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August 2004


But back to Texas. Dallas in fact. We left Austin feeling strong, well-loved, and even well-rested. The drive to Dallas was brief for this trip (3 hours or so). We stopped midway at the famous George-0’s in Waco. This tour has turned into a real celebration of regional foods for the Hawks. We ate Queso, big burgers, Shrimp Poor Boys, Peach Cobbler. It was great but we felt a bit out place in this joint. The walls are covered with photos of members of the current administration (in order of actual power): Cheney , Condi Rice, even W. himself. A elderly couple sits next to us. The wife is criticizing the way her husband eats. Her voice sounds as if she smoked filterlesss Lucky Strikes for the last 75 years or so. She growls things like, “Don’t play with it! Just eat it,” and “You don’t know what you’re doing!” The old man ignores her. He seems to have cultivated this skill very well over the years. The whole scene is entertaining but also sad and a bit scary. Marriage is a powerful institution.

After lunch, we make it to Dallas. The accurate directions provided by Mike Snider of the All Good Cafe take us right through Dealy Plaza to the giddy delight of PL. There’s nothing like the Grassy Knoll. When we arrive, Texas singer, songwriter Max Stalling is thrilling the crowd. Mike helps us in with our gear. He’s a real gentleman and one of the finest, nicest, most generous club owners these Hawks have ever had the good fortune to work with. He feeds us, keeps our glasses filled with beer, gives us a great introduction and off we go. Bubba from Brave Combo sent a few cool folks our way, and we have a few true fans in Dallas who seem to know the words to several of our tunes. It’s always a trip to wander into a strange city and have that experience. We play a long set then hang with Mike and the All Good staff in the back. He pulls a bottle of whiskey from his desk drawer, gives us more than the guarantee, and passes some righteously twisted Texas truth. This is what it’s all about. Texas, you’ve been good to us. We’ll miss you.


Kudzu appears to be creeping well over the Louisiana/Texas state line. Onward we drove through the swamps of east Texas, speculating on how long the endless I-10 bridges over alligators and turtles might last before Nature pulls them under. Darkness reminded us of our possibly out of reach downbeat as we cut northwest through La Grange. The outskirts of Austin finally greeted us.

We pulled up at the Hole in the Wall at 10:20pm, just a few minutes late. We piled out of the Yukon dazed and disoriented, were greeted by L.A. expatriates Gil T., Johnny Fargo, Laura I, Laura II and Todd, and Lacques brother Peter and his sweetheart Dr. Dana. We unloaded and set up quickly and gradually sunk our feet into Texas one song at a time. A grand time was had by all, two sets including an epic Humboldt. Stony steel guitarist Gary Newcomb (from Lil Capn Travis, more about them later) strolled by the club, came in and dug some tunes. Very cool club and we’re coming back soon. A late night of migas and other local cuisine at Kerby Lane, and the Hawks headed to the Holiday Inn and Dr. Dana’s graceful creekside Austin abode, to sleep perchance to dream.Next day was a free day. God knows what Rob and Paul M. did at the Holiday Inn, something involving herbally enhanced chocolate sludge. Shawn and Paul L. went down to the river with Dana and Pete at Red Bud park, paddling around in the shore waters. Dana and Pete decided to swim across the river, a 75 yard dash against a strong current. Caught up in the enthusiasm, Paul L. plunged in with them, and 2/3 of the way across realized he’s not exactly an Olympic caliber freestylist, and paused to catch his breath. The current dragged him downstream with impressive speed, to where the river opened up another hundred yards in width. Okay. No swimming back to the shore of departure. Noting Shawn’s helpless and quietly panicked expression on the distant shore, Paul briefly considered the public embarrassment of drowning in a municipal park, then flipped on his back and struggled to the far shore, the welcome sight of overhead branches signaling his reprieve from the meeting with the Maker.

