out of Pittsburgh, Ernie Hawkins just exploded on the blues scene
in a big way this year. These are acoustic blues gems in the style
of his hero Gary Davis. He covers Blind Blake, Skip James, Willie
McTell and Son House and tosses in a few originals that drip with
authenticity. Unquestionably the finest acoustic discs of the year.
Ernie Hawkins is one of the most accomplished and impressive acoustic
guitarists of our time. Hawkins proves why he belongs in the ranks
of the greats. Where others have met the challenge with less than
spectacular results, Hawkins is confidently competent throughout
-- which is to say, he's just amazing. Whew!
is a man of impeccable taste, and his world weary vocals are perfectly
suited to the song. The more discerning listener who appreciates
fingerpicking guitar will definitely want to check out "Bluesified."
It is a fine album, and at a time when there seems to be an increasing
number of acoustic blues guitarists, Ernie Hawkins deserves to be
right up there with the pick of them. "Bluesified" is
well worth tracking down.
isnt anything better to cure your soul than this kind of blues.
All the songs are little treasures. Acoustic country blues doesnt
get much better than this.
learned his acoustic guitar work from the recordings of Blind Willie
McTell and at the feet of Rev. Gary Davis. Though Ernie Hawkins
is an unfamiliar name to many blues fans, his music and over 30
years of dedication is a life commitment to be acknowledged. Hawkins
expertly follows a fingerpicking journey from Piedmont styles to
the ragtime traditions that were popular in the Middle Atlantic
States during the '20's and '30's. It's no coincidence he opens
with "I Am A Pilgrim," the theme common to many of us
who have followed this music to a spiritual awakening. His pristine
Piedmont styled fingerpicking on Davis' "Slow Drag" and
McTell's seminal "Broke Down Engine" are pieces to play
over and over. "Crucifixion / Jesus Make My Dying Bed"
has Hawkins reaching back to a tune he wrote in 1964 as a student
of Davis. The other Davis song Hawkins covers is "I Belong
To The Band." With Maria Mulduar singing, Hawkins recreates
the pure power of the joyous music Muldaur and others were recording
in NYC during the 1960's folk revival. The disc ends with a dense
three minutes of noodling around with "Amazing Grace"
until Hawkins sets his course with bits of three McTell tunes, "Savannah
Mama," "Travelin' Blues," and McTell's own 1940's
recording of "Amazing Grace." This fitting instrumental
tribute to McTell takes Bluesfied full circle. Every Hawkins performance,
live or recorded, achieves perfection balancing his passionate love
of pre-war acoustic blues and honest songwriting. The genuine musical
soul of Blind Willie McTell, Rev. Gary Davis and others Hawkins
has sat with are revived with every strum and pick. For the guitarists
interested in his finger style methods, Hawkins also has three videos
teaching the styles of McTell, Mance Lipscomb, and Lightnin' Hopkins
he recorded for Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop. These are also
available on his website.
Hawkins is a true living apostle of the True Living Blues. He not
only plays each note authentically and flawlessly in a wide variety
of traditional and modern blues styles, but more importantly, he
delivers a huge measure of Soul in every note - and after all -
that's what the Blues are all about."
"Ernie is a powerful
blues guitar player. He can duplicate the sounds, music and feelings
of the blues greats of yesteryear, i.e. Rev. Gary Davis, Mance Lipscomb,
Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Willie McTell etc. Ernie combines the rare
traits of being a superb musician and a great communicator of this
music. He can easily communicate the intricacies of their playing
in a clear and direct manner as well as extend the genre to his
Gary Davis always took great delight when his students became accomplished
performers themselves and this guy here is one of them. …much of
the great man’s teaching has rubbed off. Hawkins is one of the few Davis interpreters
that can capture his richly inventive bass runs. …the slide work
played on the delicious sounding twelve-string on his tribute to
McTell is evocative and very effective.
is a really tastefully done album, with a lot of honest feel, some
very pretty picking, and vocals that really tell the story. In this era of bombastic blues, this is
very low key, and very refreshing.
I liked the various instrumentation and the overall gentle
feel. I particularly liked Moonbeam and Root
hog for the cool feels.”
is now an undeniable master in the Piedmont tradition and stands
with Brownie McGee and John Jackson. He’s so proficient that the only proponents
of that style who are more technically adventurous are Blind Blake
and the Rev. Gary Davis.”
ray of sunshine, a perfect cure for the winter doldrums.
It’s unpretentious, overwhelmingly sweet and good-hearted…positively
glowing with good feeling. Hawkins may belittle his own abilities,
but it truth, they’re considerable.
Bluesified is a fine tribute to his years of dedication.
