Grand Ole Echo

I See Hawks in LA

Formed in 2000 by Rob Waller and brothers Paul and Anthony Lacques during a philosophical discussion and rock throwing session on an East Mojave desert trek, I See Hawks In L.A. wrote their first batch of songs and then sought advice from local country rock guru David Jackson, sideman with John Denver, Dillard and Clark, and Emmylou Harris.

Jackson set up a few mics and recorded Rob and Paul, playing along on bass. This demo turned into featured songs on the Hawks eponymous debut on now-defunct Ethic Records, featuring legendary fiddler Brantley Kearns (Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin, Hazel Dickens). The CD established the Hawks signature sound: high lonesome three part harmonies, twang guitar and unadorned acoustic arrangements, with lyrics musing on mortality, whales, and the geography of pre-apocalyptic L.A. I See Hawks In L.A. received rave reviews, made the F.A.R. Alternative Country Chart, and continues to get regular airplay. With its experimental spirit and wide ranging musical influences, the record tweaks some traditionalists. But most agree that the Hawks have broken new ground.

The Hawks hadn't planned on much more than back porch songwriting and beer drinking, but the buzz prompted them into live performing, and they quickly rose to the top of heap in the brand new Los Angeles alternative country scene. Bassist Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Hank Thompson, Rose Maddox) threw in with the Hawks after sitting in at Ronnie Mack's Barndance in Burbank, and after brother Anthony left to pursue documentary film making fulltime, drummer Shawn Nourse (Dwight Yoakum, James Intveld) signed on for a trip to Texas and SXSW and never left. Kickass electric shows all over SoCal, from House of Blues to the Cinema Bar, garnered the Hawks two L.A. Weekly Best Country Artist awards in 2002 and 2003.

The Hawks second CD, "Grapevine," was released on the summer solstice 2004, and immediately went to #1 on the F.A.R. Chart, lingered in the Americana Chart's top 100 for months, and hit #2 on XM Radio's X Country station in January '05. Rave reviews and a national audience followed the Hawks 28 city Summer '04 tour, from a state prison in Vermont to a Mississippi roadhouse to the Cactus Cafe and KUT's Eklektikos in Austin, to Hempfest in Seattle. Summer of '05 West Coast and Rockies tours brought the Hawks to the woods, and the woods to the Hawks.

The Hawks' third CD, "California Country," with guest spots from Chris Hillman, Rick Shea, Cody Bryant, Danny McGough, Tommy Funderburk, and other SoCal roots brethren, is a leap forward and backwards, both more progressive and aggressive on the electric/psychedelic front, and more stripped down on the acoustic numbers. Tackling subjects like despair in Disney World, blackjack in Jackpot, hippie parenting, donkeys, and Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, "California Country" brings more bluegrass, Phase 90 country psychedelia, and steel driven honky tonk to the Hawks sonic empire.

Summer 2006 brought the Hawks to 30 states, England, and Scotland, performing 57 shows to intimate living room audiences, honky tonks, and big outdoor festivals. Co-billed with some of their favorite artists--Lucinda Williams, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dave Alvin, The Blasters, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, everybodyfields, Tony Gilkyson, Randy Weeks, The Meat Puppets, and Mike Stinson--the Hawks feel a strong sense of community with the roots country tribe.

In May 2008 the Hawks released "Hallowed Ground," with guest spots from fiddlers Dave Markowitz and Gabe Witcher, pedal steeler Dave Zirbel, and forays into Celtic music, Tex Mex, and more of the Hawks psychedelic country rock and folk textures and harmonies. "Hallowed Ground" hit #1 on the FAR Chart, #4 on the Euro Chart, and got lots o' great reviews.

In Summer 2008 the Hawks did a brief but memorable tour of Northern Ireland and the Down On The Farm festival in Norway.

Rob Waller and Paul Lacques had two songs on the Grammy nominated CD from Texas roots supergroup Polka Freakout. Hallowed Ground was featured in the HBO series True Blood, as two yuppies drained the blood from an aging vampire. This inspiring brush with big media has left the band with a warm fuzzy glow.

