Charleston musician John Lilly said he never dreamed a tribute to the late Hank Williams, dreamed up between two musicians in a Princeton coffee house, would become a yearly tradition.
The year was 2002 and Lilly had met Rob McNurlin at Sisters Coffee House, where both performed.
One night they ended up on stage together and in discussing what songs they knew in common, they discovered they both were Hank Williams fans.
It being the 50th anniversary of Williams' death - a death with somewhat mysterious circumstances in which Williams died in the back of a Cadillac while he was traveling through West Virginia - they decided to do a little tribute show.
Lilly said he and McNurlin had fun spinning grand plans for the show - they could do the show in Princeton and then rent a 1952 Cadillac and travel by motorcade to Oak Hill, where Williams was discovered dead.
"Well, that didn't happen," Lilly said, and instead the two did their show for a modest crowd of maybe 25 folks.
However, a man in Alabama who got wind of their plans booked a bus tour to West Virginia for the next day, bringing rabid Williams fans and even some members of the Drifting Cowboys Band, who'd played with Williams.
"It was so much fun, we did it again down in Princeton the next year," Lilly said.
Saturday night in Charleston marks the 10th time Lilly and his guest musicians will gather to remember the legendary singer. The show has taken place in different venues and different cities over the years, and has even been attached to different musical organizations, such as the Woody Hawley Series.
"We did it at Taylor Books in Charleston one year - it was the biggest crowd in history at Taylor Books," Lilly said. "We had 200 people there. They were peeking around the stacks of books."
This year, FOOTMAD is hosting the event at the Culture Center and Lilly will be joined by McNurlin, Kayton Roberts, Buddy Griffin, Roger Carroll and Ritchie Collins.
While the band has been as large as 11 members, Lilly said he prefers the current lineup, which provides the cleaner, more stripped-down sound for which Williams was known.
The event hasn't lost its original fun, mostly because these guys do it just once a year.
"The sound check has been as much rehearsal as anything," Lilly said.