Hank's Cadillac band members are, from left, Michael Salsburg, Mike Kennedy, Scott Rodgers, Kim Alexander, Mike Hood and Glenn Cowen. (Photo by Lauren White)

Hank’s Cadillac band members are, from left, Michael Salsburg, Mike Kennedy, Scott Rodgers, Kim Alexander, Mike Hood and Glenn Cowen. (Photo by Lauren White)

by Carole Verona

Named after the car in which country music megastar Hank Williams died of heart failure in 1953, Hank’s Cadillac will swing into Chestnut Hill on Wednesday, July 29, 7:30 p.m., to close out the free concert series at Pastorius Park.

The band plays an eclectic mix of country music and classic rock, with a jazz standard or two thrown in. “It’s a little difficult to describe us. We are full of surprises and that’s what makes us fun to see, especially for the very first time,” said Kim Alexander, lead vocalist and songwriter.

“Ten years ago, I had this idea that I wanted to sing in a country band. I fell in love with traditional country music, and I felt that it was my calling, my heart and my voice. I thought, ‘Life is short; let’s just do this,’” said Kim, a Chestnut Hill resident and former DJ with WXPN who had never sung professionally. She reached out to people she knew and found others on Craigslist. Scott Rodgers, her band mate and musical partner, has been with her from the beginning. “Once he became involved, things started to gel,” she said. Since then, the band has been playing regularly in clubs and at festivals in and around Philadelphia and South Jersey.

Hank’s Cadillac’s set list varies from show to show. According to Kim, “We have to keep the audience and ourselves on our toes. We perform a lot of up-tempo songs because we don’t want the audience to get bored. We’re not a cover band in that we don’t try to make something sound exactly like it is on a record. We look at a song and ask, ‘What can we bring to this?’”

The band members, whose ages range from the 30s to the 50s, get together at least once a month to rehearse, usually at Kim’s house, where there’s a big enough living room and plenty of food on hand. Kim is especially proud of the band because “several of them have pedigrees.”

Scott Rodgers, lead guitar and vocals, plays bass with the Philly punk band Mondo Topless and, along with Kim, performs for Musicians on Call, an organization that brings musicians to the bedsides of patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

Michael Salsburg, fiddle, played on the song “Traveling Prayer” on Billy Joel’s album “Piano Man.” He has a Ph.D. in Mathematics (Probability and Statistics) from Drexel University.

Mike Hood, upright bass and songwriter, is Director of Instrumental Music at Wissahickon High School in Ambler. He has a Masters Degree in trombone from The University of the Arts in center city and is the leader of the Hoppin’ John Orchestra.

Glenn Cowen, drums, has a degree in percussion from the University of Pennsylvania and is the Director of Bands at Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove. Mike Kennedy, rhythm guitar and pedal steel guitar, has a Masters Degree in Guitar from the University of the Arts and has shared a stage with Elton John, The Band, Lou Rawls and others.

Kim attributes the longevity of Hank’s Cadillac to the fact that the band members know each other really well, basically like each other and enjoy making music together. She said that she’s very aggressive in contacting people for bookings and is especially grateful to Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia, a long-time supporter who books the band regularly.

The band’s first CD, produced by Peter Richan at Buckeye Studio in Philadelphia, will be out later this year. “It’s only been within the last year that we’ve started writing our own original songs, and some of them be on the CD,” Kim said.

Look for Hank’s Cadillac at the First Annual Philly Country Music Festival on August 22 at Bob and Barbara’s Lounge in Center City.

More information about the band at reverbnation.com/hankscadillac or at facebook.com/HanksCadillac. More information about the concert series at chestnuthill.org. If it rains, the show will take place at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8000 Cherokee St.