Music Reviews

Elmer Hawkes - The Songs of Elmer Hawkes

“A small gem of an album.”

Dan Ouellette, Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Songs For The Stagehands is a small masterpiece of Contemporary vignettes, pensive ballads in the Townes Van Zandt tradition and haunting evocations of intimacy and love.”

Steve Morse, The Boston Globe

Folk Roots Magazine, London

“Hawkes' press clippings compare him favourably to all manner of compatriots (Waits, Dylan, Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt) and not wholly without reason. Amidst the serious stuff he has a sometimes macabre sense of humour. He writes a decent jokey C&W drunk song...”

“for more reverent country influence there's the excellent Wild Winds On The County Line, a haunting duet with an uncredited female vocalist. He switches easily between subjects and the arrangements are opulent.”

Nick Beale, Folk Roots Magazine, London

Elmer Hawkes - Songs For The Stagehands

“There's nothing that makes this gig more worthwhile than coming up with a real find and here comes one. Hawkes is a singer-songwriter that has soaked up lessons from the best, recalling variously Townes Van Zandt, Tom Waits and good period Dylan. This is a mature, well realized collection that would probably be the underground hit of the year with some real exposure on NPR.”

Graham Carlton, Midwest Record Recap, Evanston, Il

Elmer Hawkes - Boston Serenade

“A very well-crafted album from a songwriter who doesn't pen songs about the usual things. Instead we get a tribute to Orville Wright and The Man Who Built Carnegie Hall. He's written one of the better songs about touring in a band called Trigger Happy Band. Most of the songs have a country-flavor in the arrangements, especially in songs like Blood and Thunder and The Fella That Lay on the Floor, without being overly C&W. The songs have a singalong quality that makes them attractive. On the whole he shows a marked ability to turn a good phrase, tell a good story and write a good melody. The record is extremely well recorded.”

Richard Cromonic, Sweet Potato

Internet Review, Alan Lewis, Brattleboro, Vermont

Boston Serenade by songwriter Elmer Hawkes is a promising album. It gets off to a good start with When The Deal Went Down, and contains a few of his best numbers, including the much-admired Lights Of Carlisle. I have not made a thorough study of the voices of the individual members of the Byrds but this guy sounds a little like one of them. His voice is at its best on up-tempo tunes, while many of his finest songs are slow and pretty. This sets up a certain tension that contributes to the unique character of his albums.”

“It seems that Songs For The Stagehands, is the record that got Elmer Hawkes the most attention. And well it should. It contains some of his finest material. One of the greatest songs here is No More Lookin' Like Phil and Don. It would be great to hear the Everly Brothers, themselves, sing this one. My favorite song for the stagehands is Bogie And Kate. The accompaniment on the album is quite good and includes Nashville songwriter Jess Leary plus Girl's Night Out keyboardist Alizon Lissance. I sought out this album largely on the strength of Steve Morse's notice in The Boston Globe in which he called Stagehands “a small masterpiece”. I am still happy with my purchase.”

Underdog is another strong album. It contains several of Hawkes' best songs, including Wild Winds On The County Line and a re-release of The Man Who Built Carnegie Hall. Say Hello To The Old Man, which I believe makes its debut here, is arguably among the finest songs Hawkes has written.”

“When I ran across The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, on the Internet, I thought it must be the work of a different Elmer Hawkes. Wrong again. The man who gave us No More Lookin' Like Phil And Don, has scored a stage musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. This is an ambitious work and Hawkes has much reason to be proud of the results. On the CD the composer was very successful in his selection of singers. Monica Tosches as Genevieve gives a particularly skillful performance on The Sachette's Tale. Making My Own Way By and Nearer To Morning Than Midnight stand out as well. The record's final number sent shivers up my spine.”

The Songs of Elmer Hawkes is a fine collection played and sung by a large and diverse cast of characters, from Hawkes himself, to Taylor Amerding of Northern Lights, to rocker Barrence Whitfield. There is humor and sadness; there are topical numbers and love songs. A few of my favorites are missing; yet other songs that I really like I heard here for the first time. Fair enough.”

“The harmonies are one of the attractions of this album, such as when the voices of Greg Greenway and Kathy Phipps blend together. The women do best on this outing. Lui Collins' vocals are quite wonderful on Pull Away From The Old Place, The Man Who Built Carnegie Hall, and especially, Wild Winds On The County Line. Maria Sangiolo's lovely voice is used to fine effect on In The Light Of Thy Grace. She picks up the tempo and is ably joined on the choruses by Jim Henry on When Love Was on Your Side. She gives her best performance on my favorite song on this album, Say Hello To The Old Man.”

“From beginning to end, the singers and players paid a fine tribute to a special songwriter, who plays guitar and harmonica along with the instruments of band mates John Curtis and Larry Luddecke. Elmer Hawkes must be pleased with this disk.”

Alan Lewis, Brattleboro, Vermont