Man, I love Ernie Hawkins. This is the third disc I’ve heard by him, and each one impresses more and more. There are very few individuals who play this stuff and make it real. This “stuff,” by the way, is acoustic country-blues. And Hawkins is, plain and simple, a master.
His original title cut is a perfect example. Six-string work that calls to mind an entire orchestra, blues as dark as night, and a husky vocal are all featured. His version of Freddy King’s “Hideaway” is a tour de force. Like me, you’re probably used to hearing this as an electric tune. Well, trust me, nothing is lost in the translation. It’s an electric classic turned into an acoustic classic, instantly. Incredible stuff.
The other nice thing about his playing is the originality. A lot of guys who play this stuff treat it a little too sacredly. Not Ernie. Check out “I Need Some Pettin’.” Great changes played in a really original fashion. Not your average country blues. He really captures the melancholy of the classic “Dehlia” by his mentor, Rev. Gary Davis. And, any record that has a version of “Step It Up and Go” on it that sounds this good is alright in my book.
I’m tellin’ ya, Ernie Hawkins is the real deal. If you have any interest in traditional country-blues, you owe it to yourself to check out his stuff.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.