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August 2004


Hempfest and the Seattle sky presented the Hawks with a cosmic gift:  as we finished our last song, “Wonder Valley,” the skies opened up and the rain did fall.  Pleased not to be electrocuted, we jammed out to a stadium rock conclusion, feeling like stadium rockers, and then the sky really dumped, and we scurried offstage, the crew covered the gear with sheets, and that was it for live music for the day.  We wandered around the very stony fest, and at 4:20 the crowd gathered for a smokeout:  thousands of furry freaks huffing at bongs with all their might, and a THC cloud hovered above the Seattle waterfront lawn. 
Victoria had a nice chat with Eddy of Eddy’s Medicinal Gardens, world’s largest (and busted) medicinal herb garden.  The Hawks wandered the lanes and byways of Hempfest.  Rob donned a plaid blanket that transformed him into a Redneck Superhero, and he and Shawn handed out the new Hawks sticker to Festgoers.   Paul Marshall stopped by the Kerry Edwards booth and bluntly asked them if Kerry was going to decriminalize drug use, and the Dems hemmed and hawwed as only a modern Dem can do.  Go, Ralph! 
It was time to leave.  We packed up our damp equipment and caravanned to the Continental Hotel, overlooking one of Seattle’s many waterways, and had a fun hotel campout with brother Hawk Dave Zirbel.  In numerous skits performed in the party room, Shawn revealed himself as a brilliant comedian/improviser, available for TV/film through this website.  Thanks to Matt Lacques for an excellent bottle of 100% Agave tequila anejo, you rule, hermano.
When Paul and Victoria took off the next morning, their fellow Hawks had flown the coop, somewhere far down the 5.  Sad.  P & V hung out with the distinguished Jack Slater and wife Deborah, saw the bohemian sights of Seattle, and headed south.  Wandering roads took them through infinite blackberry patches, rain with the sun shining, rivers and riverside farms, and a smoldering forest fire’s black soil and hillsides, smoldering still under a torrential rain.
Ashland is civilized.  Highway 99 gives you roadside fruit stands and crazy junk stores, 5 gives you speed. The choice is clear. 
Paul M. and Shawn powered to Marin, dropped off man of Steel Dave Z., powered next day all the way home, meeting Sherrie at the 152. RW dissappeared at dawn, onto a jet airplane, and back to his secret life somewhere deep in the geographic center of Los Angeles.
Sacramento has accordionist extraordinaire Richie Lawrence, wife Katie, and magical family, and damn good coffee.  Modesto has scary tofu teryaki and a slacker espresso bar where the kids hang around and buy nothing.   The south end of the San Joaquin Valley on 99 is a bit sinister, strange industrial smells and mysterious big machinery among the fields, the loneliest sunset you’ll ever see.   Past Panama Lane south of Bakersfield, Paul L’s O’hare family homestead since 1870, now crowded by creeping subdivisionism, and it’s into the home stretch.
A last trip over the Grapevine, psychotic driving resumes at the L.A. County line, right on schedule, and the Hawks are back.  See you at Coles.

ROCK AND HAWK by Robinson Jeffers

Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.
This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,
Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.
I think, here is your emblem,
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,
But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final
Life with calm death; the falcon’s
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive
Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.

*Thanks to Randall for adding to the Hawks’ Jeffers collection.


We’re listening to Toots and the Maytals as we head north on I-5 toward our final gig of the tour, The Seattle Hempfest. Damn, Toots can sing.

Last night we played at Mississippi Studios in Portland. It was a blast. This is a great room. It’s set up like an old church — pews as the seating and a tall stage like the pulpit from the film version of “Moby Dick” with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab and Orson Wells as the seafaring minister. We got some good press and it fillecd the place up. Funny how some press can do that and some can’t. Folks were standing in the ailses and the band just sounded great. The harmonies were right on, the band was all right, and the spirit was flowing into each of us. And it wouldn’t have been quite complete if there were not a great meal attached to it. But there was! HAWKS NON CORPORATE FOOD RECOMMENDATION. Bold Sky Café on Mississippi. Fancy, fine dining at a reasonable price. We had Wild Salmon , Heirloom Tomatoes, Wild Mushroom Risotto, A Skillet Dip (new to us) of Chicken Apple Sausage, Carmelized Onions, Figs, and Blue Cheese. All for about $10 a piece. Check it out next time you are in the city of one thousand bridges.


