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Richard Guzmán
The Desert Sun
May 13, 2006

California isn’t the first place most country fans turn to for musical inspiration.
But that may soon change, thanks to I See Hawks in L.A., who are helping reveal the Golden State’s hidden country soul.

“California Country,” the Los Angeles-based band’s third release, is a collection of bluegrass-honky-tonk-alternative country with a distinctly Socal vibe.

Jointly influenced by country legends such as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, and the psychedelic sound of The Byrds, I See Hawks in L.A. are set to perform at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown – their home away from home – Saturday night.

“We have a great time out there, it’s a blast,” said Hawks lead singer Rob Waller.

“It (Pappy and Harriets) really fits in great (with our sound). A lot of L.A. artists are inspired by the high desert,” he said.

The Hawks are among the best established country rock bands in California, with a weekly spot at Coles Bar in downtown L.A., regular gigs at the The House of Blues in Hollywood, as well as The Cinema Bar in Culver City.

The band also earned the L.A. Weekly’s Best Country Artist awards in 2002 and 2003.

Saturday will be the seventh show for the Hawks at Pappy’s.

“The country rock scene is great here in L.A.,” Waller said.
“There’s a wide range of fans from the generation of The Byrds and The Grateful Dead to hippie folks, pure country fans and college kids,” he said.

The opening tune on the Hawks’ latest album, “Motorcycle Mama,” is not a cover of the Neil Young staple, but a hole-in-the-wall, jukebox original, plush with twangy guitars and tragic lyrics like “I tried to ride with the motorcycle mama but the motorcycle let me down.”

The Hawks also mock L.A. pop-culture with songs like “Slash from Guns ‘N’ Roses.”

“That song came out of a conversation where we asked ourselves what would happen if Slash ran into an impersonator,” Waller said.

“Barrier Reef” pays homage to another L.A. hippie cultural icon, cannabis.

Fiddler Brantley Kearns and banjo player Cody Bryant add country credibility to the Hawks’ very-L.A. sound.

And although the band feels most at home playing honky-tonk tunes at honky-tonk havens like Pappy’s, Waller said he also sees the sound and feel of their alternative country hitting bigger crowds.

“We would play anywhere we have songs people seem to like,” he says.

“We’re a regional country band with global aspirations.”