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The Appalachia Issue

Family Tradition

Martin County, Kentucky is dry. That means unless you can make moonshine, you ain't getting drunk. If you want to crank it up, you need to head over the bridge into Fort Gay (yeah, yeah), West Virginia. That's where the Wildcat bar is.
1.11.06

artin County, Kentucky is dry. That means unless you can make moonshine, you ain’t getting drunk. If you want to crank it up, you need to head over the bridge into Fort Gay (yeah, yeah), West Virginia. That’s where the Wildcat bar is. We were there on a Saturday night and it was a fucking rager. They played the Hank Jr. song “Family Tradition” so many times that we finally realized it is the national anthem down there. The DJ spun it again and again. A few different guys even did it in karaoke. That’s all. We’re not trying to make any cultural commentary here. It’s just a fucking good song is all. Family Tradition
by Hank Williams, Jr. Country music singers have been a real close family, but lately some of my kinfolks have disowned a few others and me.
I guess its because I kind of changed my direction. Lord I guess I went and broke their family tradition.
They get on me and want to know Hank why do you drink? Why do you roll smoke? Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Over and over everybody makes my predictions. So if I get stoned, I’m just carrying on an old family tradition.
I am very proud of my daddy’s name all though his kind of music and mine ain’t exactly the same.
Stop and think it over. Put yourself in my position. If I get stoned and sing all night long it’s a family tradition.
So don’t ask me, Hank why do you drink? Hank, why do you roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
If I’m down in a honky-tonk some ole slick’s trying to give me friction. I said leave me alone, I’m singing all night long, it’s a family tradition.
Lord, I have loved some ladies and I have loved Jim Beam and they both tried to kill me in 1973.
When that doctor asked me, Son how did you get in this condition? I said, hey sawbones, I’m just carrying on an ole family tradition.
So don’t ask me, Hank, why do you drink? Hank, why do roll smoke? Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Stop and think it over, try and put yourself in my unique position. If I get stoned and sing all night long, it’s a family tradition!

Photo by Jerry Hsu

Photo by Jerry Hsu

Everyone—no matter what their condition—dances at the Wildcat.

Photo by Patrick O’Dell

Worshipping money in one of America’s poorest areas. Real nice.

Photo by Patrick O’Dell

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

Photo by Jerry Hsu

They had the same airbrush guy do work all over the bar.

That guy is the busboy at the bar, but he takes breaks to dance with local babes.

Photos by Jerry Hsu

This cost $10.

This cost $20.

Photo by Jerry Hsu

The busboy also took a break to sing some karaoke.

Photos by Jerry Hsu

Lo and behold, the back room of the Wildcat houses a makeshift tattoo parlor.