Young People Playing (Very) Old Music, Part Two

 Hilary Hawke and band, Knoxville Visitor’s Center, January 2010

The second artist I heard recently at the Blue Plate Special was Hilary Hawke. She and her band are from upstate New York and their sound is more western swing, with close harmonies and mid-tempo rhythms. Of course, her lilting voice soars above it all. She also plays a very nice banjo. Red Hickey (host of the Blue Plate) asked her how she came to the banjo living in New York. She pointed out that the Adirondacks are far removed from the city and said she grew up listening to old country music and particularly mentioned being a fan of Earl Scruggs.

Hilary Hawke, Knoxville Visitor’s Center, January 2010

Even with the western swing sound and a frequent banjo solo there was still an alt-twist. The band members certainly looked as if they could be in an alternative band and there was more to it than that, perhaps an undercurrent of intensity as a slight counterpoint to the bounce of the music. More so than Woody Pines, there seemed to be a slight modern edge to this music, though on the surface it remained very traditional.

The vocals are also a bit more quirky than Bob Wills would have expected. Hilary’s charm and personality shine through in every song and that combined with her songwriting talent should serve her very well as her career progresses. There was a little something that reminded me of Hot Club of Cowtown.

Hilary Hawke, Knoxville Visitor’s Center, January 2010

She and everyone in the band were exceptionally friendly and warm with anyone who wanted to talk with them. I regret that they hit town during snowy weather and had such a small audience. They invited me to their show at the Preservation Pub that started at 11:00 on a work night! Maybe when I was younger.

You can hear a few of their songs on their MySpace page. You can buy Hilary’s solo album Goodwill by following that link. The latest by the band is available on their website (first link above). I’ll leave you with a video for your viewing and listening pleasure. Check them out.

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