Next morning we awoke to the full splendor of our north coast funky cabins, 3rd generation legacy of Rick’s family. Mysterious guardian angel Rick (no relation to Rick Shea) is a math genius and big league surfer we met at a Hawks Caltech show. This morning he made pancakes and eggs, elegantly simple, like any good theorem. Gray waves beyond the cliffs serenaded our departure, and a sand spit arcing north was littered with 50 foot timbers washed from unknown forests.
South we drove, on a tight schedule for soundcheck in Felton in the Santa Cruz mountains. Which didn’t deter us from a thorough search of Healdsburg for a non-corporate lunch, and we found it in a panini/espresso shop, most excellent. Traffic was kind as we 101ed south, forests and ridges flattening to fields, rising again in Marin, then over the Golden Gate bridge, down the 280, our drive mysteriously free of traffic. Even the 17 over the pass was light, and we arrived at Don Quixotes, nestled in the gentle forest, inexplicably on time for sound check. Don Quixotes is a former Swiss Chalet style Italian restaurant (its massive wood beams were brought from Italy in 1953), now serving Mexican food, with a great sound system.
It was a shock to hear our vocals clear like mountain streams after the sludge of The Alibi, but we quickly adjusted, had a great acoustic show, with Rick Shea’s friend Chojo Jacques sitting in on adroit fiddle and mandolin. Tom Miller is the local kingpin of enlightened taste, and Don Quixotes is continuing the tradition of excellent roots music in the gentle dale of Felton, a twisting green mountains drive from Santa Cruz. Paul M’s daughter Stephanie attends UCSC and the Hawks stayed at her apartment, with Paul L hanging with the Moms and sister Mary at Chez Mom in Capitola.
Next morning we did a live radio show on KUSP, in its new building in Santa Cruz, with a fine sounding interview/performance room, DJ Rob and his dry wit coaxing the Hawks and Rick Shea’s dark worldview from its pre-coffee morning shadows. Rob told the story of Hargis Scoggins, legendary and unsung California country session drummer: THE LEGEND OF HARGIS SCOGGINS
Hargis’s heyday was the mid-1950’s to late 60’s, and he bounced between Los Angeles and Nashville studios, as well as burning up the California highways in countless five sets a night honky tonk gigs. Originally from Oildale, Hargis’s lubricated groove made the stiffnecked Bakersfield country artists a little nervous, but his less than metronomical time earned him a niche in the brief golden age of California Country-Soul music. Hargis’s uncle Hargis was the first bandleader to use a big pedal steel guitar section, with up to eight steelers struggling to find a common tone center. Augmented by a 10 piece horn section and a pool of electric guitarists and bass players, Hargis and his nephew Hargis were the front and back end of a country cluster bomb, but they found a steady gig entertaining the upper crust old money families of Buenos Aires from 1951 to 1954.Returning to the United States with several hundred thousnd dollars in soon to be worthless Argentine cattle futures, Hargis and Hargis quarreled bitterly over who would receive top billing in future shows: Hargis wanted “Hargis and Hargis Scoggins and their Country Big Band,” but Hargis insisted on “Hargis Scoggins with Hargis Scoggins.” Nephew and uncle never spoke again. The California Country-Soul movement was dead.
Cut loose from Hargis for the first time in his adult life, Hargis played the streets of Nashville for several years, dragging his drum kit from street corner to street corner, before John “Hargis” Deacon, up and coming hotshot producer, took a chance on the still wild drummer. Hargis’s first session, for Wynn Stewart resulted in an album that has still not seen the light of day, Many session followed, including sides for Marty Robbins that also were not released. Hargis developed a reputation as “cursed,” and his session work declined rapidly. By 1969 he was roadying for Willie Nelson, sitting in when one of the 2 or three regular drummers was incapacitated.Hargis Scoggins doesn’t appear on any album credits or liner notes, but his obscurity is almost assured in the annals of country music. Hargis crossed paths with I See Hawks In L.A. when they were thrown together for the pilot of Billy Block’s “Survivor, Country Style,” slinging sides of bacon at each other across a narrow Tennessee gorge while trying to locate the secret moonshine still. Hargis is going strong despite a rapidly spiking dementia, and the Hawks plan on trotting him out at live shows to lend street cred to their alienated and possibly treasonous lyrics and song structures.
After the radio show, the Hawks and Rick had a massive breakfast at a fine and unfortunately unnamed Santa Cruz cafe, then scattered, some to the beach. Paul L crossed the street to another cafe, joining his sister Mary, a dedicated anti-genetic engineered foods organizer, who was meeting with two filmmakers about a documentary on genetically modified trees. It’s coming folks, trees that won’t reproduce so that Monsanto can own their future, trees with no supporting fibers for easier pulping but an unfortunate tendency to fall over. Beware the walk in the forest!
A late afternoon southward Hawks caravan to Monterey turned ugly when the already strained Highway 1 stopped dead in its tracks, an ambulance whining in the far distance. The caravan reached Monterey Live just in time for sound check. Monterey is a beautiful town, the ocean winds sweeping its low basin and up into the hills, and a lively farmer’s market was filling the streets. We snuck into Monterey Live from a back alley.ML is a brand new club, built from an older adobe structure, with fantastic sound and a dedicated crew. Rick’s set was the best of the tour, wish we’d recorded it, and the Hawks show was also dandy, good crowd and good vibes.
A farewell to sister Mary, Shawn’s mother-in-law, pristine air and cool breezes, and the Hawks and Rick loaded up and hit the road, late night dash for home.