≡ Menu

June 2008

JUNE OF DRYING CALIFORNIA

June. June of the 21st century. June of a drying California. Yellow hills from Highland Park through the Grapevine, relieved by one strange hillside of mottled blues and greens, and a steep slope blackened from a fire, like a burnt hunk of bread. We’re on the 5 north again. How many times have we done this drive? The same thoughts are triggered by the same monuments:

Gorman. A 1968 family trip into the deep hills, Indian artifacts, a spring, an Old Californio family ranch. Lebec. My aunt Chinky and her single wide full of sons. The 5/99 divergence. Mystery. The 99 not taken. Systems collapse. Mesopotamia was green. As were we.Rob has a new cell phone, the Sony Ericsson. It delivers email, FM, XM, video, has a guitar tuner, and an on call suicide watch. It’s a gateway device to the iPhone. Rob is sitting in the back seat of the Yukon, programming Sony Ericsson, reading the manual, with the calm that only people born after 1970 can manage. He hasn’t called tech support even once, and we’re halfway to Berkeley.

Paul M sits next to Rob, paying his bills, renewing his membership in NORML. Shawn is driving and talking on his cell. Paul is wired on chocolate infused trail mix, hence this blog.To Berkeley. Where we’re playing at Strings, a private music joint and living remnant of hippiedom, like a Gaeltacht village clinging to a Donegal cliffside. The pastoral nature of Strings is effectively concealed by a down and out San Pablo Street storefront, but inside await Moroccan pillows, vibrant art and drapery, a green and cool inner courtyard, and good good good good vibrations.

Rob’s nostrils are burning from the infamous CCC (cow concentration camp, aka Kauschwitz, Kracow, Bergen Bessie). Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.

[continue reading…]

RELEASE

A grand time was had by all at our CD release party yesterday evening at the Grand Old Echo, thank you Kim and Pam, hostesses with the mostessness.

Our big day started a bit too early for comfort: we met Watusi Rodeo radio host and L.A. roots music kingpin Chris Morris at a Miracle Mile coffee shop at 8:15 a.m. for some desperately needed caffeine. Paul L opted for green tea instead of coffee, then decided he had to have a chocolate cookie, for which he was mocked by aforementioned radio host. Paul M and our old acquaintances the Mother Truckers arrived simultaneously, with a sleep deprived Rob chugging past in the soon to be obsolete Hawks Yukon, seeking parking.The caffeine buzz was mild at best but the adrenaline kicked in just as Chris finished up a Bo Diddley tribute medly, and we leaned into the big mics and sang our hearts out. Witty banter with the witty Chris, some more songs, long treks down labyrinthine halls of the gleaming Variety building, and we were out of there, back into the still still morning air of Los Angeles in the first decade of the 21st century.

Some of us napped, but not Paul M, who drove to Irvine for an outdoor party gig. The man is made of iron, and he comes to play.We all arrived late for our own party of course, quickly set up our gear at the Echo with the sun still burning in the west. Old Californio blazed through a set of their irresistible songs and good vibes. Mike Stinson did his lone troubadour acoustic show, the last hero standing in the honky tonk.
2564904048_4afb3e95b5.jpg
Photos by Rena Kosnett

The goddess like if not actual goddesses Chapin Sisters mesmerized the room with three songs, backed up by the Hawks. See it captured in print by the L.A. Weekly blog.

2564905792_cba9266619.jpg

Then we were by ourselves and slowly but surely lifted off, from a rush of energy by the packed out crowd. It passed as if in a moment, a few encores and we were swamped by our very good friends and family. What a night. .

PASADENA WEEKLY REVIEW, BLURT REVIEW

logo.jpg
A decidedly and defiantly LA band, the Hawks never shy away from political or environmental statements. Or humor. On their musically accomplished, more-cosmic-folk-than-country fourth album (which namechecks local byways, geographical points and musicmaking pals Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson and Kip Boardman), the wit’s even more cynical — and necessary, to temper the rage fueling “Carbon Dated Love,” “In the Garden,” “Environmental Children of the Future” and grimly amusing “Ever Since the Grid Went Down.” In that context of loving life, nature and land that nurtures it, the heart-tugging title track assumes multiple meanings (“There’s a child and a mortgage sleeping in our bed/ I’m wide awake with these worries in my head”). — Bliss

ai.jpg

This band’s secret is idiosyncratically unusual songwriting. Waller and guitarist Paul Lacques write like hip university professors, or post-countercultural novelists, and their lyrics are fascinating and full of provocative ideas, a rarity in rock.

