FREE Subscription - For more information
FREE Subscription - For more information CLICK HERE
The Nighthawks – Damn Good Time
12 tracks; 42.10 minutes
As I set out to listen to the new Nighthawks CD it occurred to me that I have never actually heard one of their records before, so I approached this CD much as I would a debutant band. However, the band has been around since the early 70s and Jimmy Thackery is a well-known former member. Only harp player Mark Wenner remains from the original incarnation though guitarist Paul Bell and bassist Johnny Castle have both put in more than a decade. The newcomer is drummer Mark Stutso who, by circular coincidence, used to drum for… Jimmy Thackery! All of the guys sing and all do a good job. The material is a mixture of classics revisited and originals from within the band and from friends. Mark Stutso contributes four songs, three in collaboration with Norman Nardini. His fourth credit is on a tune composed with bassist Johnny Castle and Aaron Moreland; Castle also contributes one tune himself. Covers include songs made famous by Elvis, Canned Heat and Nat King Cole. This is the band’s first release on Severn and was recorded at the label’s HQ in Annapolis, MD, co-produced by Severn boss David Earl.
Mark Wenner’s harp is the main featured instrument and the template is set out straight away on the opener “Too Much” which Elvis once sang. A driving rhythm and highlight harp are enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. “Who You’re Workin’ For” comes from Billy Price and Glenn Pavone and is an up-tempo rocker with more strong harp. Title track “Damn Good Time” is the collaboration with Aaron Moreland and it is a mid-paced tune with a touch of soul in the arrangement. Johnny Castle’s “Bring Your Sister” brings in a touch of country rock on a really catchy foot-tapper with a twangy guitar solo from Paul Bell.
Me”, a 1957 hit for Nat King Cole, provides a slow, late night feel with
nice guitar embellishments and gentle harp. “Minimum Wage” is the first
of three Mark Stutso/Norman Nardini songs, mid-paced with more strong
harp and harmonies. “Georgia Slop” is a well-known Jimmy McCracklin tune
and has been covered many times and is always fun to hear with the tales
of Peg Leg Lee’s bar where the dance is apparently demonstrated! “Night
Work” reminded me a lot of Jimmy Thackery in terms of the vocal and
So, my first Nighthawks experience was a good one. There is variety of pace here though with just the basic quartet there is not as much variety of sound as you might get if there were a wider range of instruments. I imagine that fans of the band will lap up this new effort and their debut on the LRBC next fall should win them some more fans for their feel-good roadhouse style of music.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in April.