Roadhouse album review: The Nighthawks celebrate 50 hard-rocking years with “Established 1972”

The Nighthawks — “Established 1972” — VizzTone

If The Nighthawks don’t belong in the Roadhouse, I don’t know who does.

This Washington, D.C. band has been bringing its brand of hard-rocking blues and generally house-rocking music for 50 years, and they sound just as tough now as they did a half-century ago.

They’re well-known for their chops as a rugged bar band, with harp-master Mark Wenner up front since the beginning. But they’ve appeared with everyone from Carl Perkins to Muddy Waters, so their sound defies any label beyond great American roots music.

One of the band’s unique qualities is how well the quartet works together. Mark Stutso, drummer; Dan Hovey, guitar; and Paul Pisciotta, bass, all share vocals and kick in their share of words for songwriting on the 14 tracks. The result is a smoothness that comes from years of knowing exactly where each song is going.

This music draws inspiration from everywhere — and it’s always inspired. Hovey’s “Driving” is almost pure acoustic country, his “You Seem Distant” rocks with a message, a cover of Elvis Presley’s version of “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” is tough rockabilly, Stutso created the raucous “Gas Station Chicken,” “Take It Slow” has bluesy Jimmy Reed vibes — and so it goes, with the ‘Hawks soaring on their now almost-timeless tradition of just damn good music.

And they’re still running hard on the road, so if you’re somewhere on the East Coast trail they roam, don’t miss them. If you’re lucky, you might catch them in a sparkling two-fer show with Pittsburgh’s outstanding blue-eyed soul guy, Billy Price.

I’ve been a witness to a bunch of these shows, and I can testify to their unlimited fun power. Can we get some more witnesses?

A brief history of the The Nighthawks

I couldn’t find any video from this album, but here’s a concert video from 2018:

Album Tracklist:
01 – Nobody
02 – You Seem Distant
03 – I’ll Come Running Back To You
04 – Coming And Going
05 – Take It Slow
06 – Johnny Too Bad
07 – Ask Me Nice
08 – West Memphis
09 – Ain’t That Lovin You
10 – Gas Station Chicken
11 – Houseband
12 – Fuss And Fight
13 – Run Red Run
14 – Driving

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