The Real Life Heavies do a cover of “16 Tons”!

Check out the Heavies’ tribute to Tennessee Ernie Ford & songwriter Merle Travis in their cover of “Sixteen Tons”!

In late 2015, the Heavies entered a contest to create a fresh new take on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s classic hit “Sixteen Tons” (written by Merle Travis) for the Birthplace of Country Music organization in Bristol, TN. After judging many entries, the Real Life Heavies received a 3rd place spot in the great event! Below are the judges comments:

From the contest narrative | Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The concert will also include performances by the winners of the museum’s “Sixteen Tons” cover contest held in December 2015. “We had so many delightful entries, and our panel of judges had a difficult time deciding the winners,” said David Lewis, the museum’s Curator of Collections and Digital Media. “We’re excited about the wide variety of entries we received and the ways the musicians made Ford’s most famous song their own.”

“Jeff – Congratulations! The judging panel has weighed in and your group won third place in the “Sixteen Tons” cover contest! Congrats – we all really appreciated the new feel you gave the song, and it worked really well. I’ve included some sample judges comments at the bottom of this email. We’re also planning to incorporate your YouTube cover version into some of our social media advertising for the concert and our current special exhibit, Tennessee Ernie Ford: A Life on Stage.”

“I love the look and feel of this group, and the interesting take they bring to the tune. In the hands of less-practiced musicians, this arrangement could have fallen flat, but these guys pull it off well.”

David Lewis | Curator of Collections & Digital Media

“Very fine overall.  Good energy. Excellent vocals and creative effect. Well performed and in a style that the audience would like.”

Craig Combs | Artistic Director of The Paramount Chamber Players

“This ‘70s rock-country crossover arrangement is very effective and communicates the lyrics’ emotions very well. The final vocal phrases are especially moving.”

Evelyn Pursley-Kopitzke | Composer

“I love that they had Ernie on the TV in the background. Entertaining performance.”

Merlene Travis | Music publisher at Merle’s Girls Music and daughter of Merle Travis

“I liked the way he made the song kind of jazzy. He had a good voice and the rendition was somewhat different from the others.”

Leah Ross | Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music

“Very cool.”

J. Buck Ford | Actor and son of Tennessee Ernie Ford