Actually born September 17, 1923, Williams shares a birthday with country tunesmith John Nathan, the evening's featured performer. Backed by the Rotten Gamblers, Nathan plans to wrap his own seasoned tenor -- one smooth as Kentucky branch water -- around such classics as "Hey, Good Lookin'," "Jambalaya" and "Your Cheatin' Heart."
"We'll do every Hank Williams song we can think of," says Nathan, a native of Santa Rosa who spent most of the '80s in L.A. (even rooming with provocateur Perry Farrell for a year) before landing a carpentry gig in Denver. After honing his chops on open stages, Nathan secured a weekend slot at the Carioca three years ago -- along with a spot on the jukebox: Party of One, engineered by Cricket on the Hill luminary Baggs Patrick, features "Instant Heartache," a tune that earned Nathan song-of-the-year honors from the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002. "It's abysmal in a humorous way," Nathan says of his own songwriting style. "That ol' black humor: Willie Nelson layin' down in Nashville to get run over, you know. So I'm trying to inject a little levity into the situation."
While faithfully covering Hank's weepers, Nathan still has one good reason to smile: The Carioca's landlord has reopened negotiations with club owner Tim Fink about extending the historic watering hole's lease beyond December 1.
Says a gruff, bearded barkeep who goes only by the name of Ron: "We served Pabst in the can before it was even popular. People who come in here really appreciate socializing, no matter if they just hopped off a train, or if they're coming off a graveyard shift, or if they got their cart locked up outside."