Showing posts with label The Band. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Band. Show all posts

Jun 11, 2021

A Conversation with Adam Greuel of The High Hawks

Photo by Ty Helbach

By Kevin Broughton

The word “supergroup” gets overused to describe side musical projects, but it's apt and well-earned when it comes to The High Hawks. 

With nearly 150 years of collective touring and playing between them, Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth, Blue Sparks From Hell), Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans), Adam Greuel (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades), Brian Adams (DeadPhish Orchestra) and Will Trask (Great American Taxi) have maintained a generation-spanning presence at the forefront of the roots music scene for over two decades.

What’s striking about this collaboration’s first, self-titled LP is that it bears little – if any – resemblance to what fans of the foregoing bands are used to hearing. There is some serious, cosmically inspired symbiosis afoot. 

Indeed, the baker's dozen of songs – released today -- that make up their debut have the strong identity and cohesiveness of a band three records in to their career. The summery, fiddle-infused opener, “Singing a Mountain Song,” with its self-referential line – “Soaring like a high hawk across this mountain top,” -– acts as a kind of mission statement for the whole collection. There's a lot of good feeling and optimism in these grooves, from the celestial cowboy vibe of “White Rider” and the revved-up Cash rockabilly of “Bad, Bad Man” to the catchy, sauntering “Do Si Do,” which sounds like a great lost Grateful Dead track. Then there’s the spare, emotional cover of Woody Guthrie's “Fly High,” and “Just Another Stone,” a moving ode to love's redemptive power. Throughout, the creative hand-offs between four songwriters and four distinct singers all come together to channel influences from bluegrass to folk to reggae to cosmic Americana, into a singular, appealing voice.

That unity, though, comes not from a shared musical vision or taste, but genuine affection for one another. These are guys who just wanted to hang out and jam, but before they knew it, this side project had become a thing. 

We caught up with singer/guitarist Adam Greuel (Horseshoes and Hand Grenades) on his way to the trout stream, and it kept coming up, again and again: He is positively joyful at what the High Hawks – even early on – have become. We were also able to tip him off to an alt-country classic.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades – taking into account all the genre-bending that goes on in Americana – can fairly be called a bluegrass/jam band. None of your songs on this record could fairly be put into that category, and I don’t hear a bunch of Leftover Salmon influence either, for that matter. Was this album a chance to if not step out of your comfort zone, at least spread your wings a little?

Yeah. You know, with the High Hawks – one of the cool things about this band – we came together without any inkling of what the band might sound like. We really enjoy each other’s company and playing together and making this record was really just a way to spend more time together. And I think when we get along together as humans, as friends, that translates well to making good music. 

And sure enough, we got together and there was that musical openness to a degree that the songs played the band, so to speak. When you’re all open-minded about where the music can go, it allows all of our collective influences into the melting pot and produce a creative sound. So, the open-ended nature of the High Hawks was probably a breath of fresh air for us all. 

Speaking of influences, I’ll go out on a limb and guess y’all are all fans of The Band? I mean, Vince is channeling Levon from beyond the grave on “Goodnight Irene,” so should I assume they’re a common thread that runs throughout y’all’s eclectic tastes and influences? 

Yeah, without a doubt. In the modern-day, greater Americana/bluegrass/rock ‘n’ roll genre, how could you not be influenced by the likes of The Band? The similarity, I think, that I see most distinctly between the High Hawks and The Band is the influences. A lot of the sources of inspiration for The Band are there for all of us. Another big similarity is that there’s a plethora of different songwriters and singers. And that’s a big part of who we are. 

By Jake Cudek
The term “supergroup” is probably pretentious, and “side project” is kind of ho-hum. If Golden Smog was a supergroup, I’d say The High Hawks qualify. Have y’all figured out how to describe this collaboration? 

It’s a band. (Laughs) And you know… “supergroup” or whatever, we came together because we all liked one another and formed a band. It’s raw and it’s natural. We got together at Vince’s – he lives up in the Colorado mountains – and man, we booked a run of shows in Colorado and a run of shows in the Midwest before we had ever played a note together. 


Yeah! That’s how the High Hawks took flight and found an identity. It created a really unique experience, knowing we all wanted to be in the same room together. What came out was really natural. 

We’re seeing albums now that were stacked up and in the can during the pandemic; when and where did y’all record this one?

