September 2006


September 30, 2006

September 30 ’06

The Hawks are back on the road. Specifically, the I-65 north, rising and falling through rolling midwestern hills and browning corn fields. This is the heart of Indiana, the trampled and discarded soul of America. Do these good people really support torture, the end of habeas corpus, wiretaps and secret prisons? I just can’t believe it but perhaps we have all been that effectively terrified. Terrified not by Osama and the Beheaders (Sony/BMG), but by our own cowardly leaders. Men and women who lack the moral courage to face down the hijackers and the suicide bombers with the rule of law and old fashioned human rights. Yes. The heartland. That’s where we are. But we are far from these grim thoughts most of the time. We talk of drummers and drumming as we always do when packed into a van. Our gig last night in Louisville was dreamy and surreal. The Phoenix Hill Tavern is a converted River Boat factory in an old part of town where brick buildings line narrow streets all leading to the river. The club is enormous. Three floors of brass and ferns, tchotshkis and retro-flair. We’re up against The Rolling Stones tonight who are out at Churchill downs. Tough competition.

Our superstar hosts Bill and Rebecca have booked the show, picked us up at the airport, regaled us with details of local Louisville lore, and fed us in a band guest house that’s been hermetically sealed since the 70’s. Floor to ceiling deep ply carpeting, mirrored tables with vintage cocaine residue–essence of the decade dedicated to pleasure and androgyny. Rob’s hometown buddy Mike and his great girlfriend Sonia join us in the hospitality lounge to eat sandwiches and drink grapefruit juice. The couple has driven down from Bloomington for the show. They’re both graduate students at the university. Mike studies philosophy, Sonia, Public Health and Human Sexuality. She shows the band an easy way to find the g-spot. If only we’d have known this crucial information in High School. We’re greeted in the Phoenix Hill fern/concert room by Denny Anderson, who hands us a welcome to Kentucky gift that can’t be beat: a bottle of Woodford bourbon and a bottle of Knob Creek. We immediately break open the Woodford, which is a distilled spirit to rival in sophistication any of Scotland’s finest. Hail, Denny, and wife Barbara.

Louisville is one of those towns the Hawks feel an immediate kinship with. There’s not a hint of pretension among the many fine folks we meet tonight. The landscape is mellow and mysterious, large stone and brick 19th century middle class palaces tucked into river bluffs under great old trees, lonely warehouse blocks where the midnight trains roll through.The show is good, we rock a modest sized but very enthusiastic house, co-billed with the Trustees of Modern Chemistry, who are like ourselves big Big Lebowski fans and do politically informed rock with twang and djembe. We’ll be back for sure, Louisville. The plan is to play a Derby Party to finance the trip, then do Louisville and adjacent shows. This Louisville/Chicago/Minneapolis tourette is a test run of a touring model: secure a good paying show, fly in and do regional shows. So far so good.

Our gently decaying Soviet apartment block-style Days Inn is packed with Rolling Stones fans who have flown in from all over the country for a rare appearance of the Devil’s apprentices at Churchill Downs. Matrons with the giant red tongue covering their matronly front wander the balconies looking for ice, and weathered bleach blondes of all genders pose rocklike in the lobby. It’s a scene.Rob is eating an O’brien Cheddar and Beef stick. There’s a leprechaun on the package. “Taste the Magic!”, he cheerfully calls out. Somehow the two have been married in a homogenous brown cigarillo sized sausage. Rob gives it one thumb up in the Hawks Do In A Pinch Road Food Evaluation. We’re on a tight (i.e. running late) run up to Chicago, under mellow Hoosier skies.

Patrick, son-in-law of Paddi and Jeff, who do great house concerts in Mount Washington, is a former all star college linebacker and baseball catcher now in the commodity trading pit in Chicago. His sister Kerry is also a big league talent, won a cheerleading (i.e. gymnast) scholarship to Louisville, and won the national championship. Patrick and fellow commodities trader and Vermonter Mark are driving us to Chicago in a mini-van that we’ve packed with our gear and our selves. Fear The Reaper by BOC is playing for the second time this morning. In this version they’ve edited out the long faux flamenco guitar interlude, much to Paul L’s dismay.

Classic rock has been our soundtrack since landing in Louisville. At Phoenix Hill Tavern high quality 70’s rock blasted the house before we played. Heart’s “Crazy On You” was a revelation on the big speakers. Ann Wilson is an amazing singer, and the band rocks as big as the biggest. Heart, we never knew ye.