Dana lent Paul her sandals, swimming back across with Pete, and retired swimmer Paul stumbled and cursed through native Austin Cliffside foliage, destination the distant highway bridge. A shortcut through eerie UT student housing lawnage, the shrieks of distant children at play wafting through the air, led semi-naked Paul, doing his best non-pervert imitation, to the highway. A sense of triumph took over, as cheating death usually does, and Paul’s step was downright jaunty as he rejoined his shoreline friends.The band and friends dined that evening at a legendary Austin eatery, which gets a

I, Chihuahua is a nouvelle TexMex joint opened by Doug Sahm and Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators in the mid-1970s. Buddy Holly’s eyeglasses and left femur are on display in a glass case, and a dobro signed by virtually all of Texas music royalty circles the log cabin walls on a model train track. The bar is simulation of the Brazos river, where giant beer schooners are floated downstream to the barstool sitters. A Ralph Nader video loops constantly (on Tuesdays it’s Noam Chomsky, on Wednesdays Jim Hightower) on monitors embedded in Lyndon Johnson toilet seats, and a petting zoo with pigmy bison keeps the kids entertained. In an interesting twist, the beautiful waitresses wear heavy dresses made of Austin limestone slabs. The 7 page menu includes a calf slaughtered and smoked at your tableside, unwashed homefries still caked with red clay, jalapeno meringue pie, and defibrillator stations for the 72 ounce steak eaters. We chose to sit in the universal smoking section, where Our Lady of Guadalupe (pronounced “Guada-loop”) candles cut through the thick haze. No one remembers exactly what happened next, but all agree it was a place worth returning to.

Next morning the Hawks rendezvoused at KUT, where a big league engineer set up a great acoustic sound in the studio, and DJ Jeff did a brisk, pro interview (other than describing the song “I See Hawks In L.A.” as a refreshingly positive song about Los Angeles, check out the lyrics closely, homie).That night proved to be a memorable highlight to the tour. The Hawks did an acoustic set to a music lover audience in the legendary Cactus Café on the UT campus, hallowed ground where Townes Van Zandt and Ralph Stanley posters gaze down like Emperor Constantine. Sound man Jeff (no relation) knows what he’s doing, and we reveled in the sweet acoustic sound. Wise booker Griff has put together another fine combination of bands at the Cactus. Quirky nouveau-waver Jerm Pollet followed with a tightly arranged and damn funny inwardly pointing shoes Elvis Costello homage, with a drummer Stacy looking on from her throne like a bemused aunt at the Jerm antics. Li’l Cap’n Travis then took and commanded the stage with a truly psychedelic country rock set, and the Hawks knew we’d found another musical ally for the slow but relentless assault on the Nashville death star: rich harmonies, sprawling arrangements, spacey and super creative steel and guitar, and low key humor throughout. LCT is a force to be reckoned with. Floating into the Austin balmy late night air (uncharacteristic norther cold front) on a spiritual lake of Shiner Bock, the Hawks returned to their abodes.
Rob’s fucking with my cell phone infrastructure, how’d he get in so fast.


We’ve made a series of fateful decisions in the last 24 hours. These choices could be viewed as difficult but necessary judgments made under trying circumstance or as a series of wrong turns. Either way, we are off course. It began in Birmingham (see BAD VIBES). Then, we made a gut choice between the I-20 East and the I-59 South. I-20 east would’ve taken us through Vicksburg, Mississippi, the only town in America that doesn’t celebrate the 4th of July. (On July 4th, 1865 Union forces surrounding the city opened fire and killed everyone in Vicksburg.) We chose the I-59 South toward New Orleans. Torrential rains began immediately. Then some construction. We drove on. Every time we’ve turned south on this trip things have gone a bit south. The rains let up. The road improved. About an hour outside of New Orleans we stopped at a Days Inn in Picayune, MS. A bit of luck. Clean rooms, a good price, free continental breakfast. Hawks rest.