One of the “Top 10 most listened-to recordings in
Blues Revue’s offices”. April 2001
“Ernie Hawkins hails from Pittsburgh. Not exactly a hotbed of acoustic blues, but Hawkins is one of the best. This is the kind of playing a lot of us aspired to when we were young”. Vintage Guitar
you like your blues, ragtime, and gospel music fingerpickin’ good,
Ernie Hawkins’ latest album is the one to roll with. Don’t think this boy can’t sing. His deep tones are so laid-back, back-porch
growly, you’d swear you were in the Texas hills.
really keeps him going – and what makes him outright spectacular-is
his embrace of the ragtime and gospel traditions of his mentor,
the late Rev. Gary Davis.”
will be enjoyed by all fans of acoustic blues guitar.”
wonder what the Rev. Gary Davis would have sounded like if he had
studied with Blind Blake?
Or had Davis lived another 20 years, what his playing would
be like? Ernie Hawkins answers these questions
with his unique, hard-won voice on Blues Advice. Hawkins is one of the finest acoustic
bluesmen between New York and Chicago.”
are people who can do nothing wrong. Ernie Hawkins seems to be one
of them. Whether fingerpicking, slide or ragtime, the atmosphere
fits and delivers warmth. Hawkins vocals stick in the ear, leaving
remembrance of the Mississippi Delta. Hawkins doesnt copy;
he delivers a unique style in a very successful way.
rises far above average with a massive infusion of heart and soul.
This music is who he is.
There is such a blast of feeling in his voice you just flat-out
On all, he plays with charm and grace. Hawkins’ natural and unforced vocals deliver the lyrics with warmth and conviction. This is a release that will delight fans of acoustic blues. Ron Weinstock Washington DC Blues Society
“WOW! I have serious doubts about my verbal skills being adequate to describe this recording…. This is a real fingerpicking showcase…If you are a fan of traditional acoustic fingerpicking music (or even if you aren’t), you really should pick this one up. Jim Wright Kansas City Blues News
minor legend in the Midwest folk/blues scene, Ernie Hawkins’ name
is becoming known among blues fans as one of the finest, and most
authentic, guitar players anywhere. “Bluesified” is a wonderful
treat for any fan of authentic country blues. … The album opens
with the sound of a sweet, delicate guitar, loping along as if on
a lazy summer day. …Closing the CD, “Amazing Grace” is a glorious
gem of composition and craftsmanship.
What’s most clear from this album is the sense that Hawkins
has finally found the inspiration within his soul that has allowed
him to use his musical skills in a spiritual expression.
The feeling of wonder and awe that emanates from the speakers
is a marvel to experience.
was only on the third listening that I really began to appreciate
the subtle nuances and low-key charm of this CD…you come up with
a bright, cheerful, rolling, show-tune kind of sound, an older-audience,
toe-tapping, smiling, head-moving-side-to-side folky sound. This is music for a quiet happy mood.”
the post-Stevie Ray Vaughan era where seemingly every blues guitarist
thinks they get paid by the note, it is easy to forget the simple,
unadorned charm of piedmont-style acoustic blues where each note
has a meaning and the stories unfold like folk tales around a campfire. Ernie Hawkins is a master of the style…
If you’re looking for some blues that is honest and true
to its roots grab this disc. (Bluesified)
resultant sound is consistently warm, engaging and enjoyable.
The majestic “Crucifixion” gets cushioned with a driving
twelve-string’s rich full-bodied resonance. The atmospheric “Amazing
Grace” is fully draped with spidery shadows of slide, and the gorgeous
“Moonbeam” slides on Hawkins’ guitar and silken ribbons that unfurl
from an accompanying clarinetist. Worth the hunt.
of which makes for a fascinating listen!”
this long-awaited release, Hawkins further fortifies his reputation
as a purveyor of the Right Stuff! There’s no one we’ve heard who’s so thoroughly
assimilated the masterful style of the great Rev. Gary Davis, but
beyond that there’s a mature, almost spiritual depth that informs
every note of this splendid album.
He’s a lonesome, beguiling vocalist and a guitarist with
an unerring feel for the bare wires, the lean, mean Fundamental
Tone of bluesdom. We’ve always though Ernie Hawkins was
the Real Deal.
gotta tell ya, we’re just crazy about Ernie’s stuff”.
“I had to do a double-take when I put this disc on because I thought I was listening to a twilight years recording of some grizzled country bluesman from the 1940s. There is no attempt to modernize this collection of chestnuts by old masters… Normally I would ask myself “Why bother?” when listening to an album like this. Just dig out the originals and get the real deal. But this album gets around that problem by sounding so damn good.
acoustic guitar tone, whether fingerstyle or slide, is admirable.
