TUPELO • Hank Williams Jr. was just a month old when his father made his Grand Ole Opry debut, singing “Lovesick Blues” and garnering six encores.

Hank Williams, who nicknamed his son “Bocephus” after comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy, had fewer than than four years left to live.

He spent much of that time performing for the fans who would celebrate his contributions, but during radio performances he would send a message to his son, closing shows by saying, “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.”

When Williams came home in January 1953, it was in a casket. His widow, Audrey, was left with a family to raise, including a son who sought a guitar and legacy of his own.

At age 8, Hank made his music debut – dressed in a black suit, singing his late father’s songs.

Now, more than six decades later, Hank Williams Jr. has his own look, his own music and another tour that’s bringing him through Northeast Mississippi this weekend.

“I am a lucky man,” Williams said in a 2016 interview. “I get to perform when I want, for whom I want and where I want. I have some of the most loyal hardcore fans in the business. I do shows the way I want to do them, whether I am performing several instruments in a fast-paced rocking sound or whether I am doing an acoustic set.”

Williams won’t be taking the stage at the BancorpSouth Arena alone on Saturday, as special guests – Louisiana-based singer-songwriter Frank Foster and Nashville fashion designer and country music artist Nikki Lane – will be joining him for the live performance.

Foster has released seven independent albums since 2011 and has landed on the Billboard Top Country charts multiple times. In addition to acting as his own record label, he also works as his own management, booking agency and publishing company. He’s also garnered more than 18 million hits on Spotify.

Originally an oilfield man, Foster has taken his music from the campfire to the coliseums he’s now playing in.

“I feel that we are an alternative to the pop-country that is going on right now,” Foster told Digital Journal in 2018. “It is a mixture of outlaw country and rock and roll, with a traditional country mix in there. We are doing a pretty good job at it.”

Nikki Lane’s journey to the stage took a different path than that of Foster.

“My father thought he was a country singer,” Lane said. “He partied hard at night but by 6:30 a.m. he was out on the roads in 100-degree weather. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was privileged with the knowledge of how to work hard, how to learn and to succeed when things aren’t set up for me.

“When people told me I should try to get a record deal for songs I was writing, I was like, ‘That’s cute. I’ve got to be at work at 10 a.m.’”

Lane took to the Los Angeles area as a fashion entrepreneur, moving to New York City and eventually Nashville where she now owns the vintage clothing store High Class Hillbilly.

“I was always a smart girl, always had to yell to be heard,” Lane said. “But this was the first time in my career where I decided how things were going to go. I was willing to take the heat.”

Lane and Foster will join the legendary Williams Saturday at the BancorpSouth Arena beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $39.50 to $99.50.

For more information, visit bcsarena.com or call the arena box office at (662) 841-6528.

derek.russell@journalinc.com Twitter: @wderekrussell

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