Monday, November 7, 2011



ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records announces the signing of seminal American roots music band The Nighthawks, who’ve already recorded their first album for the label, with an expected release date in the first quarter of 2012. The two Washington, DC-area based entities unite at a very special time in their history. Severn Records was just announced as the recipient of the 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Record Label from the Blues Foundation; and The Nighthawks are coming off their first-ever Blues Music Award (also from the Blues Foundation) -  Acoustic Blues Album of the Year - for their Last Train to Bluesville CD, presented in Memphis this past May.

The Nighthawks are: Mark Wenner - vocals, harmonica; Johnny Castle - vocals, bass; Paul Bell – guitar; and Mark Stutso - drums, vocals. Always known as one of the hardest working bands in the business, The Nighthawks continue to tour extensively and have several shows lined up featuring the band and their special guest, legendary singer Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth). The Nighthawks and Tracy Nelson shows are set for December 1 – Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis; December 2 – Blues Alley in Washington, DC; and December 4 - Shenanigans in Richmond, Virginia.

The Nighthawks’ still-untitled debut release for Severn Records was recorded at the label’s new state-of-the-art studios in Annapolis and features quite a bit of original material. Bassist Johnny Castle contributes a new tune and also sings on a version of Jimmy McCracklin’s “Georgia Slop;” while most-recent band member, drummer Mark Stutso, does four originals, demonstrating the added talent he brings to the band as a songwriter and additional singer. Other tracks reportedly cut include one Billy Price original, plus the classic “Smack Dab in the Middle” and Nat King Cole’s “Send for Me.”   

In addition to the band’s stellar catalogue of acclaimed albums released since 1974, The Nighthawks have long enjoyed wonderful touring and recording relationships with some of the best and brightest names in roots and blues music. On their 1978 release, Jacks and Kings, they backed up such blues all-stars as Pinetop Perkins, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Calvin Jones and Bob Margolin; and backed up John Hammond on his Hot Tracks album. The Nighthawks have toured with John Hammond, as well as John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Tracy Nelson and Eddie Hinton; and also played with such national treasures as Muddy Waters and Carl Perkins. Over the years, several other star artists have literally become de-facto “members” of the band at various times, including Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes and Bob Margolin.   

Recorded live at the Washington studios of Sirius XM Satellite Radio, the band’s last CD, Last Train to Bluesville, was a departure of sorts from their previous efforts. Stripped down and acoustic, Last Train to Bluesville resonated with music fans and the media alike with its honesty, passion and soul. The album features down-home versions of 10 blues classics from such artists as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Slim Harpo, Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson and James Brown, among others. Recorded with the intimate feeling of a back-porch setting, Last Train to Bluesville bristles with all the energy of a live gig and the world-class performances Nighthawks fans from around the world have come to expect.        

In its review of the CD, The Washington Post declared, “If there were ever a question about how the Nighthawks keep their blues-rock sound fresh after nearly 40 years together, Last Train to Bluesville gives the answer…the new acoustic setting really suits the group. The crisp recording draws the group’s instrumentation into the spotlight…a recording that stands out in the band’s lengthy discography.”

International blues magazine Blues Revue said, “While these songs have been staples of The Nighthawks set list for decades, the sparkling acoustic arrangements provide them, and the band, with a new lease on life…accurately captures the dynamics of one of roots music’s long lasting, dependable and often unsung outfits. Long may they fly.”

Blues Blast Magazine called it “Ten tracks of incredible acoustic blues, all the more impressive given that it was recorded as a live session in the studio rather than pieced together of tracks and parts. The crystal clear recording would showcase any flaws – instead what comes through is a tight, professional acoustic set that truly showcases The Nighthawks’ musicianship.”

And the Blog Critics website summed up its review by stating, “…this is a superb document of the intuitive interplay between seasoned veterans who still find sheer, unbridled joy in making music together. It simply doesn’t get much better than this!”

11/10                The Bamboo Room                               Lake Worth, FL           
11/11                Mojo Kitchen                                        Jacksonville Beach, FL
11/12                Dunedin Wines the Blues                       Dunedin, FL
11/13                Chef John’s Bistro & Blues                   Jupiter, FL
11/15                Paradise Bar & Grill                              Pensacola, FL  
11/16                Paradise Bar & Grill                              Pensacola, FL  
11/18                Blind Willie’s                                         Atlanta, GA
11/19                The Ellington                                         Lynchburg, VA
11/25                The State Theatre                                 Falls Church, VA
11/26                The Globe                                             Berlin, MD
12/1                  Rams Head Tavern                               Annapolis, MD *
12/2                  Blues Alley                                           Washington, DC *
12/4                  Shenanigans                                          Richmond, VA *
12/9                  Bourbon St. Blues & Boogie                  Nashville, TN
12/10                Blues Ball                                             Birmingham, AL
12/11                Huey’s Midtown                                   Memphis, TN
* The Nighthawks with special guest Tracy Nelson
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