Community lives on in the green forested hills of Vermont, even if it is an uneasy mix of multi-generational rural families in shorts and t-shirts, and newcomers from Boston and Austin in their vintage dresses. Where trustafarians meet ATV riding hunters who ride with their infants on their laps. Everyone waves on the back roads, glad to be among the thick trees and clear waters, a destination determined by the reliable movement of some clear internal compass.
God bless Carter and Chani and little Elvin. They’ve put up with the Hawks and living room jamming (actually, Carter instigated most of these) for five days in their 1840’s wood frame house overlooking a green valley and the hamlet of Worcester and its white steeple, and looking up to Hunger Mountain and clouds above.Carter is a percussionist and the Hawks webmaster and caretaker of Hawks Headquarters North. He and Chani are world class outdoors people, and could survive on this land of short summers and long winters if global commerce ended. Carter has introduced the Hawks to the natives, and so here we are, playing a Saturday night barn dance in the Vermont hills. As the sun heads into the trees, families drive up the long dirt road and pull off to the side, hike up the hill to the big barn, built in the 1880s as a cow barn but converted 100 years ago into the regional dance hall, where it was host to dances, gunfights, and trysts in the surrounding woods until 1972, when it shut down for the first time. The wood floor boards were pulled from surround land, and the floor hums like a vibrating string as the dancers move and bounce upon it.
It’s 2006 and the barn is back in action. We’re part of a community revivalism, strangers brought together to replicate traditional bonds: dancing on a wood floor to country music. We’ve got all the ingredients: little ones, oldsters, moms and dads, wheelbarrows full of beer, tables of potluck food, Christmas lights strung from the very high and darkened rafters, a spotlight on the wood stage at the far end where the Hawks play Haggard and Lefty along with their own numbers. Carter has called in favors from his vast Vermont network of musical friends and clients alike to cobble together a solid sound system. Add in the natural reverb of the big old barn and the San Francisco night club sound training of Uncle Folz and it all sounds great. The whole night felt very good. Good to be a dance band in a barn in the fields among the dense woods. Good to watch the children led their parents and grand parents out onto the dance floor. Good to drink the beer, smell the air, and watch the fireflies in the humid summer country night. Perhaps this is our Hawks mission: music for a return to communalism, localism. If the experiment fails, at least we can sing a sweet sad requiem, a waltz at evening’s end.