NPR (No Problems Radio) just did a story on big pot growers on national forest land. The message is clear: grow your own. Mega growers use pesticides and artificial fertilizers, leave massive garbage pits, and contribute to stream runoff in the mountains. Your backyard shrub is your best guarantee of quality and purity.


September 21, 2006

Ya know–you can’t really influence global political-economic relations and events from your computer blog, or onstage in an alt alt country rock folk band. But we try. And if the last few diary entries appear a bit grim and earnest, we’ll try to cheer up. All this madness will pass, and as our good friend Brian Mello’s art predicts, bears will roam downtown L.A. once again. Humans won’t have to travel the globe to see wildlife. They’ll be an element of wildlife once again.
So here’s to philosopher Willie Nelson, whose zen-like ways just enabled him to get out of a one and a half pound pot bust in Louisiana with just a misdemeanor.
In his words we can find a bit of comfort and comraderie:
“Cowboys like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night
And them that don’t know him won’t like him
And them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him
He ain’t wrong he’s just different
but his pride won’t let him do things to make you think he’s right”


2006 was the year of Gram Parsons, for many strange reasons, and I See Hawks, a Byrds/Burritos blend of brainy talent, benefited from all the posthumous attention paid to Parsons. It’s also one of the best post-Byrds roots records since Gene Clark’s No Other.



Connoisseurs of surreal country in the grand Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers/Byrds tradition will find much to love on California Country, a collection of shrewd, witty songs custom-fitted — big beats and all — for the beards’n’boots crowd. Here’s a disc that suggests its creators have their ears in the ’70s and their minds in a modern protest rally: “Byrd from West Virginia” praises the titular senator for his outspokenness on the Iraq War, and “Barrier Reef,” with its hilarious refrain that “The keeper of the leaf/Is the barrier reef to my sanity,” hints at the backwardness of the national ban on marijuana. Elsewhere, the ever-evolving lineup of I See Hawks in L.A. sees fit to cut loose. “Slash from Guns N’ Roses,” which hooks up those accustomed to trafficking purely in twang with some excellent rock guitar licks, is a prime example; in it, a Slash impersonator is confronted by the real deal at an L.A. party. “Motorcycle Mama,” meanwhile, revisits a beloved character from a same-named Neil Young song — here, she’s still laying her big spike down, only she sounds more inclined to a saddle up when she’s off the hog. Musically, I See Hawks in L.A.’s heavenly three-part harmonies are tight as ever, and frontman Rob Waller sounds by turns broken, brainy, and borrowed from a different, cooler planet. Should NASA ever find an outer-space mission for a whiskey-shooting country singer, he’s their man.

— Tammy La Groce

USA Today # Pick; UK Live Show Review

September 17, 2006

10-Pack Of Top Tunes 10 songs that really stood out to me in recent random listening: 1. Slash from Guns N’ Roses/I See Hawks in L.A.: Nothing like a good story song, and this is quite a tale: the saga of dueling Slashes appearing at rival L.A. parties in trendy Beachwood Canyon, with plenty of […]

Read the full post →


September 16, 2006

Oops. We were getting all misty eyed about Warner, Graham and McCain defending Constitutional rights against the Bush juggernaut. We spoke too soon. The compromise Senate bill establishing military tribunals for Guantanamo terror suspects allows for trials on U.S. soil that offend the essence of what our founding fathers established. From the Washington Post: “A […]

Read the full post →

Daily Variety: Dave Alvin/I See Hawks in L.A. At Safari Sam’s

September 16, 2006

June 27th, 2006 By Steven Mirkin . . . I See Hawks in L.A. was a perfect choice to open the show. As the title of their new album, “California Country” (Western Seeds), clues you in, the Hawks draw inspiration from Buck, the Byrds and the Burrito Bros., among others, but with a modern, at […]

Read the full post →


September 15, 2006

Sometimes pride in America flickers in this disappointed soul, like a spike in a flatlined ECG after the patient has been pronounced dead. Four battered senators take a stand for what were once unassailable principles of American democracy, now under relentless assault. If only we the people were flesh and blood, like these lonely old […]

Read the full post →


September 15, 2006

Los Angeles is a desert, both geographically and culturally, but those of us who pay rent here occasionally find an oasis in the Capital of Crap. I See Hawks In L.A. blew on the scene like a hot Santa Ana with their debut album in 2001. They blend country and psychedelia with soaring three-part harmonies […]

Read the full post →


September 15, 2006

This was a band most were unfamiliar with, but by the end of the set no one was going to forget them. Belting out some of the finest countrified rock you’ll ever hear they have set the bar high for future gigs. ‘Raised by Hippies’ and especially especially especially (it really was that good) ‘Golden […]

Read the full post →