We’ve only been back in the car this morning for about a half an hour when we somehow miss the I-12 West to Houston. This “error” throws us straight into the heart of New Orleans. Perhaps, precisely what we’ve been wanting all along. Katie (Hawks Ground Control) guides us via cell phone and Internet connection to Euglasich’s, perhaps the best restaurant in New Orleans. Oh no! A cardboard sign wedged between the iron gates of the security door reads “Closed til October.” No luck for the Hawks today. Not yet. We try without success to get back on the I-10 West. It just can’t be done. We are drifting further off course. The clock is ticking. The signs are wrong. They flip us around. Take us back where we came from. Dump us onto dead end streets. We’re deranged. New Orleans is playing voodoo tricks on us. Then, from out of nowhere, Betsy’s Pancake House on Canal. Shawn has eaten there before. Five years ago when on tour with James Intveld. It’s good, he says. And it is. Red Beans and rice. Trout Poor Boys. Eggs and Smoked Sausage. Holy shit, we’re going to make it. The waitress plays little games with us. She won’t give Shawn coffee. She makes us order the Bread Pudding even though we want the peaches. Things like that. It’s great fun. We embrace the tangent we are on, eat leisurely, drink coffee, talk about the problems in our families. It’s great. Back in the car and we are lost again. We can’t find the I-10 West. New Orleans doesn’t want us to leave. The directions to the I-10 West that the waitress gave us are causing the Yukon compass to read NE. This can’t be right, can it? A few more confusing signs and wrong turns and there it is: the sign for Baton Rouge. It seems we’re headed in the right direction once again. We have 517 miles to Austin. Downbeat is in 8 hours, 13 minutes. Will we make it?


Waterbury, Vermont. Taking advantage of one of the perks allocated a touring country rock band, we dine between sets at Waterbury Wings, a local watering hole where we’re set up on the floor in a corner by the bar. It’s incredibly hot and muggy inside the building, more so because they’ve brought in some semi-professional stage lighting, so that, even without an official stage, we’ve been standing under white and yellow lights that would keep your French fries plenty toasty. We’re sweat drenched. The truly curious have come inside to hear us play, but the more prudent are enjoying our music from the safe distance of an outdoor patio, where it’s a little less hot and stuffy. Eventually, it will rain, increasing the humidity.
We enjoy burgers, fish sandwiches (PL), and the “Waterbury Wings”: some really spicy chicken wings. More beer, please. After the show, a guy named Steve introduces himself, and gets to talking about Strawberry Alarm Clock history, his past musical career, I See Hawks on the road, and the general difficulties of touring. He says he’d like to help us out by treating us to a dinner at his restaurant. He says it’s the best restaurant for miles around. We are not about to pass this one up. So we agree to show up for dinner the next night.
Steve’s restaurant turns out to be well known among the locals, and everyone agrees that it is one damn fine restaurant. They compliment us on our good luck, and we end up bringing Mark, Eric, Carter, Chani, and the baby (Elvin) along with us.
It’s called the Mist Grill. It used to be Waterbury’s old Grist Mill. Cute. And beautiful. It’s got old timbers from the old mill. One wall is all native rock, laid without mortar, and the banquettes are carved from wood from the original building’s interior.
Steve is an incredible host. And the restaurant is 5 stars, no doubt. He brings us appetizers of small, delicious vegetarian pizzas made with chanterelle mushrooms picked in the woods behind the restaurant, and the best gazpacho I’ve ever tasted. Our entrees are unbelievably delicious. I had a rib eye with an incredible raspberry glaze. PL’s soy salmon was as good as salmon gets. I sat next to Eric, giving me a chance to steal a bite of his pork chop. Great! And the accompanying potato and vegetable sides were mouth wateringly good. We enjoyed a French Cotes du Rhone white wine, and a California Pinot Noir, and topped it off with some decadent desserts. Turns out that Steve’s Grist Mill has been featured on the Food Network, and that grillmeister, Bobby Flay, has done a feature with Steve. If you’re ever near Waterbury, Vermont, The Mist Grill is a Hawks recommendation. Thanks, Steve. Life is good!
When I was touring the country in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, I was more interested in other things the road had to offer. But now, food seems to occupy my thoughts. In Nashville, we hit a food and family home run, courtesy of Billy and Jill Block.
Driving in from Atlanta, we had a few hours before our gig at Douglas Corners. B & J invited us over for a BBQ. Jill filled up a bowl with fresh fruit. Out of California and dependent on late night restaurants, fresh fruit is a precious rarity. We began to scarf. Chips and homemade guacamole were next.
Billy and Jill have two great sons, Rocky, age 7 and Grady, age 4. While we waited for Billy to get home from work, we played baseball in the backyard with Rocky and Grady. The team of Rocky, Grady, and Shawn ended up outscoring the team of Rob, Paul and Paul, but it was close. Shawn’s home run over the back fence was the difference in the game. Billy might have thought that we were degenerates from reading our other journal entries, but we managed to rehabilitate our image by running around in the backyard with his kids. I See Hawks In L.A.: A wholesome band and not at all dangerous. Wives and children are safe with us!
As the game raged on, Billy BBQ’d up burgers, sausages, chicken, and veggie kabob’s and Jill made a giant salad. Play was suspended while we ate and drank and talked and enjoyed the best weather Nashville had to offer. A beautiful evening. Shawn was really in his element, sitting on the lawn eating with Rocky and Grady, and then getting roped into hide and seek. Finally, Grady taught Shawn a thing or two about drumming, and we drove off in the sunset to our final Nashville gig.
Douglas Corners was good, giving us the feeling that we had vanquished The Dark Force. Mervin, Kacey Jones, Matt Rieser and Richard Ferreira gave us love and hope. But we left nothing to chance, and decided to drive straight to Memphis rather than risk sleeping in Nashville. We could sense the swirling Nashvillian vortex revving up, as the trusty Yukon roared through the darkness toward Memphis, Beale St., Graceland, Stax, Sun Studios, and ultimately, some world famous catfish in Taylor, Mississippi.

