Rockin' With the Night Hawks
"Rockin' Hawk" (Joe Darden)
The Night Hawks, Alon 9001, 1962
“Rockin’ Hawk” b/w “Your Somethin’ Else” was just the second single issued on Alon, which Joe Banashak, owner of Minit, Instant and others, started for Allen Toussaint to run. Neither of the record’s instrumental sides fits well with tracks by Willie Harper and Eldridge Holmes (to name a notable few) that Toussaint was producing for the label at the time, which helps make this recording an anomaly.
While “Rockin’ Hawk” is not my usual HOTG fare, I’ve grown attached to it since I found it this summer. There are not many mainly guitar instrumentals on record from New Orleans from the 1950’s to the late 1960’s, when the Meters let loose. So, it’s an oddity for that reason, too. The tune just sort of put-puts along; but I dig the guitar’s trebly vibrato with a rockabilly edge to it. And what is that cheesy organ effect that starts and runs though the song, even getting a solo? Low in the mix is some rolling New Orleans piano work that just may be Toussaint - or not. Hard to tell. The Night Hawks were a local group put together by guitarist/bassist Earl Stanley, who was in some groups with Ma Rebennack prior to this. Later, Stanley re-formatted the band and renamed them the Stereos, using the group for his work as an independent producer, backing various vocalists and cutting a few instrumentals as well. Most notably, they did the two-part "Pass The Hatchet", on which they called themselves Roger & the Gypsies. It was released on Banashak's Seven-B label a few years later.
There were some great guitarists the city in 1962: Ernest McLean, Edgar Blanchard, Justin Adams, Roy Montrell, Walter “Papoose” Nelson. But I don’t recall any of them playing quite like this. That further helps narrow this single down to an early Stanley project. If you have different information or anything further to add, please shoot me a email or leave a comment.