We barely made it on time but the kind folks who made it out to Café Paradiso in Eugene were very mellow and didn’t seem to mind. One couple drove two hours from the coast just from seeing a review. Thanks, folks. The band sounded great that night. Zirbel really finding some sweet spots with the steel as the full band found its sound. It was a brief but good stop on the way up to the fest.


We’ve escaped San Francisco. Just barely, but we’re out. The heavy fog disoriented the band. It was 105 F at the Fresno County Line. In forty short miles, over the Bay Bridge, and the temperature drops to 55 F. A fifty degree drop. How can anyone expect a country rock band to deal with this kind of temperature fluctuation? San Francisco is a strange city for me to play now. It’s full of ghosts. Some good, some bad. But it’s just damn cold there. Especially in the summer. The gig at The Parkside was all right but, Jesus, it was so cold. Anyway, it’s all miles behind us now.

We just stopped in Williams, California for lunch. Thank God, we found a gem. Roberta’s Taqueria. HAWKS NON CORPORATE FOOD RECOMMENDATION. It’s the real deal. Excellent, homemade Mexican food. If you’re traveling north on the I-5 take the 2nd Williams exit. Go left. Roberta’s is the yellow stand at the corner of 5th and E Streets. Dave Zirbel and I each had the Chicken Super Burrito. I really like my chicken burritos to have a lot of sour cream. And it did. Damn, it was delicious. PM had a Carnitas Torta. He sat there with his glasses off, savoring it, his eyes showing his love for the Mexican sandwhich. SN had the Carne Asada Super Burrito. He nearly ate it in one bite. Everything was delicious. Man, we really needed a good lunch. We were all pretty starving. We got up and drove too long before eating. Sometimes on the road a midday meal can either make or break your day. We scored today.

HURT HAWKS by Robinson Jeffers

The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,
No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.
He stands under the oak-bush and waits
The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.
He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,
The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant.
You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.

III’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved.
We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance.
I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

* Thanks to our friend Kathy who sent in this great poem.


“The current is becoming wilder, more capricious. It’s all absurd, and I’ll never understand why I set out on this enterprise. It’s always the same at the start of a journey. Then comes the soothing indifference that makes everything all right. I can’t wait for it to arrive.”
— Alvaro Mutis, from The Snow of the Admiral

PM, Shawn, and I are back in the Yukon heading north. PL and Victoria are up ahead somewhere in their own vehicle. We’re picking up our badass steel player, Dave Zirbel, in SF tonight. Stage two is underway. Right now we’re listening to The Herbivores, the Hempfest organizer’s band. It’s jammin’ reggae/ska with a John Scofield-like rhythm section. The Herbivores go on at 4:20 pm. They’re right after Leon Hendrix (Jimmy’s brother) who’s right after us. We’re getting psyched up for the fest. It’s really the focus of this leg of the journey. What the reality of the scene will be none of us can know.

I-5 is so familiar it doesn’t feel like we’re leaving anywhere yet. We tried to gas up in Grapevine but they were gouging at $2.59 a gallon. Not cool. So we got ten bucks worth and drove down the road. I passed an ARCO offering $1.98 so we hit the breaks on the Yukon and took her into the median for an illegal U-turn. Lucklily, no cops. Got the cheap gas. Fucking gas.


It’s late afternoon and the sun is soft under a kind and image laden cloud cover that’s protected us all the way from Gallup, we roll west on I-40. We pulled off at a hail laden pine woods, and Rob created an egg bomb and an apple bomb with some M-90’s we’d bought in Tennessee. He drew hapless victim faces on the egg and the apple with a blue Sharpie, and executed them on a hail covered rock outcropping. The apple exploded in cinematic fashion, leaving its plaintive face split in two looking up from the snow. The egg was more stubborn, surviving an initial explosion. Paul suggested clemency, but a second M-90 blew Mr. Egg into oblivion.

