I have to admit it; I didn’t know there was an alt-bluegrass
scene in New York. Goodwill is the
new release from the Hilary Hawke Band, an alt-bluegrass/country ensemble from
Brooklyn. The band consists of Hilary Hawke on banjo and vocals, Brian Geltner
on drums and percussion, Mike Brown on bass, and Brion Snyder on guitar. Hilary
Hawke penned the songs with the occasional help of Brian Geltner who also
produced with Brion Snyder.
Hawke’s songs are at once familiar and fresh. She draws on
the classics like The Stanley Brothers and Earl Monroe but injects her own
twist. A perfect example is the title cut, Goodwill. A bluegrass banjo with Waterboys style
percussion is supported by backing vocals oooing and aaaahing like a string
section. The chorus breaks out into a hymn as the banjo drops away. This is
Hawke’s songs and the band inventiveness provide a unique and refreshing sound
that is charming and addictive. Heaven
features Brion Snyder on keys in a gospel tinged tune. The handclaps are
reminiscent of tent revival meetings. Down
The Road is a nod to classic bluegrass. Kari Groff joins the band on fiddle
and Jacob Tilove picks mandolin as Hawke sings that she will be with her
darling “down the road.” Mother Night
is a touching ballad duet with acoustic guitarist, John Dyer.
The Hilary Hawke Band has a winner with Goodwill. The arrangements are fresh, the band is strong and energetic,
and Hawke’s songs stand well. If this is a representative sample of New York
alt-bluegrass scene then I’m in. Check out Goodwill.
to The Muse's News,
free monthly newsletter for songwriters
with exclusive articles, copyright & publishing advice,
music, website & book reviews, contest & market information,
a chance to win prizes & more!