The High Hawks Discuss Making Their 2nd Album, “Mother Nature’s Show”
The High Hawks: Mother Nature’s Show
Header photo my Michael Weintrob.
The High Hawks are an all-star cast of musical friends from Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, Hard Working Americans, and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. They are following up their acclaimed eponymous debut with Mother Nature’s Show, out February 16 on LoHi Records. PRE-ORDER HERE
We’ve all heard about how the crow flies, but how does the hawk fly?
What about a High Hawk?
If the hawk flies high enough, does it meander through the physical, social, and political landscape, using a riverboat as its guide, following the Mighty Mississippi from one end of the country to another?
To answer these questions and more, six musicians converged on New Year’s Day 2023, at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, just 20 miles west of the Mississippi River. They recorded 12 tracks that would go on to become the second High Hawks album, Mother Nature’s Show.
On the surface, The High Hawks are an unlikely group of musicians and friends, coming from different backgrounds and spanning a few decades of experience, yet all connected loosely through various projects they’ve been a part of over the years. Great American Taxi – founded by Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon) and Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans) – acts as the common thread.
Bassist Brian Adams and drummer Will Trask are both members of Taxi along with Staehly, and Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone produced two of their albums. Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades wasn’t quite out of grade school when Taxi formed, but has played alongside just about everyone while touring the festival scene with Horseshoes. “I’m one of the “young bucks” in the band,” Greuel says, “and I’m often feeling really grateful to get to learn from some more seasoned musicians than I.”
The debut album from this supergroup was released in June of 2021, and a series of much-heralded shows followed the well-received album.
Now, the High Hawks are soaring again, with Mother Nature’s Show, to be released February 16, 2024 on LoHi Records.
The High Hawks first self-titled album was released in June of 2021
Mother Nature’s Show: Thawing out and heading South
Driveway’s got a foot of ice,
I swear it’s ten below
That high country sun’s sure bright
the wind it always blows
“Somewhere South” The High Hawks
Mother Nature’s Show represents a journey of sorts, following the “Blues Highway” 61 along the Mississippi – starting in Minnesota and carving out a slice of Americana all the way south to New Orleans.
But on New Year’s Day at Pachyderm Studios, New Orleans seemed a world away.
“I don’t think it ever got above 20 degrees,” remembers Vince Herman of the frigid Minnesota weather. “There is definitely a lot of winter in the record. But then we hit a New Orleans stride and were feeling like Spring. It’s a record about thawing. And heading South.”
Mother Nature’s Show begins with the “Diamond Sky” of a cold winter, and then heads to “Somewhere South” where the “Temperature Is Rising.”
“We could start to envision this long riverboat ride along the mighty river right through the center of this country,” explains Chad Staehly. “It all moved through some various American styles of music that are all held together with the same roots…We also got the feeling that some of the characters in the songs and some of the storytelling also incorporated a wide swath of American people and the human condition.”
Adam Greuel reflects on the journey of Mother Nature’s Show: “The reality is that we play rock n’ roll, and rock n’ roll is the culmination of lots of different musical waters. There’s that Levon Helm quote that discusses that in The Last Waltz, and I’ve always loved that. The big rivers in the country, like the Mississippi and the Missouri, are such a sweet articulation of that process, in that the water passes through so many microcosms of music and culture. It might pass an old-time fiddler in Red Wing, MN, a country bar tavern blasting Waylon and Hank Williams in Iowa, a blues band in Memphis, and a Cajun Band in Baton Rouge before we’re finally in New Orleans getting weird as hell.”
But it was in the cold of winter, not the warm South, where the six friends took full advantage of their environment and the inspiring vibe of Pachyderm Studios.
As drummer Will Trask recalls, “With the cold as harsh as it was and everyone staying on campus, work and rest were more or less the exclusive focus. I had truly never gotten to disappear into working on an album quite like this. We lived and breathed making that record… frankly, it was beautiful.”
Chad Staehly seconds the sentiment, adding, “All we had to do was focus on the task at hand, which was to create Mother Nature’s Show, and Mother Nature rewarded us with a great blizzard, some beautiful starry nights and some special moonscapes!”
In turn, The High Hawks rewarded the listeners with a sophomore effort that is just as unique and diverse as their debut, capturing the variety of musical backgrounds and styles the six Hawks bring to the table. As in their self-titled debut, Mother Nature’s Show represents something completely different than the sum of its parts. The High Hawks create their own genre, and in their second album, that sound feels even more comfortable and genuine.
Electric and Illegal
The High Hawks are currently hitting the road to celebrate Mother Nature’s Show, a feat of its own, considering the busy schedules of the “parent bands” most of the six typically tour with.
“The High Hawks’ tours are celebrations of getting to be with friends we don’t see very often,” declares Vince Herman. “It’s not easy to organize the schedules and find time to play for this group of rowdies. But we do it because we all find something different from all our other projects in this group of friends. Hell, I even get to play electric!”
