July 2007

Brits Out

July 31, 2007

The good news is that Britain is pulling out of Northern Ireland after 38 years. The bad news is that some of them are being deployed to Iraq.
brits out.jpg
County Galway

From Topanga To The Sea

July 30, 2007

Paul L and Victoria went on their usual Tuesday hike in Topanga Canyon, and it was dry, dry, dry.

DSCN4327.jpgAll the grass is completely brown, and the trail has an inch of powder dust in the low spots.

The plants still thriving are the tough chapparal shrubs.

DSCN4319.jpgSome of the shrubs are more like trees. The western slopes of L.A. County haven’t had a major fire in an unusually long time. The Topanga air vibrates with unresolved tension. New grass from the odd July rain has already flourished and died.

DSCN4342.jpgAs we walked east on the trail out of the ranger’s headquarters, we passed a down and out couple moving their possessions through the dust, sad little pastel urban backpacks on plastic wheels, clothing bags, and an outdoor gas stove in its battered shipping box. They were dragging their stuff in shifts along the trail to a picnic area a mile away, where a similarly hardbitten sister or aunt was changing a baby’s diaper on a picnic table. I guess that’s their new home. Tom Joad has returned. It’s better than Sixth and San Julian.

DSCN4352.jpgWe reached the ridge as a golden light filtered through smog or perhaps smoke from the Santa Barbara fire. In L.A. the sun seems to set in the north, because the Santa Monica Bay faces southward to a false west. A town of illusion. We were sweaty and parched, and chugged the rest of our water.

DSCN4379.jpgFrom the ridge a wide fire road dips back towards the canyon and thick oak stands, with a grand view of the Bay (ignore the greedy Palisades Highlands McMansion cluster that should never have been built). As twilight fell, a dense cloud blanket over the Santa Monica Bay crept up the canyons towards us, glowing.

DSCN4388.jpgThe fire road dropped steeply into the fog bank, which we felt first, a drop of 15 degrees, sweet relief. Then we were in the mist, a fast moving ghost that filled Topanga in minutes.

DSCN4394.jpgIf you are in the oaks at twilight, you are almost sure to see owls, and tonight a huge one dropped onto the dirt road 50 feet in front of us, hard to see in the tricky light. We walked towards him, and he took off for the tree branches above, picking a branch too small, flapping his huge wings to balance, now sharply silhouetted. We stood and gawked for a long while, hooting, pleased when he turned his head towards us with a distinctly annoyed attitude. At last Mr. Owl flapped off the high branch, swooped over an oak and roused a companion. The two disappeared into the last light.

Dave Zirbel is a remarkable man, grounded as his truck that traversed the 5 south from the far north to L.A. this weekend, yet able to soar to the heights of cosmic steel reached by Jaydee Maness and Sneaky Pete.
On Saturday and Sunday Dave stomped on his pedals and blazed through 11 Hawks songs, stopping only for midnight carne asada at a taco truck on Figueroa near Shawn’s studio. Beautiful shimmering textures, and it’s starting to sound like a record. Thank you Dave, and godspeed to your Monday noon downbeat at the Sonoma County Fair.
Speaking of Monday morning, it’s raining. Petrichor and distant thunder wake us and we pad to the back door and stand in the gentle water. Never was it needed more.

While the West, which is located east of California, burns, it’s been pretty mellow weather here in the Southland. A few scattered fires in the hills, and just hot enough to remind you that it’s summer, and you’ve got to get out for those long languid evenings.

Our languid evening Sunday last was spent trying to find parking for The Echo on Sunset in Echo Park, EP being inundated by visitors to the strange and quaint Lotus Festival on the lake shore to the south.**

We had time for a quick soundcheck and then the Hawks were onstage backing up Christina Ortega and her longtime great guitarist/mandolinist Tom Corbett, their first L.A. show in a while. The Hawks and fiddler Cliff Wagner bumped up the Tejano-Bluegrass mix of tunes, including “Tu Solo Tu” “Milk Cow Blues,” and “Corrido de Dolores Huerta,” to wall of sound status, if we do say so ourselves, and the crowd, which was already packed out well before sundown, called Christina and friends back for an encore. Christina, let’s do it again. Old Californio, led by the mysterious and mojo filled Rich Dembowski, is the happening new band on the L.A. Americana scene. If one must compare, think Bad Company meets The Band, with thoughtful lyrics, long guitar solos that count, a funky brainy sound. They’ve got a well deserved big following after only a few live shows, and their middle slot set riveted the room.

The Hawks closed out with another great Grand Ole Echo set. This funky room is really starting to feel like home. Wall to wall fans, request yells duly honored, a rocking show, with Cliff joining the band halfway through, playing brilliantly. Tom Corbett and the irrepressible Juke Logan joined the wall of men for encore song “Wonder Valley,” with Cliff burning through Orange Blossom Special midway through the journey. Summer west of the West.On the next two languid evenings the Hawks repaired to drummer Shawn’s hillside home studio and finished five more tracks for our new CD, including unabashed hippie wanderer love paean “Gettin Home Tonight,” and we’re done with basics. A toast with McCallan’s 18 year old, tasting a bit youthful for its years, and our next move is recording pedal steel wizard Dave Zirbel this coming Saturday and Sunday. A groove oriented July so far!

**check out Michael Webster’s song “Lotus Festival” for an acid tinged journey through the lakeside festivities

Hawks Restaurant Review: The Casbah, Silverlake

July 19, 2007

We usually review only out of town dining experiences, but we feel a shoutout is due the atmospheric and consistently good Casbah, at 3900 West Sunset Blvd. in the heart of Silverlake. They open at 6 a.m., faithfully, with a great tea selection, including exotic puer and black tea cakes in exotic shapes, and baristas […]

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July 13, 2007

The Hawks Merit Badge has arrived. Get them while they last. Just click here and buy one for each member of your family.

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July 10, 2007

Rob and Paul L are experiencing that thrill of thrills, having one of your songs covered, and in this case it’s an especially rare treat, because it’s by a new band with deep traditional roots and a heavy sound: Polka Freakout. PF is Bubba Hernandez and Alex Meixner, virtuosos on bass and accordion with a […]

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July 10, 2007

The Hawks have been struggling to keep up with some kickass female energy this summer, and not just from our kickass wives. July 4th Eve brought the Hawks and the Chapin Sisters to the Echo for a surprisingly packed out evening in the midst of a heat wave that’s fossilizing the already dried out hills […]

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