We recorded at The Silo in Denver, and it was basically in the beginning days of the pandemic. It was January, right before everything got weird. As far as the pandemic itself, I don’t know that it had a huge impact on the release of this record. It did give us some time to think about how we wanted to do it. And we had the time to go back and do some real, quality mixing and mastering. 

People called the pandemic “the great pause,” and it gave us a chance to reflect. “How do we feel about this thing,” you know? It gave us the time to know that we were releasing an album we could be proud of, because we put our heart and soul behind it. 

It sounds like the recording process was pretty organic. Did y’all record most of this stuff live? 

Yeah, we recorded all of it live. And that was natural and a lot of fun. It’s rare that I want to listen to an album I’ve made, once the mixing is done. You’ve heard all the material so many times you think, “Okay, well that was good,” and you feel like you’ve done a good job and never listen again. But this High Hawks album – partly because of the diverse songwriters – I find myself listening a lot because I just like it! It sounds fun and takes you on a really cool ride. 

But the recording process itself…Will, the drummer, and I are the younger fellas in the band; I’m 30 right now. And I’ve been listening to Tim and Vince and Chad since I was in high school. And to be in a band like this where I can truly learn from some people who have already influenced my musical understanding is really a joy and a pleasure, and I’m really grateful for that experience. And the fact that there’s such a large age difference puts a cool spin on The High Hawks, too. Because there are differences there, but there are also similarities. And I found that my attitudes toward music can be challenged by Tim or Vince in the studio. At times, there attitudes can be challenged by mine. And when respect and love are present. It can be a really cool thing. 

I’d like to ask you about a couple of your songs. “Home Is” sounds like something straight off the Jayhawks’ Hollywood Town Hall. Tell me about that tune. 

Well…I’ve never heard that album. I’ll look forward to listening to it.

Oh, my Lord! It’s the Jayhawks’ third album, from around 1992. Just a fantastic record.

Wow, man. I’m gonna dig into that one. Thanks for the tip! But yeah, the song “Home Is” is really influenced by some of those (Robert) Hunter/(Jerry) Garcia ballads…

Okay, yeah. I can totally make that connection now.

Yeah. You know, I play in a high-energy string band, so sometimes at home I find myself clinging to classical music, or maybe some slow-moving ballads. Songs like “Days Between” or “China Doll.” I have a friend named Peter Kahn, who’s a poet and lyricist down in Milwaukee. We went to college together, and we’re really close friends. He and I wrote that song together, and often times, I can put together these songs and relate them to his life and his experiences. And those shared experiences tie us together, really without even talking about them. There’s just a connection. 

So, I took that song to The High Hawks, and the first time we played it, I thought, “I could not be happier with the way this sounds.” 

That’s so awesome.

Yeah! It’s just such a cool thing. The Universe has these confirming moments, you know? When you’re on the right path, the Universe can give you a little nod, and you’re like, “Yep! Keep on going!” And I’ve often felt that with The High Hawks. 

Like you walked into a studio to cut that song, and there was a great band waiting for you.

For sure. And I know that’s the case with all the fellas. These songs just came to life. You know, Tim Carbone – who plays with Railroad Earth – he doesn’t really sing, and they don’t play many of his originals. He’s an incredible songwriter! There are a couple of his songs [“Just Another Stone” and “Blue Earth”] on the album that are really phenomenal. And the same with Chad and Vince: just some really cool songs. And it’s awesome to see all these songs come to life – like I said earlier – through that High Hawks filter.

Now that I think about it, “Trying To Get By” is a little Jayhawk-y, too. But between it and “Heroes and Highways,” it seems that finding one’s way is a theme in your writing, at least on this album.

Yeah, I suppose so. We’re all evolving beings. Some things stay the same, but I have a hard time believing any of us really remain exactly who we were; we change every moment with experience. I think we’re all trying to find our way, trying to be the best person we can be for the world around us. And some time we find these sorts of…spirit guides, I guess, and we’re really lucky when that happens. Sometimes it can feel as if the Universe guides us to a group of people when we need them most. 

And I think that’s the case with all of us in The High Hawks: We all needed this band in one way or another. And that’s part of the magic. It’s gratitude for the Universe bringing us together. And hopefully for the people who hear it, they’ll get the little cosmic nudge they need.  

I’m going to rephrase my final question because the course of our conversation has mandated it. This album isn’t a one-off, is it?

(Pauses) I do not believe so. 


Nah, not a chance these boys are done. This album is so good, you’ll wait impatiently for the next one. 

