Hank Williams 'Garden Spot' recordings to be released

Posted on March 31, 2014

Two dozen long-lost Hank Williams performances will “see the light” next month, when Omnivore Recordings releases The Garden Spot Programs, 1950, a collection of cuts from an obscure Iowa-based radio show that first aired more than 64 years ago.

The album will be released digitally, as well as on CD and vinyl, on May 20. Among the 24 tracks are versions of “A Mansion on the Hill,” “I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye,” and “I Don’t Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes).”

The Williams recordings were originally heard in February 1950,over the course of four episodes of The Garden Spot, a show that aired on KSIB-AM in Creston, Iowa and was sponsored by national nursery chain Naughton Farms.

Williams’ appearance on the show, however, came from pre-recorded material sent from Nashville, according to Williams’ biographer Colin Escott.

“Country radio was beginning its slow transition from live music to DJ shows,” Escott writes in the CD liner notes. “Live music and DJ shows were augmented by transcribed shows. After buying 15 minutes of airtime on small-market stations, sponsors would prerecord shows with well known artists, duplicate them, and ship them out on 12 or 16-inch transcribed discs.”

The same Williams recordings were likely sent to dozens of small-market radio stations, adds Escott, but only KSIB’s copies are known to have survived.

The recordings were transferred, restored and mastered from original transcription discs by engineer Michael Graves. The CD package will include rare photos from Escott’s personal collection; the LP will offer a limited-edition first pressing on translucent red vinyl, with black vinyl to follow.

Williams’ daughter Jett says she’s “especially pleased” the Garden Spot release will include vinyl.

“It’s incredible to me that we’re still finding new recordings by my dad--great ones at that,” says Jett Williams. “No one even suspected that these recordings existed.”

For more information, visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Check out the above video, put together in 1998, featuring Williams performing “Cold, Cold Heart.”

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