Look for the acoustic version of the band in February 2009 at the Folk Alliance national conference in Memphis. As always, the band is working on songs for a new CD. They're trying to shake their eco apocalyptic vision and lyrics theme, but it's no use. At least the reality of the times is catching up with the songs.

The Hawks have been featured performers in concert series including: The Ash Grove 50th Anniversary at UCLA, Sunset Junction (Silverlake), downtown L.A.'s California Plaza series, Seattle Hempfest, the Skirball Center, Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago, Joe's Pub in Manhattan, McCabes, The Folk Music Center, and the Getty Museum.

In 2003 The Hawks scored a "Modern Marvels" for the History Channel, a documentary on American cattle ranching from its roots in 19th century Texas to modern mega-factory-farms. The Hawks made soundscapes with old time fiddle, dobro, and jawharp, and brought the music to modern times with some Merle Haggard's Strangers-type country stomp and some space age (al la "Jetsons") guitar and human beat box.

John Lafayette Ramey

John Lafayette Ramey is a busy man. If you manage to catch a beer with him at one of his shows, it’s probably his longest vacation in memory. John stays constantly in the spotlight at some of Southern California’s most celebrated roots rock homes. You can see him at places like the The Redwood, the Cinema Bar, and the Press.

John likes to get out of town too, having played music in places like Tapei, Taiwan, Independent Samoa, and Missoula, Montana. People say his music sounds like, well, John Lafayette Ramey. But John thinks his sound falls somewhere close to Tom Petty and Willie Nelson.

John released his second album Reminiscent Killings Of The Heart in August of 2012. John’s debut album Flying Blind garnered a devoted following after its 2006 release.

John’s got a pretty interesting day job, too. He works as a sports broadcaster. John is the play-by-play voice of UCLA baseball and UC Riverside basketball.

Some of John’s other passions include reading, travel, rural Mexico, historical LA, aviation, and motorcycles. He lives in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.

Calico The Band

Somewhere between the Walnut Groves of the San Fernando Valley and Old Rancho Hollywood, three wayfaring strangers made their first acquaintance.

Juniper “Juni” was a slender, fair, auburn tressed farm hand from Tujunga who ventured out on her weekly trip to the Van Nuys Feed store to buy grains for her increasingly agitated ranch boss. While lazily browsing the isles, Juni heard a song coming from beyond the store window. She wandered outside....there, perched on a stump sat a young blonde troubadour, Perry Rose, strumming a six string in the late morning sun. Juni dropped her sack of feed, and headed in Perry’s direction. Just as Juni began to introduce herself, two blind bandits came flying out from behind the feed store and snatched the ole guitar from Perry’s hands!

The bandits flashed rusty knives at Perry, and with empty eyes, stared at Juni who had come to Perry’s aid. The bandits gave a sly grin and started their escape, when out of the blue, like a hurricane, a beautiful and mysterious brunette came flying at the bandits snapping away the guitar in a single blow, knocking the taller bandit down to half his size. Perry fought off the other with a sycamore branch while Juni grabbed a snaggled broom handle from the feed store porch and chased the bandits away. From the cloud of dust and grunts, the bandits staggered away licking their wounds.

Dr. Fred, the Van Nuys Feed storeowner, came out fuming at the mess made on his porch. He threatened to call The Briggs Sheriff and proclaimed, “I banish you hooligans from these lands!” Not having time to properly explain the scuffle, the three girls fled to an old barn in the hills of The Crescent Valley known only to Juni since Tiburcio Vasquez abandoned it in 1854.

The dark brunette finally had opportunity to introduce herself by her acquired name, Snap Dragon. The girls soon discovered they had much in common. All three were orphaned gypsies, originally born of traveling musicians from the rugged canyon country.