The High Hawks is out today on LoHi Records and everywhere else you might consume music.

Apr 4, 2019

Video Premiere / Jackie Greene / "Tupelo"

Today we’re debuting the new video for “Tupelo,” from Jackie Greene’s 2017 EP The Modern Lives Vol. 1. It’s also the lead track from his new Live From Town Hall album. The video features the animation of Bill Plympton, long known for his work on MTV’s Liquid Television, Kane West’s “Heard ‘em Say” video, and his own Oscar-nominated short, Your Face

“Tupelo” is a bluesy, ambling Americana tune with lots of soul. It starts simply with a bass and drums before adding piano, banjo, and Greene’s friendly vocals. This tale of regret about being drawn in by the siren song of Tupelo’s seedy side even strolls into spiritual territory (on the live version), venturing through “Wade in the Water” towards the end. Give it a listen and check out more information about Jackie and The Modern Lives Vol. 1 after the video. RIYL: Justin Townes Earle, The Band, The Black Crowes’ gentler moments. 

From Jackie: "It was such a joy to work on this project with Bill.  He’s a crazy genius and I love crazy geniuses.  This is a song that I originally wrote as a piano song, but it morphed into a banjo song.  How it got there is a tale for another time.  For now, enjoy the video!"

Jackie Greene - The Modern Lives Vol. 1

Hailed as "the Prince of Americana" by the New York Times, Jackie Greene has emerged as one of his generation’s most compelling songwriters and guitarists, the kind of rare and supremely versatile artist who blends virtuosity and emotional depth in equal measure. Greene’s latest release, 'The Modern Lives – Vol 1,' finds him relocated from the Bay Area to a Brooklyn basement, where he recorded every single instrument himself in addition to serving as his own engineer and producer. Gritty and rollicking, the songs are as exuberant as they are incisive, drawing inspiration from some of the great social paradoxes of our time: that the technology designed to simplify our lives can actually complicate them in ways we'd never imagined, that the most crowded cities can actually be the loneliest places to live, that the networks meant to connect us to can actually leave us feeling more isolated than ever before.

Greene's been chasing a sense of authentic human connection through art ever since his teenage years, when he began self-recording and releasing his own music in central California. After a critically acclaimed independent debut, he signed his first record deal and embarked on a lifetime of recording and touring that would see him supporting the likes of BB King, Mark Knopfler, Susan Tedeschi, and Taj Mahal, in addition to gracing festival stages from Bonnaroo to Outside Lands. The New York Times praised his "spiritual balladry," Bob Weir anointed him the "cowboy poet" of Americana and blues, and the San Francisco Chronicle raved that he has "a natural and intuitive connection with… just about any musical instrument."

While Greene's songwriting chops were more than enough to place him in a league of his own (NPR's World Café raved that his "sound seems at once achingly intimate, surprisingly energetic and unburdened by adherence to genre"), Greene also emerged as a singular singer and guitarist, prompting Rolling Stone to praise his "honeyed tenor" and name him among "the most notable guitarists from the next generation of six-string legends." Between studio albums and his own tours, Greene took up prestigious gigs playing with Phil Lesh & Friends, The Black Crowes, Levon Helm, and Trigger Hippy, his supergroup with Joan Osborne.

May 3, 2016

Album Review: Hollis Brown - Cluster of Pearls

A Review by Robert Dean

Many times when I hear the label “Americana” thrown around, I cringe. It’s become such a catch-all phrase, a hodge-podge of styles trying to describe one common ground: the lack of one element that’s rock or blues or country.

But, when I hear about bands doing the Americana thing from places like New York, I tend to get extra skeptical. While New York has churned out some of the best bands in history – down home blues is Chicago’s thing, and what does city slicker New York know about the country or the artist's struggle in a day where rent can financially ruin you? A lot apparently.

On Hollis Brown’s recent Record Store Day release, Cluster of Pearls, we’re witnessing a band figuring out their sound and getting the flavor just right. Even if it comes wearing a Yankees hat and likes bagels and lox instead of biscuits and gravy.

Hollis Brown capture a vibe on Cluster of Pearls that sounds like it coulda been brewed down in Muscle Shoals, with beers and smoke in hand.

I’ll admit, I went, and YouTube searched Hollis Brown’s music before this review and was middle of the road on some songs for their reliance to trying to be too poppy, maybe a little too much like a Jason Mraz with dark soul or something you’d hear in Target. I dunno. I also think dipping grilled cheese into ketchup is delicious, so whatever.

