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Americana UK: Something for the (long) weekend: I See Hawks in LA/Great Willow “Radio Keeps Me on the Ground”

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Well that’s a wrap from us for this week dear reader. Enjoy your “stay at home” VE Day celebrations if you’re doing anything, remembering of course that we don’t have to live on the borrowed symbolism of some imagined time when we’ve got heroes in each and every one of our communities right now. We’ll be back on Monday but for this week we’re leaving you with the new collaboration between LA americana legends I See Hawks in LA and Great Willow, who both took up 88.5 KCSN’s Nic Harcourt’s recent #togethertunes invitation and created the terrific song‘Radio Keeps Me On The Ground‘ which you can stream or download from here. Have a good one and stay safe.

>>> Please help to support musicians affected by the coronavirus crisis in the UK by donating £2 a month to us – we’ll send you an exclusive 20 track curated playlist every month plus the opportunity to win tickets and CDs. Click here for more information. 

markamericana

Liverpool, UK

Editor of Americana UK website, the UK’s leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)

TWANGVILLE: RADIO KEEPS ME ON THE GROUND

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020 BY SHAWN UNDERWOOD 

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If you were born in the last century, radio, not podcasts or downloads, was the soundtrack to your life. That’s the idea behind an interesting collaboration between I See Hawks In LA and Great Willow, both LA bands. Nic Harcourt, DJ at KCSN, one of the epicenters of Americana in southern California, issued a pandemic challenge: collaborate on a song with another band entirely remotely. So with a little Facetiming to solidify the idea, Hawks and Willow members started emailing tracks back and forth until they had a final mix that satisfied everyone. The song is called Radio Keeps Me On the Ground, and if you download it from Bandcamp 25% of the proceeds go to a charity for at-risk Angelenos, the hardest hit community in our state.

About the author:   I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night. 


FILED UNDER: AMERICANACOUNTRY TAGGED WITH: GREAT WILLOWI SEE HAWKS IN L.A.

Hawks and Great Willow Release Collaborative Single “Radio Keeps Me On The Ground”

 I See Hawks In L.A. & Great Willow release  “Radio Keeps Me On The Ground” acoustic/electric single about coronavirus crisis

May 22 2020

digital only release all streaming & download platforms (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc) 

It started with an invitation from DJ Nic Harcourt at premier L.A. Americana radio station KCSN 88.5 FM:   collaborate on a coronavirus themed song with your musical friends, make healing music for these upended times.  A project called #TogetherTunes              

I See Hawks In L.A. and fellow Los Angeles folkies Great Willow have a longstanding mutual admiration society, and when James Combs of the Willow invited the Hawks to collaborate, they jumped on it.

Writing and recording by email has been interesting.

James and Hawks guitarist/songwriter Paul Lacques traded song ideas and came up with two very different sketches based on Paul’s chorus hook.  Interesting.  Now we had two songs.  Hawks singer/songwriter Rob Waller climbed aboard on a glitchy Facetime session with Paul, wrestling the two versions into verses and bridges, came up with a few more lines, and voila: “Radio Keeps Me On The Ground.” 

What started with lyrics addressing our upended lives turned into a love letter to radio, the constant in our lives pre and post crisis, the magic in the air, the aether, the wide open.

James recorded acoustic guitars and lead vocals, cyber sent his tracks to Paul, who cut his electric and steel, with Hawks drummer Victoria adding drums and vocals, in their Highland Park studio.  Rob and bassist Paul Marshall cut and emailed their tracks, with some sweet organ added by GW’s Ed Barguiarena.   Four time Grammy winner Alfonso Rodenas mixed and mastered.  A classic country rock sound resulted, emerging with soul from its digital realm.  

Just for fun, we did a more ethereal acoustic (Datura version) of the song, resulting in a two song electric/acoustic single.