Oh, and just to set the record straight, I never touched the piss bottle.PM


We get off the road in Birmingham. The Mapquest directions take us right through what appears to be the main Housing Projects of Birmingham. One of the units, right next to the club, is burned to the ground. There are five people in the club. Two bartenders, a couple guys at the bar, and a baby. Not sure who the baby belongs to. This is weird. There’s no sign of our posters. Nothing in the press. We know of no local radio support. We thought we were opening for Daniel Johnston. It’s Daniel Johnson, local singer-songwriter and he’s opening for us in a town where we know no one. When the sound man finally arrives he tells us we’re on at midnight or later. We have a 13 hour drive ahead of us to Austin where we have friends, press and radio support. We decide to bail. The booking agent is understandably pissed. It gets ugly. There’s no way around it. Birmingham is a fucked-up situation. We try to find the freeway. We can’t. Eventually we find our way to Interstate. Let’s get the fuck out of Alabama.


Land of one thousand Waffle Houses. We stay at the Holiday Inn across the street from Centennial Olympic Park. Our second Holiday Inn with close proximity to a terrorist attack. Atlanta is all new, corporate, and alien. We can’t figure it out. We play at Smith’s Olde Bar. It’s a huge complex. Pool tables downstairs, several bars, a restaurant. Music is upstairs in a room with silver chairs and mirrors that make it seem like it was once a strip club. Pretty cool place but few folks are there. On the good side, the samll audience is wildly enthusiastic. We sell some CDs. Meet Jimbo who treats us to some local greenery. Back to the Holiday Inn where we unsuccessfully try to order pizza, then room service. We finally find a Chinese restaurant that delivers until six. We get Orange Chicken, Egg Foo Young, Egg Rolls. It’s seems to be delicious. That’s pretty much it for Atlanta. They say there’s six million people here. As far as I can tell, they’re all on the freeway. .


“Grapevine” hit Number #1 on the Freeform American Roots chart this week. FAR charts are compiled from reports sent in by actual DJs with freeform (i.e. no playlists) radio shows on public, college and community stations round the country (and world).  Each of them lists the six albums they took most pleasure in playing, one of which can be their Album of the Month.  Many thanks to all the DJs who are playing us.


Three gigs in Nashville. We start off at Billy Block’s Western Beat at the Exit Inn. Cool place. Big room. Good acts. Billy gives us a great introduction to Nashville, explains to the audience what California country music is and that it exists. Billy is a good friend to the Hawks (see FOOD IN USA). The room sounds good, there’s a nice crowd. Folks dig it. Nashville is surprisingly welcoming to this skeptical band. Everyone is very nice, the band gets lots of praise, people hand us their business cards and shake our hands. Maybe we were wrong about this place all along?

