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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label 444. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 444. Show all posts

Monday, June 16, 2014

Eller Soul Records artist: The Nighthawks - 444 - New Release review

I just received the newest release (June 17, 2014), 444, from the Nighthawks and it's a lot of fun. Opening with the Du Droppers' Walk That Walk, the Nighthawks are really swinging with really nicely blended vocal harmonies and super harp work from Mark Wenner. On Livin' the Blues, a traditional 12 bar with a casual lope to it, vocal harmonies are again a key part of the track. Wenner again lays down some nice harp riffs joined by Paul Bell on vocal and guitar, Johnny Castle on bass and vocal and Mark Stutso on drums and vocal. Title track 444 A.M. is a real rocker with flaming guitar riffs from Bell pulling out some really cool rockin solos. You're gone has a twist of country and a radio style arrangement. Honky Tonk Queen continues along with a country flavor and an even stronger radio presence. Got A Lot of Livin' has strong Rockabilly roots with cooking bass work by Castle and crisp riffs from Bell. Authentic roots style vocals punctuate the track. Crawfish has a swampy feel with a repetitive guitar chime and tom tom work. Wenner echo's the vocals nicely on harp. Price Of Love has a stomp to it with nice over driven slide work. The most straight forward blues rocker so far, gives Bell a lot of room to slide and Wenner plays back a nice compliment for each hot riff from Bell. High Snakes is possibly the coolest track on the release with a slow tex/mex rhythm and creative writing. Bell plays subtle but sensuous guitar riffs on this track and Wenner compliments him well. Very nice. Nothin' But The Blues gets into a solid blues groove. The lead vocals are really super on this track and Bell takes a really nice guitar ride on this track. Wenner also steps up with icing for a nice cake. No Secrets is a more prominent blues rocker with Stutso leading the way on drums. Bell cuts it loose again on slide and this track simmers on white hot sliding action. Wenner knows how to work the harp and does a really nice job on this track. On Morganfield's Louisiana Blues, the band is just a few steps from stripped down with fairly raw acoustic guitar and harp. Wrapping the release with Roadside Cross the band is joined by Akira Otsuka on mandolin. A quiet acoustic ballad this is a nice close to a nicely done release.  

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Could not find a clip from this release but this is the Nighthawks:

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Nighthawks Are Back with a New CD, "444," on a New Label, EllerSoul Records, Coming June 17

The Nighthawks Are Back with a New CD, 444, on a New Label, EllerSoul Records, Coming June 17

In their Fifth Decade, America’s Seminal American Roots Music Band Remains Vibrant & a Must-See Live Performance Group

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s favorite roots music band, The Nighthawks, announce a June 17 release date for their latest album, 444, on EllerSoul Records, their label debut. Produced by the band and recorded at Montrose Studio in Richmond, Virginia, 444 is jam-packed with 13 tracks of blues, soul, rock ‘n’ roll and roadhouse country music – all given the trademark Nighthawks combination of talent, passion, energy and showmanship that has made the Blues Music Award winners a truly one-of-a-kind live listening experience, conveniently packaged on disc and ready to take home to enjoy.

Now in their fifth decade of recording and live performing, the 21st century Nighthawks are a tight, cohesive unit – the kind that comes only from years and miles. Guitarist Paul Bell and bassist Johnny Castle have been in the band for more than a decade; drummer Mark Stutso, the “new kid,” is starting his fifth year; and singer/harmonica player Mark Wenner is counting 40-plus. The nightly consensus from fans is that this version of The Nighthawks is the best ever. The concept that was mapped out in the liner notes of their 1974 debut recording, Rock and Roll, has grown into a powerful expression of the American musical tradition.
444 draws from the deep roots the band has always mined: an organic mix of originals and classic cover tunes. Some are well known, like Muddy Waters’ “Louisiana Blues,” and some more obscure, like the Du Droppers’ “Walk That Walk.” But they all blend to make a rich American stew. “Honky Tonk Queen,” a Wenner original that sounds as if it could have come from an old Rolling Stones’ session outtake; “No Secrets,” (another Wenner song) and “Price of Love” (written by The Everly Brothers) are previously recorded Nighthawks songs presented here with new depth and breadth. “The King” is well-represented on the new disc, as well. Two early Elvis Presley movie numbers -- “Got a Lot of Livin’” the final song in his 1957 film, Lovin’ You (which Elvis sings out in the audience that includes his mother Gladys) and “Crawfish,” which opens his 1958 movie, King Creole -- date from the magic period in the 1950s when Mark Wenner was most under the spell of the radical new star.

Johnny Castle contributes three originals to 444, including the hard-charging “444 A.M.” that gives the new CD its title. “High Snakes,” a swampy, haunting cry of lost love, was written and recorded by Johnny and his former DC-cohort, guitarist Bill Kirchen. Johnny’s lovely “Roadside Cross,” is unusual for The Nighthawks and gives the otherwise rockin' CD a gentle and beautiful finish. It also features the only guest appearance on the album, the delicate mandolin part by Akira Otsuka, a pal of Johnny’s from his bluegrass days.

Mark Stutso borrowed a bluegrass original from his brother-in-law and turned it into a Texas funk groove in “You're Gone.” For “Nothin' but the Blues,” he drew on his friendship with Grammy-winner Gary Nicholson. The band had learned “Livin' the Blues” backing up on a tour with Tracy Nelson, who co-wrote it with Gary. Mark Wenner takes the lead vocal on the “Hawks version, with just one little word change.

As always, the essential flavors and textures of this rich American stew come from the electric and acoustic guitar work of the incomparable Paul Bell, who continues to thrive in his role as lead guitarist, forever expanding his horizons on the instrument with the best of tone and taste.

Almost every Nighthawks recording has featured at least one Muddy Waters tune, and 444 is no exception. This time the band showcases its acoustic version of Muddy's “Louisiana Blues” (staying close to the country blues tone of Muddy’s original version), recalling their Blues Music Award-winning acoustic release, Last Train to Bluesville, and Muddy's live introduction on the band’s Open All Night album. As the legend said that night way back when, “They have a beautiful name. They are THE NIGHTHAWKS.”

The Nighthawks are booked by Blue Mountain artists ( To watch the trailer for their upcoming 2015 documentary film, “The Nighthawks: That Band on the Blue Highway,” directed by Michael Streissguth, click on this link:

For more information on the band, visit


5/7                         The Zoo Bar                                                                                        Lincoln, NE
5/8                         21st Saloon                                                                                          Omaha, NE
5/9                         Uncle Bo’s T-Town Bar – Ramada Inn Downtown              Topeka, KS
5/16                       Bright Box Theatre                                                                          Winchester, VA
5/7                         Poolesville Springfest                                                                     Poolesville, MD
5/29                       34th Annual Herndon Festival                                                      Herndon, VA
5/30                       Ramshead Tavern                                                                            Annapolis, MD
6/7                         National Whitewater Center                                                       Charlotte, NC
6/20                       The Birchmere                                                                                 Alexandria, VA
6/22                       Capital Ale House Music Hall (CD Release – 6pm)               Richmond, VA    .
6/26                       Thunder in the Valley                                                                     Johnstown, PA
6/27                       Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival                                                        Charleston, WV
6/28                       The State Theatre                                                                            Culpepper, VA
7/4                         Evenings on Main                                                                            Luray, VA
7/5                         High Tides on Potomac                                                                  Colonial Beach, VA
7/6                         A Blues Night Out – Bethesda Blues & Jazz                           Bethesda, MD
7/20                       Gilligan’s Pier                                                                                     Newberg, MD
7/26                       Peekskill Rock & Blues Festival                                                   Peekskill, NY