“Radio Keeps Me On The Ground” addresses the crisis as viewed from our windows and screens, contrasting the limitations of today with the freedom of the road of just yesterday.  But no matter how bombarded we are by the reality of the streets or the info overload of the web we all live by, there’s always radio.  In our backyards or kitchens, it keeps us real. On the ground.

www.iseehawks.com                  contact Paul:        lacques at sonic.net

www.greatwillowmusic.com      
contact James:      jamescombsmusic at me.com

listen now!

RADIO KEEPS ME ON THE GROUND                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lacques/Combs/Waller

It’s never been easier 
To lose your mind
Rabbit holes in the cloud
You don’t even have to try
You don’t have to cry
Or walk on by

Radio keeps me on the ground            
Radio keeps me on the ground

There’s never been a lonelier time
To learn to breathe in a way
That you won’t have to fly
Be fertile in this empty time
This will pass
By and by

 Radio keeps me on the ground
Radio keeps me on the ground

  A stranger’s voice
An invisible wind
Your almost friend
He’s almost you, you’re almost him
Yeah, she’s almost you
You’re almost you
But it’s different
On the road unsigned
Unknown frequencies
A twist of the dial
Unknown frequencies
A twist of the dial                 

Radio keeps me on the ground
Radio keeps me on the ground

Hawks In Silver City, NV Saturday, Jan 11th, 2020

Americana UK reviews “Hawks with Good Intentions”

by Paul Kerr
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California’s I See Hawks In L.A. and Liverpool’s Good Intentions met and became friends at a house concert in California back in 2012. Since then, the bands have shared stages in the States and here in the UK and along the way they began writing some songs together, the first fruits of their joint effort displayed on the Hawks’ last album, ‘Live And Never Learn‘, which had two songs co-written with Peter Davies of Good Intentions. Bouncing emails and mp3 files across the Atlantic they eventually came up with the ten songs on display here, sections recorded in L.A. and Liverpool with each of the bands’ contributions stitched together so well that the join is never seen. As it says on the sleeve, “Gleaming technology serving acoustic guitars and down home harmonies.”

It’s primarily an acoustic album with drums on only one song and some spare lap and slide guitar from Paul Lacques present. Lead vocals are shared between Davies and the Hawks’ Rob Waller and Victoria Jacobs while the other member of Good Intentions, Gabrielle Monk, weighs in on backing vocals. As such, it’s a collection which is finely laidback as various guitars strum and harmonies float reminding one of the “wooden music” side of CSN&Y or the more blissed out moments of the good ole’ Grateful Dead along with a sprinkling of acts such as The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Loggins & Messina. Writing in various permutations with Waller, Lacques and Jacobs, Davies has a hand in all but one song and it’s his voice which opens the album on ‘Blue Heaven‘, a sun dappled slice of nostalgia laden with harmonies and sly Dobro, the kind of song which could accompany faded home movies of flower children celebrating. Waller takes the reins for the following western themed ‘Things Like This‘, a taut Larry McMurtry like murder tale which skittles along like tumbleweed before Weller and Davies swap their contrasting lead vocals on ‘Rolling The Boxcars‘, a gambling song with the protagonists always on the losing end with the song delivered as if all were singing around a late night campfire.

Plenty to admire then in this opening triumvirate which showcases the strengths of both ends of this collaboration. But there’s much more to come as the combo accommodate the folkier side of Davies on the Tom Paxton like ‘Rambling Girl‘ (with The Punch Brothers’ Gabe Whitcher on fiddle) and then  allow Waller to deliver the excellent railroad chug of ‘Steel Rails‘. ‘White Cross‘, one of the songs which appeared on ‘Live And Never Learn‘, remains as sinewy as the original while ‘Flying Now‘ finds Davies down on his luck but ever hopeful on a song which recalls the late Ronnie Lane especially with its accordion accompaniment from Richie Lawrence. ‘Epiphany On Town Hall Square‘, while fitting well into its surroundings in terms of its delivery, is somewhat odd, bearing as it does, echoes of a Christmas carol in its setting but the closing ‘Will You Watch Over Me‘, the one song written solely by Lacques and Waller, is bang in the Hawks canon as it gently rolls along with rippling guitar accompaniment  invoking a greater spirit.

