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Music Review: Nighthawks – American Landscape

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The Nighthawks do have the juice to take the Big Boy out.

That’s the tag line from the opening cut on this – the what? 3000th Nighthawks CD? Man, these guys just don’t quit. A bunch of Energizer Bunnies, sucking down Jim Beam and smoke between sets, sometimes during.

One reason I became an occasional drifter, then a regular at The Bayou, a Washington DC nightclub in the Georgetown district, was because of the Nighthawks. I’m not sure if they were the houseband, or if they just played there frequently, but they’re what drew me back on a regular basis. Of course the chicks from Georgetown University, just a few blocks away, had nothing to do with it.

It didn’t matter if it was the snow was ass deep on a ten-foot man, or if it was a typical DC summer night, both the temperature and the humidity just about in the triple-digit range, these guys could be counted on to give you your money’s worth, with some left over. When the Nighthawks played, that club was heaving with people. Walking up to the door you could see it bowing out with each beat of the music.

Well, I’ll tell you this: American Landscape is business as usual. The same, hard-drivin’ blues I heard them play thirty years ago. It’s all covers, but some of them done up in such a way as it’ll take you a moment or two to name it. “Down In The Hole” will always be associated with The Wire, regardless of who plays it, but of course the Nighthawks put their own stamp on it. With Baltimore just a short hop up the road, it’s like downhome music for the Nighthawks. “Try It Baby” was taken from Motown, dragged through the swamps of the South, hightailed through the countryside, then hung up and laid out for your listening pleasure. Even though “Don’t Turn Your Heater Down” is reworked, you can still hear the Chess stamp on it. Two Dylan covers are given good treatment, as are the even dozen cuts on the CD

If you’re having a party, or if you want to spend an unquiet night at home, this is the CD to start it off, and to finish it up. And if you ever get the chance to see these guys live, do whatever it takes to get there.

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About Lou Novacheck