I See Hawks In L.A. to restart the Palms party
“We got a big gig at The Palms in Winters tonight!” sing I See Hawks In LA in their song “Yolo County Airport” — and this will be particularly true on Friday, Jan. 6 when the Hawks play the first show at The Palms Playhouse as it reopens with new owners.
The Hawks – whose sound blends rock, country, bluegrass and psychedelia and is powered by soaring three-part harmonies, expressive instrumentation and evocative lyrics – last played the club in February in a show that was potentially the venue’s swan song.
Amidst uncertainty triggered by possible sale of the Winters Opera House (The Palms’ location since its 2002 move from a Davis, Calif. barn), the Hawks delivered a rousing show to a packed house and an audience listening to a live radio broadcast on KVMR.
“It was really moving and an honor to be chosen to do what might have been the last Palms show,” recalled the Hawks’ bassist Paul Marshall. “That was a very emotional night, and I don’t mind telling you I got a little misty.”
Lead singer Rob Waller added, “It felt like big boots to fill so we just tried to pour as much love and music and magic into the air as we could.”
While the building didn’t sell and The Palms did a run of four shows last spring, longtime owner/manager Dave Fleming decided the time was right for him to retire. After helming the storied venue for about 30 years, he sold The Palms to Andrew Fridae and Nora Cary in November.
Said Cary, “The Hawks’ energy and enthusiasm on stage, as well as their long history with The Palms, made them a perfect choice for our first act.”
Fridae said that he and Cary are “very pleased” to have the Hawks “inaugurate this new chapter of The Palms Playhouse.”
“Their creativity and attention to harmony grabbed my attention right away,” he said, “and their longstanding following at The Palms is a fun, enthusiastic audience we can’t wait to have back.”
That audience first got a taste of the Hawks about 12 years and four albums ago in a show the band memorialized in their country-rocker “Yolo County Airport.” The band, venue and audience quickly developed something of a mutual admiration society.
Speaking for himself as well as bandmates Rob Waller (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Paul Lacques (lead guitar) and Victoria Jacobs (drums), Marshall stated, “We love The Palms. We always know we’re in for a great time on a great gig. We’ve made a lot of friends and had a lot of good and foolish times in those fine environs. It’s always a highlight of our Northern California tours. It feels like we’re playing for family in a beautiful, big room.”
Marshall elaborated, “I like the warm atmosphere, and I like the big, high stage that lends itself to the feeling that we’re doing a real show. But the audience is still close enough and comfortable enough to make it feel intimate. The event-quality professional light and sound also contribute to a good artist/audience experience.
“Dave Fleming was a gem to work with, as well as all the staff who helped put on the shows. Everyone there has been great to us, and I really look forward to getting to know the new owners, Nora and Andrew.”
Waller said, “It’s a great stage and you can feel the history of all the great acts that’ve played there. I also love the lights and sound, and looking out from the stage you really can connect with the audience. It’s big and small at the same time.”
The Hawks are a soulful band, and their ability to convey a range of emotions partially explains their lasting appeal. The alchemy starts with the songs themselves, most of which are co-written by Waller and Lacques. The songwriters give themselves free rein, tackling topics as varied as a hippie childhood, good dogs, bad drivers and the solemn joy of an open-air desert wedding.
Waller’s lead vocals carry the songs’ emotions most directly to listeners’ hearts. Being emotive but not overly emotional is a difficult balance, but his resonant baritone walks that fine line.
Waller described getting the vocal mix as possibly “the craziest, stickiest glue of it all. It’s so hard to find singers you blend with. I treasure singing with Paul and Paul.”
The Hawks’ instrumentation supports the vocals. Marshall’s foundational bass bubbles and weaves through songs, providing understated complexity. Lacques’ lead electric, acoustic and slide guitar lines are as explosive or delicate as needed, with Waller’s rhythm acoustic as counterpoint. Jacobs’ drumming can rock propulsively or have a smooth country cadence.
The Hawks’ genre-bending roots music is a fitting glimpse into The Palms’ future as well as a nod to the venue’s legacy.
“We’re excited to bring back several seasoned Palms acts right away in the first couple months,” said Cary, “as well as some new acts, like The Sweet Remains. They may be new to The Palms, but their sound won’t seem out of place.”
In addition to the Hawks (Jan. 6) and harmony-driven trio The Sweet Remains (Jan. 13), the first month will include folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon (Jan.15), a co-bill with two of the region’s top acoustic bands Rita Hosking Trio and Barwick & Siegfried (Jan. 20), innovative acoustic guitarist Peppino D’Agostino (Feb. 3) and Celtic rockers Tempest (Feb. 11).
“It’s a great relief and another honor to be opening the next chapter of the Palms story,” said Marshall. “I think it’s going to be another night to remember, something that we’ll all be talking about years from now.”
I See Hawks In L.A.’s Friday, January 6 show at The Palms Playhouse (13 Main Street in Winters, Calif.) will start at 8 p.m. Tickets, $20, are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland and at the door if not sold out.
The Palms Playhouse:
Fri. 1/6/17 – I See Hawks In L.A. (8 p.m., $20) iseehawks.com
Fri. 1/13/17 – The Sweet Remains (8 p.m., $17) thesweetremains.com
Sun. 1/15/17 – John McCutcheon (7 p.m., $25) folkmusic.com
Fri. 1/20/17 – Rita Hosking Trio + Barwick & Siegfried (8 p.m., $20) ritahosking.com, barwickandsiegfried.net
Fri. 2/3/17 – Peppino D’Agostino (8 p.m., $20) peppinodagostino.com
Sat. 2/11/17 – Tempest (8 p.m., $20) tempestmusic.com
I See Hawks In L.A.:
Fri. 1/6/17 – The Palms Playhouse, Winters, Calif. (8 p.m., $20) palmsplayhouse.com
Tues. 2/7/17 – The Hi Hat, Highland Park, Calif. (9 p.m.) hihat.la
Tues. 2/14/17 – The Hi Hat, Highland Park, Calif. (9 p.m.) hihat.la
Tues. 2/21/17 – The Hi Hat, Highland Park, Calif. (9 p.m.) hihat.la
Sat. 2/25/17 – Pappy and Harriet’s, Pioneertown, Calif. (8 p.m.) pappyandharriets.com
Tues. 2/28/17 – The Hi Hat, Highland Park, Calif. (9 p.m.) hihat.la