Collaborations can often be tricky affairs but it feels safe to say that on this occasion fans of either band will be satisfied by ‘Hawks With Good Intentions’. It simply  radiates good vibes as these transatlantic cousins find common cause.

Hands Across The Water

7/10

LAWeekly Names Hawks Best Country Group

I See Hawks In L.A.

EXPAND

Best Country Group
I See Hawks In L.A. are a house band of the Hippie diaspora. Twenty years and eight albums on (with a ninth en route), the country-rock quartet has supplied pot anthems (“Humboldt”), political profiles in courage (“Byrd From West Virginia”) and ecological laments (theme song “I See Hawks In L.A.”). Baritone lead singer Rob Waller and virtuosic string slinger Paul Lacques scribe these literate, pointed contemporary classics, while drummer Victoria Jacobs contributed the loopy hoot “My Parka Saved Me.” With bassist Paul Marshall, the front line’s close harmony is reminiscent of The Byrds — both flocks being rootsy and psychedelic avian-christened Los Angeles-based freaks. —Michael Simmons

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L.A. TIMES : I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. DELIVERS MORE TIMELESS TWANG

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by Randall Roberts
Los Angeles Times
July 19, 2018

I See Hawks in L.A., “Live and Never Learn” (Western Seeds Record Company). Within the first two verses of this longtime twang band’s eighth studio album, singer-guitarist Rob Waller has asked some big questions about contemporary America, and has done so through a genre — guitar-driven country rock — that hasn’t changed much since the Nixon presidency.

After noting in opening song “Ballad for the Trees” that that “every age is without precedent,” Waller wonders whether “we’ve broken with how to be alone,” and asks, “Are we drowning in the sea/ Of facts that come too easily/ And friends we never see?”

Perhaps, but if so, Waller and band don’t dwell on it. Across the 14 songs on “Live and Never Learn,” I See Hawks in L.A. touch on less heady themes such as smoking weed in a basement while watching the Eddie Murphy movie “Trading Places” on a black-and-white TV; smoking weed after a breakup with someone who then becomes a born-again Christian; taking speed and listening to country music; and a titular “King of the Rosemead Boogie,” who “hocked himself a loogie” that he “spit in the air just like he didn’t care” — and then consumed a cocktail of “two Jacks and one toke, some shatter and some coke” and “a capacity of dope.”

Trouble? Waller, co-founding electric guitarist Paul Lacques and the rhythm section of Paul Marshall (bass) and and Victoria Jacobs (drums) seem to know its contours. Even when Waller tries to convey sunshine, it comes at a price. The final song, “Stop Me,” finds his narrator staring at the sun because it’s so beautiful, unable to look away and begging for help.

He runs a parallel idea on songwriting in the next verse. “Stop me, I’ve been singing on this street for too long/ Trying to find my way to a beautiful song.” As if he’s helpless, the artist seems to rail against a muse that produces regardless of outcome — “staring into the sun/ This used to be fun/ I’m starting to believe/ there’s no prize to be won.”

AMERICANA UK LIVE REVIEW: HAWKS LONDON SHOW AT THE GREEN NOTE

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I See Hawks In LA, The Green Note, London, 19th July 2018

Posted on July 23, 2018

I See Hawks In LA opened their extensive UK tour with this sold out performance at London’s Green Note, and were in fine form. Playing as a four piece and “acoustic” with Paul Lacques on lead guitar, Victoria Jacobs on snare drum and tiny cymbal, Rob Waller on guitar and lead vocals and Paul Marshall the one exception to the acoustic rule by playing electric bass. They began their first set with a song that really tells you all you need to know about I See Hawks In LA – ‘Raised by Hippies‘.