“Yolo Country Airport” is a cool, dramatic song about flying home as potential superstars. “Carbon Dated Love,” an existentialist, epiphanous tale about two hikers becoming one with nature, is a marvel of imagist detail. “Environment Children of the Future,” a ballad, balances sincerity about ecological awareness among young people with a killer “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus. The apocalyptic rocker “Ever Since the Grid Went Down” imagines being forced to live “like an honest man” – it’s meant ironically – in order to survive a societal collapse. A detour into Celtic music is ill-advised and the production by Lacques could be more forceful. But this is one fascinating band.

Standout Tracks: “Carbon Dated Love,” “Ever Since the Grid Went Down” — STEVEN ROSEN

L.A. TIMES

logo_blue.gif
hd_soundboard.gif

hawks.jpg

Despite rumors of its untimely demise, L.A. country is, in fact, still alive and well. It’s just gone underground – or rather, taken to the skies. I See Hawks in L.A. is that rare local bird, an Americana act in a city where rock rules the roost. “[We’re] sort of mavericks,” states lead singer Rob Waller (at right, with Shawn Nourse, left, Paul Lacques and Paul Marshall). “Sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, I see hawks’ and you tell your hawk stories.”

[continue reading…]

Hallowed Ground #1 On FAR Chart

The Hawks new album Hallowed Ground hit the big #1 on the Freeform American Roots chart in May, narrowly beating out folk goddess Eliza Gilkyson and Texas standard bearer Hayes Carll. FAR charts are compiled from maverick roots country DJs around the globe, the ones that play exactly what they feel like playing.

Far left of left lefty Paul L and his further left mom are quite pleased at this review that appeared in Counterpunch:cpheader6.gif

Robins WeepBy RON JACOBS

Some days I wake up and the music I hear in my head is the chorus to Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” All day long I hear that lonesome whippoorwill until night finally falls, the midnight train whining in the distance. It’s not that I’m lonely or anything, mind you, yet that haunting chorus becomes the day’s soundtrack.There’s a band out of southern California that renders music as uniquely forlorn as any Hank Williams tune. The name of that group is, somewhat mysteriously, I See Hawks In LA. Composed of founder Rob Waller on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, guitarist Paul Lacques, former Strawberry Alarm Clock bassist Paul Marshall and percussionist Shawn Nourse, I See Hawks In LA bring experienced musicianship (and many experienced guest musicians) to their work. Echoes of the Byrds and Gram Parsons and even The Holy Modal Rounders inform the music this group makes while its lyrics touch on themes of war, peace, freedom, family and that greatest topic of all, love. Sometimes the lyrics are full of humor and sometimes they are full of sadness. Sometimes they sing of the counterculture and sometimes one hears ironic commentary on today’s commercial culture of brands and empty meaning. Waller’s vocal delivery is a countrified alto that capably evokes whichever emotion the song hopes to convey.

Click here to continue reading ROBINS WEEP—–

Bye, Bo

Bo Diddley has passed on. Another giant enters the great unknown.

I was fortunate to get to play and record with the man in the mid-1980’s, as part of The Bonedaddys. Arguably the first World Beat band in the U.S., The Bonedaddys fearlessly mixed African, funk, New Orleans, hillbilly, Cajun, and Zydeco rhythms and original songs. We got to open for a dazzling variety of international and American roots legends, and became road buddies with Burning Spear and The Neville Brothers, among others. We got a lot of schooling out there.307.jpg

Our lead singer King Cotton introduced Bo Diddley to the Bonedaddys, and we played several packed out shows together in Phoenix and L.A., at the late great Palomino and the Music Machine, and on the Joan Rivers Show. At our first and only rehearsal, Bo’s road manager, a towering man in a suit that no doubt few said no to, stopped me and Phil Gough, the other guitar player, in mid-song. “Bo don’t play that no more.” He was referring to the famous Bo Diddley beat.

