The Nighthawks review…June 17, 2014…

THE NIGHTHAWKS

444

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ELL 1405

WALK THAT WALK–LIVIN ‘ THE BLUES–444 A. M.–YOU’RE GONE–HONKY TONK QUEEN–GOT A LOT OF LIVIN’–CRAWFISH–PRICE OF LOVE–HIGH SNAKES–NOTHIN’ BUT THE BLUES–NO SECRETS–LOUISIANA BLUES–ROADSIDE CROSS

The last time we saw The Nighthawks, we were shaking hands with them.  Yep, their table was next to ours at the 2011 Blues Music Awards in Memphis, and we helped to congratulate them on their award for Acoustic Album of the Year, “Last Train To Bluesville.”  Their latest set isn’t all-acoustic, but it does hearken back to the days of Sun Records, with nods to straight blues, rockabilly, and even an Elvis tribute!

Their latest is “444,” and serves as their debut for EllerSoul Records.  These guys have peen performing as a group for some five decades, with harp man and vocalist Mark Wenner logging in more than forty years at their helm.  Paul Bell on guitar and Johnny Castle on bass have more than a decade as members, and drummer Mark Stutso has five years in.  That’s why their sets are so well-received, because everyone gets a vocal turn and gets involved in the total production, making for a truly complete band effort.

The show starts with a cool call-and-response number “Walk That Walk,” with excellent group harmony behind Mark’s vocals.  “Livin The Blues” finds Mark “feelin’ so bad, I don’t want to get better,” while the title cut is stone Sun rockabilly.  “Honky Tonk Queen” is a fine example of roots-rock reminiscent of The Blasters, while the set closes with a “tragedy song,’ of sorts, as the “Roadside Cross” serves as a somber reminder of those whose lives were lost on the highway where the cross sits.

This set has a lot of pure fun, too.  Mark turns in two fine tributes to Elvis and his movies with a rockin’ “Got A Lot Of Livin’ To Do” (from “Loving You”) and a faithfully-quirky read of “Crawfish” (from “King Creole”)  And, there’s nothing quite like catching your lover intertwined with another, and explaining it as just “the blues, the whole blues, and Nothin’ But The Blues!”

Our favorite had a sweet country-blues feel.  Mark’s haunting harp  over Paul’s minimalist guitar lines makes their tribute to Muddy, “Louisiana Blues,” totally satisfying.

As their press release proudly proclaims, “before there was Americana, alt-country, or roots rock, The Nighthawks were already playing it!”  That’s why “444” may be their best set yet!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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