It’s a celebration of a woman who was born on an old school bus after the Summer Of Love, and who, despite going out into the world when older, is never broken down by the constraints of the world to abandon a faith in what’s important in life – people, love, caring.  Sounds heavy – but it isn’t; it’s beautifully crafted, like all I See Hawks In LA songs, there’s a common clinging to a world view that is about more than greed and spite. And if there’s something wrong with that then we’ll need a written counter-argument with diagrams. It’s not a naive song – Rob Waller acknowledges that the parents “did some things wrong” before adding “but they raised their children right / and they did it for a song“. It’s a sentiment that reappears on ‘Tearing me in too‘ which Rob wryly introduces as being about those feelings “when you’re out on the road playing music – but you miss your family, although sometimes you’re with your children and….you really want to be playing music.” The eternal dichotomy of dual loves. It’s a song, like many others, that is taken from the band’s new album ‘Live and Never Learn‘ – which is another excellent collection.

All through the set Paul Lacques adds wonderful guitar solos that lift lightly from the ground, whilst Paul Marshall keeps everything grounded with his discretely interjecting bass and Victoria Jacobs performs literal miracles of brushed drumming with her instrument – one can’t really raise a single snare to the heady heights of being a drum kit. Despite all this, there are occasional claims in the first set of moments of synchronised jet lag – the Hawks had only landed in the UK the day before – and these claims are repeated in the interval as the band hang-out and chat relaxedly with the audience. But if this is truly I See Hawks In LA slightly sub-par then no-one but the band could tell. The first set had slipped by in a dreamy flash, with a glorious ‘I Fell in Love with the Grateful Dead‘ closing it out. It’s a great song of a Dead-Head’s adventures, taking to the trail and following Gerry and the band across the States and on to Europe. It’s not nostalgia – it’s just the retelling of a great musical quest, vegetarian food and the bonds of friendship in a loose community.

There’s a similar feeling of a happy retelling on ‘Good andFoolish Times’ which jounces along like a battered vehicle driven just a little too fast down a dusty side road as Rob Waller sings “Didn’t we have some good times ? / some good and foolish times ? / Didn’t we have some good and foolish times ? / Didn’t we take some long rides / some long and winding rides?” and the band harmonise behind him.

The second set was geared a little more towards the higher tempo and rocky reaches of I See Hawks In LA output. ‘Humboldt‘ is a road trip for not strictly legal purposes song which pounds along down the freeways with Paul Laques’ guitar just burning higher and higher. If this was a fist-pumping audience then fists would have been pumped. There’s a swinging ‘Live and Never Learn‘ which beats along like a train down a track whilst pointing out how unlikely it is that unthinking and foolish behaviour will ever stop being foolish and unthinking. Ultimately the futility is self-deprecatingly spelt out: “every slight, every way I treated her unkind, every promise I knew I’d break, every friend looks the other way, every leap I never took”.

In the first set ‘California Country‘ had been virtually a description of the sound of I See Hawks In LA – there’s country in the mix but it’s really country influenced rock, steering tonight towards an acoustic set from that inspiring band The Grateful Dead. There’s the same kind of mix of lyrical wonder and the really small parts of life that are maybe the most important parts as well. It’s not, though, the totality of their sound – Paul Marshall took lead vocal duties for a straight country ballad ‘Truth is – you lied‘ whilst Rob and Victoria take call and response turns to tell the story of a bad car crash on the folky meets soul ‘My parka‘. This is a song that gets laughs – especially when Rob Waller’s fantasy that the liquor store owning drunk driver who hit Victoria Jacobs is struck with remorse and hands out free booze to her “all through high school.” This is slapped down with “hey Bob, that never happened.” This, though, is not the heart of the song, amusing as it is, but this is the true nugget: “my parents came to the Emergency Room and when they took my parka off chunks of glass fell out onto the floor / and my Dad burst into tears…and that’s when I knew he loved me.” Heart and family.

Wry humour, great music, unabashed joy of living, lovely harmony singing, foolishness, environmental concerns and the hazards of love – the upsides and the downsides of caring about someone. That’s what a couple of hours in the company of I See Hawks In LA is about. They have a long road ahead of them in July and August; it’s doubtful if they’ll reach the end with any T-Shirts or CDs left; they may even be a bit more battered – but triumphant as well. There is surely no better time to get out and see I See Hawks In LA.

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan’s music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That’s not much to ask, is it?