… This CD will delight acoustic fans.
the opening with the classic gospel of I am a Pilgrim to
the closing slide tribute to Blind Willie McTell, Ernie Hawkins
has turned out an impressive collection of acoustic blues. There’s something for everyone here.
My favorite cut was Root Hog or Die… I could close
my eyes and see myself in a speakeasy dressed in drapey silk and
a long rope of pearls, holding a glass of bathtub gin and swaying
to the music filling the smoky club. Ernie makes you feel it, smell it, taste
it. You have to hear
is easily on par with any of his peers in the current acoustic blues
is a true treasure, period. That Hawkins has mastered the Piedmont
blues-style of guitar playing is immediately evident, but technical
skill only goes so far. What is more important is that Hawkins feels
the music he plays. Each
tune here is a gem. …
“Moonbeam” is pure inspiration.
“I am a Pilgrim” should have been included on the “O Brother,
Where Art Thou” soundtrack. Get your hands on this album.
to say that this CD is a very good one would be a terrible injustice”.
“Lawdy, lawdy, this is authentic acoustic blues!” http://www.minor7th.com/
is a great CD. Hawkins’ mastery of the instrument becomes
breathtakingly evident after repeated listenings. An important work. Hawkins is gaining a national reputation
as one of the world’s finest purveyors of this almost-lost American
art form. He is a passionate
man with a gentle spirit and lots of soul.”
is like a hot steaming stack of pancakes, piled with whipped butter
and dripping with syrup…SWEET! Ernie is a standout guitar player. I’ll tell the world.”
“VERY VERY impressive. Definitely one of the Best Blues albums as of late!” (“Bluesified”) Chris Darling, WMPG radio, Portland Maine
“I am sure you don’t need one more cat raving about your CD but I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with it. Glorious, amazing, splendid music. Better than ever, if that’s possible.” Peter Berryman
is a skilled and courageous artist, using dexterous, subtle guitar.
“Bluesified” is terrific! …It’s going to be in my CD player for
a long time…much like the earlier “Blues Advice”. Another inspired yet very cohesive
effort. Truly every
cut on this record is a winner.
“ I don’t know how many people are in the group I call the
Reverend Gary Davis Chowder and Marching Society.
I could reel off a hundred names, some famous, most of them
not. They have two things in common: studying Rev. Gary Davis’ works and picking
their butts off. Now,
most of these people are my friends, and like other groups of friends,
we tend to scandalize whoever is out of earshot.
That’s right, we talk about them behind their back: who’s doing what, who just released a
new CD, who plays the best, that sort of thing. Well, I’ve had a lot of these conversations,
‘cause I got a lot of friends, and I couldn’t exactly give you a
frequency count, but I’ll tell you one thing: the name that keeps coming up is Ernie
Hawkins. He’s the one,
we either want to break his fingers, or break our own. Ernie Hawkins. Remember that. We ain’t no slouches. Ernie Hawkins.”
“The problem with most people who attempt to cop the Piedmont feel is that they’re too good at it. That style has its own feel and isn’t one that particularly moves me beyond the appreciation for the technique for it, a decidedly personal call for sure. Often, the guitar is somehow too clean and in the process the soul of the music gets sucked out. Somehow, Ernie avoids this. He plays flawlessly to be sure, but within the context of the album it has real appeal and depth and isn’t some kind of academic exercise that you get from some “masters” who will remain nameless.
I think a lot of it has to do with Hawkins’ voice. The first sense I got in hearing him was that this might be the kind of think that would be featured in the follow up soundtrack for Oh Brother Where Art Thou. In other words, style of singing is far more folk country blues than down and dirty blues, and I, for one, like it very much. The music, the character of the voice and, then, the album taken as a whole forms a kind of bridge between two different forms of music.
recommend it – you’ll find your blood pressure lowering and your
scarcity of recorded music and absence from the blues-festival circuit
notwithstanding, Ernie Hawkins is simply one of the finest traditional
Piedmont/East Coast blues guitarists alive.
In Hawkins’ hometown of Pittsburgh, he is widely regarded
as a civic treasure, the crown jewel of the Iron City blues scene.
Coupled with his understated brilliance on an acoustic six-string,
Hawkins transforms everything he sings into singularly plaintive
expressions of joy, hope, sadness, desperation, and friendship.
Since Blues Advice was never distributed far outside the
Pittsburgh city limits, it remains a small, mostly undiscovered
masterpiece. Still, this is a disc for the ages, a
reminder of the enduring grace and beauty of the blues well done.”