FAME Review: The Nighthawks - Damn Good Time
The Nighthawks - Damn Good Time

Damn Good Time

The Nighthawks

Severn Records - Severn CD 0056

Available from The Nighthawks' online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The 'Hawks are back, signed with a label I suspect will do a lot more for them (Severn) than has previously been the case. Damn Good Time is, in fact, kind of a turning point in more ways than one. One thing becomes very clear as the disc proceeds: these guys have forever been a second-line band when in fact they're way the hell better than many first-liners, Status Quo perhaps the best case in point. How that latter half-ass band ever garnered the acclaim they have, not to mention the exposure and all, is so beyond my poor brain that I had to have aluminum fins installed athwart my ears in order to keep overheating from occurring, cerebellular matter too soon dripping from burning ears and indignated lobes.

Bring Your Sister has an old Steve Miller Band sound to it—and, God, but no one has quite equaled that old vibe!—and Damn Good Time as a whole lies in a distinctly boogie blues milieu that incorporates details of NRBQ, ZZ Top, Dr. John, Roy Buchanan, and others within the long term Nighthawks own wont. There's much more a folk flavor here than delta, an East Coast Carolina / Appalachians / Nashville framework instead of Chicago, L'awsiana, or Tejas. Like a bunch of other really good present and past indie bands—Jim Suhler & Monkeybeat, Juke Jumpers, etc.—the 'Hawks have a distinctive sound resting between niches and thus never growing old. Listen to Georgia Slop and see if you can categorize it. Ya can't, it's familiar in several ways, never just one, and never so's ya can drive a nail through and keep the sound posted to the barn sidewall.

Mark Wenner's harmonica work is more steeped than ever and extremely well documented, taking the place of the traditional electric guitar's lead lines here. Like the late Gary Primich, he's not being accorded the mainstream respect he deserves. Not sure which of these guys is singing in Night Work and elsewhere but the cat's getting very close to Omar Kent Dykes territory (and the cut's quite Omar & The Howlers-esque, dripping with midnight grit). I have only one minor complaint: Paul Bell's a very good guitarist, and I sure could stand more leads from the guy, Who You're Working For great proof of that. Nevertheless, this is as good as anything the band's ever done and portends even better 'cause there's an extra something present. Can't quite figger what it is, but it's definitely tied in to the new label and their long road in the blues.

Track List:

  • Too Much (Rosenberg / Weinman)
  • Who You're Working Forn (Price / Pavone)
  • Damn Good Time (Moreland / Castle / Stutso / King)
  • Bring your Sister (Johnny Castle)
  • Send for Me (Ollie Jones)
  • Minimum Wage (Nardini / Stutso)
  • Georia Slop (Jimmy McCracklin)
  • Night Work (Sweeney)
  • Let's Work Together (Wilbur Harrison)
  • Smack Dab in the Middle (Chuck Calhoun) (actually: Jesse Stone under pseudonym)
  • Down to my Last Million Tears (Nardini / Stutso)
  • Heartbreak Shake (Nardini / Stutso)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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