November 17, 2005

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.


Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Interesting record, Dan. The guitar style is completely unfamiliar to me, and I'm digging that weird sound. It has a NOLA vibe, but I can't place it...

12:14 PM, November 17, 2005  
Blogger Todd Lucas said...

Love that guitar. And that organ is indeed odd. In a couple of places it almost reminds me of the organ in "California Sun" of all things. Can't help you identify anything here but I really like the record. Thanks for posting it.

2:13 PM, November 18, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thanks, fellas. I recall that back in the day Hammond (and probably other companies) had some tricked out smaller organs with various sound effects - way before synthesizers. My dad played church organ for years; so I know the big models had all sorts of instrument stops, too. I have been too lazy to do some research on that. But I wonder what was available c. 1962. I'll ask my dad next week. Again, way open to suggestions here on any of this.

And, yes, that guitar playing is unique.

4:09 PM, November 18, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great track, real cool one.

sort of somewhere between mac rebennack's storm warning on rex or his ebb session stuff and travis wammack

7:04 PM, November 18, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:15 AM, October 06, 2006  

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