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Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem is a city built on cigarettes. The RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company is still the city’s largest employer. Second, interestingly, is the Bowman Gray Cancer Center. We are playing a gig at the Garage, a cool old punk rock club in the shadows of the city’s handful of skyscrapers. The club reminds me somehow of Al’s Bar, the historic L.A. punk rock venue downtown. The inside is all graffiti and boxes and chairs are stacked up here and there. The seating is an assortment of old chairs and couches and mismatched tables. The attitude is relaxed and slow. Several box fans buzz in high windows barely cooling the humid still air in the former body shop.

Since our last visit they’ve built an actual stage. 2 X 4s and plywood rise about six inches off the floor. It’s carpeted and deep, a nice improvement. Tony and Kip play an inspired set, at home in this classic punk rock venue. The Waller family dances outside in the parking lot, the music loud and clear in the summer night.Before the Hawks’ set, an old friend and fan from our last visit bestows us with a mason jar of genuine Wilkes County moonshine. No shit. She advises us not to mix it with anything and to chase it with cool water. The Hawks consider a life of blindness for a moment, then jump in. There’s nothing to fear here. Nothing at all. And it’s smooth, god damn it. Smoother than Wolfschmidt’s gin, that’s for sure. It tastes homemade and powerful and after a few minutes you can feel as if some kind of knob has been twisted in your brain. What a treat.
The set is relaxed and strong as the Hawks lay back into the old Carolina haze. Kip and Tony join for a big ass rock band closer of “Humboldt” and “Houseboat.” It’s a good night.