They began to sing a tune of their journeys around a crackling bonfire one night at Vasquez’ Hideaway. The first song penned was their anthem called “Lone Ranger.” To follow...they forged the tune “Fools Gold” in homage to Snap Dragon’s parents who had perished in a mining accident in the San Francisco area while she was just a toddler. Similarly, Juni’s folks died in a bar fight in one of the mining camps, while Perry’s family had been swallowed by the earth in a massive earthquake known as “the big one” hence their third tune “San Andreas Shake.”

As the band of girls made a new home in the hills, a young calico kitten with a broken hip came wandering into the hideaway for shelter and food. Perry, not having previous experience with cats, turned to Snap Dragon and Juni for advice and permission to keep the kitty as a “band cat.” Oddly enough, the colors of its fur reflected back the colors of all the girls’ hair spun together. The kitty began to speak of her long trek through the San Bernardino Mountains from where her ancestors once settled in a ghost town called Calico. From that moment, a new family formed...Calico The Band.

Juni never went back to her mean old boss at the chicken farm and the group survived off grain alcohol and bunch grass, until they had a set of songs to perform at local hootenannies and barn raisings where they were given food and board in trade for song and dance.

Their three-part harmonies, tales of trial and triumph, guitar-slinging skills, and dashing good looks garnered the troubadours local fame. Before long, an Italian Hollywood promoter offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse. He organized a few proper shows for the new group in the booming district of Downtown Los Angeles where they became the talk of the town. And, as they say, the rest is history...

"I believe Jeff Crosby is the authentic item...if I had half a brain, I would quit playing music and manage him...and if I were signing bands for Atlantic Records, I would have signed him a year ago...I would put my job on the line and never look back" – Jerry Joseph

Los Angeles, CA – Idaho-born, LA-based singer-songwriter Jeff Crosby's Silent Conversations ep will be released on Cosmo Sex School on March 5. This will be Cosmo Sex School's first release that is not a Jerry Joseph project.

Silent Conversations deals with the bittersweet emotions of leaving home and family for the first time and finding new appreciation for what you left behind. Partly written as Jeff moved from small town Idaho to L.A. with the rest composed during a month-long trip to Columbia, the five songs reflect the change he was making in his life at the time and the clarity that comes from distance. The title track, "Silent Conversations," was written while standing in the doorway of a catholic church in Colombia during a torrential downpour. "This Old Town" is a reaction to coming home after moving to LA, how different everything looks and how the place shaped him. "Family, How Ya Been" is taken from letters Jeff was attempting to write home while staying in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. Jeff says, "I'm not very good at keeping in touch or writing home so naturally the letters turned into a song. I found the poem while moving my stuff to LA and started performing the tune at pubs and bars. People really reacted to it so I decided to record it for the EP."

Jerry Joseph's first encounter with Jeff Crosby also elicited a strong reaction to his live performance. While opening for Jerry in the Rockies, Jerry was immediately struck by Jeff. Jerry raves, "Jeff is the whole package. His guitar playing is frankly ripping, he's got a big thoughtful voice and a great hungry band. He's fucking gorgeous and manages to not let that override his presence (give him time). And then there's the songs. I keep going back to Stephen Stills ala Manassas, in vocal timbre, guitar stylings and song writing. I would venture to guess as Jeff was forming his `thing', he had no idea who Stephen Still is. There's a lot of the Laurel Canyon vibe in his writing but at the end of the day, he's from Idaho."

The two played some more shows together and Jerry offered to put out the ep on his label, Cosmo Sex School. "I think Jeff is a rock star. I still like and look for rock stars in music, that's what I grew up with. They had presence and confidence and they looked cool and I could sing along and most importantly, they were not me. I didn't want to pay to see me, I wanted to go somewhere else, with cool locations and interesting friends and the camaraderie of a band and good drugs and pretty girls and I wanted to shake my ass while I was at it. I listen to Jeff and, at least for a moment, I go there. You might want to go there too..."

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Grand Ole Echo with I See Hawks in LA with John Lafayette Ramey, Calico The Band, Jeff Crosby

Sunday, July 21 · 5:00 PM at The Echo