No. We were not wrong. As the week goes along the darkness starts to creep in. Nashville has shattered and terrified so many of the songwriters who have come here. It’s as if this town is the saddest casino on earth and the song writers just sit there at the Toby Keith/Tim McGraw/Faith Hill slot machine, putting years of their lives in the coin slot, waiting for some big artist to record one of their songs. The darkness rubs off on us and is hard to shake. Still, we manage to convert some of the natives. As we stand out in front of The Sutler, a car drives by cranking music. It’s only after several seconds that I recognize it as “Nicotine and Vitamin C.” They wave. Whoa. The gig at Douglas Corner’s with Richard Ferreira is a mixed bag. The room is great, Richard is great, but the crowd has gone somewhere else tonight. Perhaps to see the Hacienda Brothers, or Jim Lauderdale. There’s lots of competition in this town.


The Hawks rolled out of a secure, undisclosed location in Vermont sluggish and triumphant after the most potent blue moon bachanalia in their recent memory (a lot has happened in their minds, especially PL’s, since Saturday night).
Having hurtled north from NYC Friday morning, and following a solid set at the Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland that afternooon, the Hawks hightailed it even further north to their preferred swimming hole: A brook running from the slopes of Hunger Mountain pools clear and cool below an old mill dam. Friday night the band was fast and loose (the tight kind) at the tiki-torch-laden Waterbury Wings. Vermont organic beer flowed while old and new friends kept the spirits round and full. Paul Lacques hovered roughly seven centimeters (goin’ metric so close to Canada) off the ground during his always memorable Humboldt-closer guitar blast-off. Local restaunteur Steve of the Mist Grill Cafe loved the band from L.A. and with coast-to-coast hospitality and joie de vivre generously regaled the band with top-shelf dining the following evening.

Saturday morning, under cloudy skies, children danced in the grassy courtyard beside the Farmer’s Market in Montpelier while the Hawks played serene renditions of Hope Against Hope, Beautiful Narcotic and a dozen others. It was a heroic morning effort following Friday’s two-show-plus travel day. The perfect temperature, Vermont summer breeze, promise of a fine evening meal, and about forty-three deciliters of locally roasted coffee made it all come together.Saturday evening, the evening in question. Well, the Hawks have requested that you fill in the blanks with your imagination. But safe to say that the band went temporarily off the grid in good hands and in fine company. Memorable deserts were eaten, and memorable late-night jams with old friends ensued.

Having touched the people and the elements in their furthest-from-home tour destination, one of the finest and kindest bands in the land has begun their homeward journey — with many great shows still to come. Be safe, be well, and be youtiful.Leaving Vermont


After our first good night’s sleep of the journey we got up and ate at the Cracker Barrel. We’re Crackers afterall. Or maybe that was the day before. It’s all blending together now.

We played with a fine band in Charlotte called the 2$ Pistols at The Evening Muse, a cool brick walled bar with a bartender who wore a bikini top under her overalls. Classic southern look. It was a full house and the crowd was enthusiastic. We sold a pile of CDs and pulled well at the door. Best dough yet and it was much needed to defray the costs of getting all the way across the damn country. Next day was Raleigh. We played at the Pour House. Friendliest crowd yet. Marianne at the Pour House put together a nice afternoon show. Great sound man and system. Two great sets of music. The band is gelling into a loose, tight country rock machine. And that’s not an oxymoron.

It was also our good friend Mona’s welcome to town party. Mona recently moved from LA back to Raleigh. She is a Cole’s regular and a fine, long time friend of the Hawks. It was fantastic to have her at our first shows on the the road. One special treat: her seven year old nephew, Tristan Mackie, got up and sang “Papa Stopped The Wagon.” No kidding. Every word. It was amazing. Look for video of this event up on the website soon. Afterwards, Mona cooked us a fine meal of vegetarian lasagna and garlic bread at her new home. She also served cantaloupe, grapes, cucumbers, green peppers, carrots. We needed the fruits and vegetables badly after so many meals at the Waffle House. North Carloina was good to us. Hope the rest of the tour goes half as well.