Hank Wangford

Hank Wangford by Alison Lang

Bridport Arts Centre
Friday 4 September 8pm
Tickets: £16.50/£12

Preview by Lawrence Hansen

Hank Wangford gets the Bridport Hat Festival off to a rollicking start with a gig at the Arts Centre. He appears with four all-star hard-core country musicians, including B.J. Cole, a leading UK exponent of the pedal steel guitar.

Hank is passionate about country music and enjoys playing to non-believers. His many jokes – e.g. sidekicks Bad Breath and Manley Footwear – should not obscure his devotion to this quintessentially American folk tradition. Even the New York Times commented that his music ‘still has the bite and twang that has been drained out of so much Country music’. At the age of 74, Hank still records and tours vigorously. Under the no-hall-too-small programme of the National Rural Touring Forum he has appeared in some 300 out-of-the-way venues.

He is also the founder of the Nude Mountaineering Society and continues to serve as its president. His inspiration was George Mallory who climbed without trousers in the Himalayas. Membership couldn’t be easier: find a peak somewhere, remove your clothes, take a selfie and send it to him.

Hank is the guitar-playing alter ego of Dr Sam Hutt, a sexual healthcare specialist who has helped to develop clinical practice in poor countries such as Bosnia and Transylvania. He’s a genuine English eccentric in the tradition of, for example, Sir George Sitwell (who painted his cows in blue willow patterns as part of a landscaping scheme) and Lord Berners (who had Penelope Betjeman’s horse in his sitting room for tea).

However, it’s Hank who’s coming to Bridport on Friday with his uniquely amusing Country and Western act.