Breaking out of their expected roles, The High Hawks create an unstoppable energy that flows from the stage to the crowd. Tim Carbone, for example, is most often seen playing fiddle with Railroad Earth. With the Hawks, he also gets to play electric guitar, as does Adam Greuel, who typically is on acoustic guitar with Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. Combined with Vince Herman, there are often 3 electric guitars ripping on stage.
As Tim Carbone says, “It’s so much fun and such high energy…it should be illegal!”
Luckily, High Hawkin’ is now legal in most states.
Just to be safe, they’ll be kicking things off in Colorado, where hawks can legally be as high as they want. They’ll join Greensky Bluegrass on a few dates, and then head to the West Coast.
The High Hawks: Merchants of Joy
As The Hawks managed to capture on their albums, their live affairs are also a journey, showing off the incredible wealth of talent amassed by this supergroup.
Bassist Brian Adams refers to that talent, saying “I get to perform in the Traveling Wilburys of the jam band scene!”
Adam Greuel reflects on working with this crew, “The High Hawks have allowed me to explore some of that territory that I’ve always had a yearning to create, but not the canvas to do so.”
“We’re all friends and wanted to find a way to hang out,” adds Staehly. “This band is the vehicle for that, we had no idea that it would turn into two albums of original material, etc., but the muse brought us here. Getting to tour and play shows brings an immense amount of joy to everyone and I think that is evident to anyone who participates in the audience as well. I like to say that we’re ‘joy merchants’.”
Greuel continues, “I think the music that the High Hawks makes has all kinds of musical feeling to it, mostly because we’re all folks who are interested in a broad sense of what music is. Sure we might play specific instruments, but those are mostly conduits to playing what our own personal musical ethos is, which of course comes together to form the ethos that is ‘The High Hawks’”.
Vince Herman sums it up, “I can’t wait to get out on the road and celebrate these tunes because it’s a dang good record I think folks will enjoy. See ya there!”
Upcoming tour dates for The High Hawks:
THU, Feb. 15 – Frisco, CO – 10 Mile Music Hall +
FRI, Feb. 16 – Denver, CO – Ophelia’s
SAT, Feb. 17 – Boulder, CO – eTown Music Hall
SUN, Feb. 18 – Ft. Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre ^
THU, Feb. 29 – West Des Moines, IA – Val Air Ballroom *
FRI, Mar. 1 – St. Paul, MN – Palace Theatre *
SAT, Mar. 2 – Chicago, IL – The Salt Shed *
SUN, Mar. 3 — Madison, WI – The Sylvee *
TUE, May 7 — Portland, OR — Polaris Hall
WED, May 8 — Bend, OR — The Domino Room
THU, May 9 — TBA
FRI, May 10 — Novato, CA — HopMonk Tavern Novato %
SAT, May 11 — Auburn, CA — Odd Fellows Lodge/ Keep Smilin’ Promotions @
SUN, May 12 — Santa Cruz, CA — Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz
THUR, June 27 – Blue Ox Music Festival – Eau Claire, WI
+ – w/ The High Hawks with Chris Thompson & Friends at 10 Mile Music Hall
^ – w/ Wood Belly
* – supporting Greensky Bluegrass
% – w/ Jason Beard and the Whiskey Family Band
@ – w/ Broken Compass Bluegrass
THE HIGH HAWKS – MOTHER NATURE’S SHOW
TEMPERATURE IS RISING
FOX RIVER BLUES
MOTHER NATURE’S SHOW
TOP SHELF, ROCK BOTTOM
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
SAME OLD STORIES
THIS IS WHAT LOVE FEELS LIKE
SHINE YOUR BLUES
THE HIGH HAWKS:
VINCE HERMAN – VOCALS, GUITARS
TIM CARBONE – VOCALS, GUITARS, FIDDLE
CHAD STAEHLY – VOCALS, KEYBOARDS
ADAM GREUEL – VOCALS, GUITARS
BRIAN ADAMS – BASS GUITAR
WILL TRASK – DRUMS, PERCUSSION
PRODUCED BY THE HIGH HAWKS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: JIM BROOKS
RECORDED BY NICK TVEITBAKK AT PACHYDERM STUDIOS – CANNON FALLS, MN – JANUARY 2-9, 2023
ADDITIONAL RECORDING BY TODD DIVEL AT COLORADO SOUND – DENVER, CO
ADDITIONAL RECORDING BY TIM CARBONE AT BLACK LOTUS – DELAWARE WATER GAP, PA
MIXED BY DON STERNECKER AND TIM CARBONE AT MIX-O-LYDIAN RECORDING STUDIO – DELAWARE WATER GAP, PA
MASTERED BY BRUCE TEMPLETON AT MICROPHONIC MASTERING – MINNEAPOLIS, MN
ALBUM ART DESIGN AND LAYOUT BY BRAIN FLOWER DESIGNS
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