Hawks News

In the Nest and On the Road

RANCHITO NICASIO

June 17, 2008

There’s no business like show business. Indeed. Day three of the Hawks tourette brought the Hawks into the gentle yellowing hillsides of western Marin and the hallowed hall of Rancho Nicasio, nestled in a flat valley near a poignant old wood church with archetypical steeple and cross, little valley surrounded by rolling hills with cattle, burros, and rusting barb wire fences. The Rancho started as a stagecoach stop in the 1880s but it still retains the 1950s supper club style it has carried along now for half a century. White linen table clothes and little crystal candle holders.

And the promise of backline. A gig that was originally booked as a Lacques doubleheader, with Matthew’s band, Nearly Beloved, opening for I See Hawks In L.A. in the psychic center of Not L.A. Would the brotherhood embodied onstage flow out into the assembled throng and break down the interstate love barrier? Not this time. Tony Joe White became available to play that night, so he became the headliner, and Hawks the opener. Bye, brother. But, no problem. We like playing with legends.

“Don’t move the drums.” “You can’t use the bass amp for bass. That’s for Tony’s keyboard player, it can’t be moved.” Tony’s road manager is peeing on the fence. Uh, oh. Is this going to be not fun? Well, Tyson, the keyboard player turned out to be cool. At least the amp sharing is going to work. We get a brief but efficient soundcheck. Let’s rock.

Should we rock? They’re all eating dinner in a well lit room under wagon wheel chandeliers. Time for our wedding-dinner set of soft jazz and pop standards? We ease into Hitchiker. They like it. Maybe we can leave a little love here after all, and take some back with us. We build to a restrained peak, more like a well rounded large hill, and the crowd is with us. We finish our set and clear off the stage. Out into the green yard of a rancho flat in the sweet valley, oh yes, we are in the bosom of Marin. We throw horse shoes, hang with family and friends, laugh and catch up in the cooling night. Rancho Nicasio. The sun makes a discreet exit, behind oaks, fences in shadow, and shadowed ridge.Tony Joe White has appeared in his chair center stage as if spirited there by swamp magic. His Fender Strat crackles and spits, snarls and sneers, and his voice is a bear’s growl from the deep recesses of a cavern. Tony Joe is an American Blues Singer from the South. Then he does the big ones: “Rainy Night In Georgia,” and “Polk Salad Annie”; dancers crowd the floor, and an owl screeches at Rob Waller as he walks under a tall tree in the darkness outside. .

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