
To lighten the mood, Hayden then sang one of his newest numbers, “Empty Bottles,” inspired by a recent move and the fact that it’s easier to drink a tiki bar full of alcohol than to move it.
GGG followed with “All the Way to Heaven,” a rare positive love song in its repertoire, and ended the first set with “This Old House” from “Sweet Nothings.”
After an intermission, the Williams set began with “Ramblin’ Man,” which was originally released as a B-side in 1951. The No. 2 hit from 1952, “Honky Tonk Blues,” was next; then it was on to “Hey Good Lookin’,” a chart topper from 1951.
GGG made its point about the close kinship of country and rock ‘n’ roll by revving up “Moanin’ the Blues” until it sounded like something by Buddy Holly and The Crickets.
The audience sang along with “Move It On Over,” and all band members – Hayden, Hersch, Paul Dilley (electric and upright bass), and Josh Kiggans (drums) – chipped in a verse for “Dear John.”
The second set continued with Williams’ version of “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which Hayden said was Williams’ own favorite of the many songs he wrote.
A rock ‘n’ roll version of “Mind Your Own Business” sung by Hersch followed, and Hayden
resumed lead-vocal duties for “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and “You Win Again.”
GGG snuck in an original, “Rockin’ Chair Money” from “Good Luck,” and another truck driving song before finishing up the tribute set with “I Saw the Light.”
The band returned to the “Good Luck” album for its encore of “Shake Like Jello,” which brought the crowd to its feet for a little bit of dancing and a well-deserved standing ovation for the band’s efforts.
Amanda Hrycyna|For The Weekender
Brad Patton has been reviewing concerts and writing about music for the Times Leader and Weekender for more than five years. He also hosts a two-hour radio show on 88.5 FM-WRKC (Radio King’s College) every Tuesday at 7 p.m.