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The Nighthawks Link:

The Nighthawks

The Nighthawks
Pain & Paradise

2001, Ruf

Opening with a cut from the famous California bluesman, Frank Zappa, the Nighthawks take on "Trouble Comin' Every Day" sets the tone for a no compromise platter of hard times and in your face roadhouse blues. Wenner is strident and rhythmic and wraps himself around a harp like no one's business. He's just as tough on the vocal duties, fully and articulately expressive with just enough edge. The 'Hawks put you somewhere between Pain & Paradise. Pete Kanaras is as happy with twanging, boogieing or picking, to which Jan Zukowski's bass provides a steady foil. Wrapping it all is a steady-handed (maybe too steady into monotonous) rockin' and rollin' rhythm machine in Pete Ragusa. The cuts have no nonsense, straight-forward vibes and the theme is interpersonal interaction. There's little question about what will be worked on by a boogie down "Shade Tree Mechanic," driven by a hot juking harp. Willie Dixon's "Same Thing" explores another side of the theme in a nice, slow glide version. Wenner's harp is a focuser bringing Little Walter's "High Temperature" to a steady rolling boil while the vocals are delivered with an Estrin-esque swing. An acoustic counterpoint is Delta deep that points out "Trouble On the Way." It's a fine shift in gears before the wrap up with "I Told You So" and "Snap It," two Nighthawk-written boogies. Maryland's Nighthawks have been called the world's best bar band but they can shake it on disk too. —Mark Gresser

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