The Nighthawks — “Slant Six” — VizzTone
That terrifically tough quartet, the Nighthawks, have decided to kick off the second half of their first century of hard-driving blues with approximately half of a new album.
The band celebrated its first 50 years last April, with “Established 1972,” a hard-charging exit from the Covid shutdown that kept alive the “Hawks reputation for scorched-earth roadhouse blues. (Roadhouse review here.)
Their latest, “Slant Six,” is a mini-album, or EP, of six fine blues tracks that leave you wondering what became of the other half.
(Roadhouse Digression: For our younger readers, the EP refers to 45rpm records with two songs on each side, introduced in the U.S. in 1952 by RCA. They made good use of them with their superstar, Elvis Presley, releasing 28 Elvis EPs between 1956 and 1967.)
The six songs on this session are all covers, mostly from a handful of blues giants, that allow the band to deepen it musical roots in the blues.
Guitarist Dan Hovey takes the lead vocal on “Motor Head Baby,” originally recorded by Johnny “Guitar” Watson in 1953 when he called himself “Young John Watson.” Original Nighthawk Mark Wenner scorches through two Muddy Waters chestnuts, “Forty Days and Forty Nights” and “Standing Around Crying,” adding fierce harp solos.
Drummer Mark Stutso gives Little Milton’s “You’re Welcome to the Club” a soulful kick, and then shuffles nicely into NRBQ founder Al Anderson’s “Poor Me.” The album finale, “Don’t Know Where She Went,” pairs Hovey and Stutso with some tough Wenner harp. Bassist Paul Pisciotta doesn’t sing, but pours himself in to the deep end of the ‘Hawks’ rootsy effort.
The hard-working Nighthawks, who make Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour look like w weekend gig, are on the road again with their brand of tough, rootsy blues. Check them out when you can, and see just how tasty well-aged blues can be.
A brief history of the The Nighthawks
Here’s a video of “Don’t Know Where She Went”:
1. Motor Head Baby (John Watson-Mario S. De Lagarde)
2. Forty Days And Forty Nights (Bernard Roth)
3. Standing Around Crying (Muddy Waters)
4. You’re Welcome To The Club (Sonny Thompson)
5. Poor Me (Al Anderson-Bob Di Piero)
6. Don’t Know Where She Went (Robert Willie Egan)