by Guest Blogger Folz
A quick flashback to San Francisco, Thursday July 7. Flashback often being the best (only?) method for ingesting-digesting whatever-the-hell-exactly-it-is that goes down when doing a show in the City by the Bay. Hawks RW and PL in particular know this all too well, having both declared on Thursday night, without hesitation, that the entire city itself was haunted. As an 11-year local and longtime band affiliate, I’m qualified to say that they were speaking the gospel on this one; while other pronouncements may tend to come more lightly, this was a serious matter, and they knew it. It was a matter of the weather. Indeed, in the heart of summer, the Hawks had returned to the city of the multilayered monster fog. Peel it back cautiously, my friends, as you’ll find equal parts truth, glory, and evil.Actually, just to sidetrack for a minute here: Café Du Nord. It was a great show, the band was ever in the pocket. The drinks were reasonably priced, the lesbians lording over the pool table remained perfectly friendly, even though one of them had to politely inform RW and me that we had inadvertently coveted her rack. PM was 98 percent professional about the fact that the club provided the band with Miller High Life and meatloaf that carried a $3 surcharge. SN looked especially relaxed behind the drum kit, tanned and rested from his recent side trip to Gaum for a couple quick shows with L.A. neo-punkers, Camaro Rouge. Other observations: Songs from the new record-in-progress got the NorCal crowd plenty juiced — keep your ears peeled for “Motorcycle Mama,” she’s a gem. It’s also clear that PL has now made a regular practice of levitating several inches off the stage during the outro on “Humboldt.” Speaking of outros, somebody whispered a rumor in my ear after the set that PM may be connected to the origination of the very concept. (Even with all those bad-ass jazz cats from the ’40s and shit, you may be wondering?) I can tell you that a couple of inquiries were later made. Some vigorous, though relatively brief, debate ensued. No definitive conclusions were reached.
But I digress. We were standing on the high tundra of Market Street, cross street Sanchez, the east-bound marine layer lashing us all something fierce. Spirits remained spirited, sure, but we all knew it was a bona fide situation: PL was downright spooked, his shoulder-length grey locks tossing some mad, mad shadows against the windows of the band’s trusty new-old Chevy Bomb Squad Suburban. At one point the treacherous currents stole a loose page from PL’s “fortnight -at-a-glance,” flinging it into the middle of Market Street where it got pummeled by an F-line streetcar and was swirled away into oblivion.”Coldest damn city in America,” RW said, hands jammed into his pockets. It was July. He had a point.
PL was hanging onto his hat, eyes squinting. “I didn’t need that anymore,” he offered. It was the stand-up thing to say, but he was wrong. Ten minutes later, as the chatter of friends and teeth continued, the page reappeared, skimming the sidewalk and brushing up against the doorman’s stool a few feet away, tattered but intact. This is the kind of mojo we’re talking about here, folks.
“Great!” PL said, as I handed it back to him, the strange markings no more intelligible than they were before. PL wanted to know what the page said, but there was nothing else I could do for him at that point. People tend to bullshit about the weather when there’s nothing else to talk about. But the road-tested Hawks know better, and RW in particular, who used to call this town home, knew this was weather of an entirely different sort. Strange and provocative weather. Insidious weather. Ghosted weather. Weather they sure as hell won’t be showing on the Weather Channel, the Disney Channel of weather channels. This is downright BEASTLY weather. The kind of weather, unknown to the rest of America, that could bullwhip a band into calling the whole thing off — that in an instant could have them shouting for backup from a couple of trusted accomplices, send them scrambling for the emergency stash of Federale, see them bolting the hell back into the vehicle, pronto, spark it up, God help us all.
And so it went. As good fortune would have it, the set had already been successfully completed.By the time they found their way to some breakfast carnitas in Gilroy on Friday, I’m told, color had started to return to faces. San Francisco is a friendly town, but only sometimes. The winds can change in a blink — many have perished in the sometimes spiritual wilderness of this place. You can deliver a smoking set here, but outside the wolves will still grin wide and howl their bloody howl from the hills.
Just make sure your strings are tuned tight before you arrive. Be prepared to retune them anyway. And shit yes, of course, it’s best to pack some extra Federale if you’ve got it on hand.The Hawks, bless ’em, they know all this. And they’ll be back.