Now we’re 35 miles from California. The desert scrub and craggy purple mountains are surprisingly familiar and homey, homie. Can’t believe we’re almost back. Welcome back to California, as the old ghosts say. Three niights with the wives and cats and dogs and kids. Then it’s up the coast for the final, hemp-charged leg of our tour.


The alarm cruelly sounded at 7 a.m. at the Quality Inn in a funky zone of Dallas, and the band lurched to the breakfast Continental in the lobby and speed-loaded Raisin Bran, pastries, and coffee into their systems, speed loaded the Yukon and drove north towards Denton and a rendezvous with the 281 to Amarillo. The 800 mile drive took the predicted 13 hours, but the Texas/New Mexico dry country was a gentle green from a rainy summer, and beautiful rolling hill scrub pastures and red earth muddy rivers guided us westward. It was a good vibe drive. A final Waffle House visit east of Tucumcari: Paul Marshall orders the bacon and one egg, hash browns smothered, coffee (several refills), and raisin toast; Rob has the pork chop sandwich with hash browns smothered, peppered, and covered, and a diet coke; Paul Lacques has his customary cheese omlette and hash browns smothered and covered, and of course raisin toast and coffee; Shawn takes the ham and cheese omelette with grits and raisin toast, just water, please. It was good.

We reached Gallup, 6500 feet in altitude, near sunset, and the red earth glowed under silver clouds, crossed over a railroad line and the Puerco River and pulled into the parking lot of El Rancho Hotel, a 1938 extravaganza, home to movie stars filming westerns in Monument Valley, with the neon entrance motto: “The romance of yesterday, the convenience of tomorrow.” Rob’s old friend Buck set up the show in the El Rancho and introduced our record to KGAC, All Navajo All The Time radio. They’re playing it, and we’re psyched. Buck greeted us at the El Rancho, and he and his lovely wife Liz helped us set up the P.A., and we got our cool rooms (the Burt Lancaster and the Dennis Morgan) in the momento and turquoise and Indian Art bedecked hotel. The show was mild anarchy and just great. The audience is a mixture of Navajo locals, hippies, Caucasians of category defying origin, and the obnoxious British correspondent from CNN, who looks and talks exactly like he does on TV. The band got an extra charge from a customary round of 101 Wild Turkey due to the high altitude, and dug into the songs with extra abandon. The beer flowed like wine from our listening friends, with much rough edged banter, and the Hawks soared ever higher. Just before the end of the first set we play “Dog.” Spontaneously, several members of the crowd begin to howl and bark. We’re pretty sure they’ve never heard this song before which can only mean they are listening and responding. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in New York City. The crowd was great. Gallup has soul. We mixed Waylon and Merle into the set list, and the crowd was well pleased.

Deep into the second set, we realized that we might be in for a long (or much shorter) evening, when the bartendress, of noble bearing, was abruptly hauled off in handcuffs past the stage, on to jail. She apparently was entrapped by undercover cops who got her to sell a drink to an “underage” narc. Paul Marshall did a very kind and effective announcement to the crowd, who promptly evacuated the room as if it were burning down. No booze, no show in Gallup. We hung and chatted with folks who stuck around, including a cool Navajo guy who told us about Canyon de Chelly. I hope we can play a reservation on our return. Late night dining at Christy’s diner, and our last night of this leg comes to an end.
I must say, I being Shawn, the sandwich I ordered was top notch, perhaps the best diner sandwhich I’ve ever had in my life. It’s called the Aztec sandwich and it rules. Basically it’s a grilled cheese with bacon and Ortega chiles. But it was something else too. While I’m doing this entry Rob say’s, “Hey, are you assholes ready to find out how much money you lost on this tour?” Well I don’t know if I’m really ready…but here we go.

And then, after all is said, done, and paid for (gas, lodging, booze, etc. etc.) we discover we’ve avoided the very real possibility of totally losing our ass and have actually come out ahead.