What were we to do? It soon didn’t matter, as the rehearsal consisted of very brief run throughs of the hits, and then a long jam.In concert, it was one long improvisation, kicked off by a guitar line from Bo, and we’d fall in behind him–not just hard driving beats, but often spacey, dreamlike wanderings that had the audience and the band transfixed. Bo was clearly an artist, stretching his own boundaries, with no interest in looking back. When we played the hits, we did indeed sneak in the signature clave on guitar. It seemed cool. The scary manager was pleased with the wild crowd reaction and spared our lives. Us Bonedaddys were in hog heaven.

We wrote and recorded a song with Bo, called “Say, Bo” that’s finally come out 20 years later, about the long river from Ghana rhythms to American funk.Several of us went into the studio with Bo to record tracks for the movie “Tapeheads,” which is hopefully in the vinyl bins at Amoeba Records. Bo showed us the features of his latest trademark square guitar, which was loaded with internal electronics, including a phase shifter, and weighed a ton. Between takes Bo was sketching constantly in his pad. We recorded Bo’s “Surfer’s Love Chant,” and some other tracks. Bo nodded at me to play the fills and solos. Me? Are you sure? Well, okay.

Bo signed my metronome. He didn’t need one. He was one. — Paul L
p.s. this was just posted on YouTube, Bo & Bonedaddys on the Late Show, 1987. I was on the road with my polka band Rotondi, watched it from a hotel room in Buffalo, that’s the great Larry Knight subbing for me, check out young and pompadoured Juke Logan on the harp:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

Robins Weep: The Music of I See Hawks in L.A. (Counterpunch)

Unknown-1.gif

By RON JACOBS
Counterpunch.org

Some days I wake up and the music I hear in my head is the chorus to Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” All day long I hear that lonesome whippoorwill until night finally falls, the midnight train whining in the distance. It’s not that I’m lonely or anything, mind you, yet that haunting chorus becomes the day’s soundtrack.

There’s a band out of southern California that renders music as uniquely forlorn as any Hank Williams tune. The name of that group is, somewhat mysteriously, I See Hawks In LA. Composed of founder Rob Waller on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, guitarist Paul Lacques, former Strawberry Alarm Clock bassist Paul Marshall and percussionist Shawn Nourse, I See Hawks In LA bring experienced musicianship (and many experienced guest musicians) to their work. Echoes of the Byrds and Gram Parsons and even The Holy Modal Rounders inform the music this group makes while its lyrics touch on themes of war, peace, freedom, family and that greatest topic of all, love. Sometimes the lyrics are full of humor and sometimes they are full of sadness. Sometimes they sing of the counterculture and sometimes one hears ironic commentary on today’s commercial culture of brands and empty meaning. Waller’s vocal delivery is a countrified alto that capably evokes whichever emotion the song hopes to convey.

[continue reading…]

DESERT IN BLOOM

The word was out that it was a good spring for desert flowers, and so Paul L and Victoria hit the road on an early March dawn, surprising ourselves at such a disciplined departure. We were breakfasting amidst the rock climbers and hard to pigeonhole hipsters at The Crossroads in Joshua Tree by 8:30 a.m. What a treasure is The Crossroads, enabler of high desert gentrification though it may be. And who are we, after all, if not the gentry?

Eastward, northward through 29 Palms and the Marine bars and tattoo parlors, eastward on Amboy Crater Road, past The Palms bar, so strange to see it in morning sun, and wondrous to see the wildflowers, for they are indeed lining the cracked asphalt and blanketing the sands among the scrub. We turn left at the big curve, then miles straight northward through desert hills and eerie salt flats, distant booms from artillery drills, and we behold:Amboy Crater.jpg
Amboy Crater, with a dusting of green, surrounded by fields of flowers. It’s all true.

Lupines.jpgFlowers

Further down Amboy Crater Road.jpgIguana lizard.jpg

We drove north into the East Mojave reserve. This is the Old Mojave Road, an ancient Indian trail used as a wagon trail, then a truck route through the 1950’s:The Old Mojave Trail.jpg