On Cluster of Pearls, the music feels different. It seems focused, maybe evolved. And apparently, after some Internet snooping, Cluster of Pearls is a collection of B-side tracks, which is nuts. This collection feels like a nod to The Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers and even some moments of The Stones in the Exile on Mainstreet era.  And if anyone’s got something to say aboutt Graham Parsons, they can just fuck right off.

The record’s opener, "Completed Fool" sounds like a funky, bluesy Hall and Oates take on Maneater, except not shitty. (Sorry 80’s dorks. I hate Yacht Rock.)
The last track, "Miracle" gives off a City and Colour vibe that’s a nice change of pace for the overall composure of the record. There are a lot of shades of Hollis Brown on the record, and it’s rad to see the different shades of their musical personalities shine through.

"Don’t Want To Miss You" is easily the best song on the record. It’s a classic bar room bummer, and it’s done so well. With its lonely beer bravado, it paints the immediate picture of a candle lit dive with too few patrons and a bored bartender wiping glasses to pass the time. Nothing’s on tv and no one’s watching anything but the world pass by. And at the end, there you are – staring into your drink with no one around to complain to. Just you and the whiskey staring back, testing you. That’s what "Don’t Want To Miss You" feels like.

There’s a little bit of everything on Cluster of Pearls, with nods to riffs straight off a Black Keys record, and harmonious melodies that a focused and together ala – you guessed it, The Band. Naturally, when hearing the jangly, foot-stomping riffs of Hollis Brown, I imagine playing shows with bands like Quiet Hollers, or Brian Fallon.

If this is any indication of Hollis Brown’s path to follow, the results will be exciting to behold. I’ll even forgive them for wearing cowboy hats in New York.

You can only get Cluster of Pearls in record stores, if they have any left in stock, or eBay etc.

However, you can get Hollis Brown albums here
or Amazon, etc.

Sep 15, 2014

An Americana Christmas from New West

Another copy and paste email (and no, I don't get paid or even a free copy for this), but this looks great!


LOS ANGELES, CA, September 15, 2014 - An Americana Christmas, out on CD, vinyl and digital October 14 on New West Records, brings together some of the biggest icons and current stars in Americana music for a wide-ranging collection of classic Christmas songs and brand new holiday recordings. The 16-track album features legendary artists Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, The Band, John Prine, Dwight Yoakam and Ben Keith w/ Neil & Pegi Young alongside many of the genre's current younger talents like Valerie June, Nikki Lane, Robert Ellis, Luther Dickinson and the Old 97's. The album was announced today on Rolling Stone Country along with a premiere of New York-based Texas-bred troubadour Robert Ellis' stirring and modern rendition of Willie Nelson's classic, "Pretty Paper." 

The compilation compiles previously released material with six brand new recordings exclusive to the album. In addition to Ellis' offering, Memphis songstress Valerie June puts her rollicking spin on season staple, "Winter Wonderland," Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars injects "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" with some southern boogie and groove, rising Nashville chanteuse Nikki Lane offers an upbeat, retro-tinged original, Canadian roots music star Corb Lund turns in the sweeping and weeping new tune, "Just Me And These Ponies (For Christmas This Year)" and Dutch duo The Common Linnets contributes the new song, "At Christmas Time." The lone European act, The Common Linnets are one of Europe's biggest Americana bands and have sold more than 150,000 copies of their debut release and took second place in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.

An Americana Christmas is for anyone who appreciates great songwriting and timeless music delivered from the heart and will appeal to several generations making it a perfect addition to your holidays.

1 Luther Dickinson - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
2 John Prine - Everything Is Cool *
3 Robert Ellis - Pretty Paper
4 Emmylou Harris - The First Noel
5 Johnny Cash - The Gifts They Gave
6 Corb Lund - Just Me And These Ponies (For Christmas This Year)
7 Dwight Yoakam - Run Run Rudolph *
8 Bob Dylan - Must Be Santa
9 Valerie June - Winter Wonderland
10 Ronnie Fauss - Everybody Deserves A Merry Christmas *
11 Max Gomez - Season Of My Memory
12 Ben Keith w/ Neil & Pegi Young - Les Trois Cloches
13 The Common Linnets - At Christmas Time
14 Nikki Lane - Falalaalove Ya
15 Old 97's - Here It Is Christmas Time
16 The Band - Christmas Must Be Tonight

*Not on vinyl release


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