Pittsburgh based Ernie Hawkins has been playing the blues for over 30 years, although his recorded output has been somewhat sparse until the last five years or so. On his latest offering, "Bluesified," Hawkins continues to do what he does best, which is playing some very fine guitar, mostly in the Piedmont and Texas traditions.
The album opens in grand style as Ernie picks his way through his own arrangement of Merle Travis' "I Am A Pilgrim." It shows that Hawkins is a man of impeccable taste, and his world weary vocals are perfectly suited to the song. The second tune is an arrangement of the Rev. Gary Davis' "Slow Drag," which reinforces first impressions, and shows that Hawkins is a dab hand at the Piedmont style as well as country/bluegrass. Hawkins' style is
mostly influenced by Rev. Gary Davis--with whom he studied extensively--and Blind Willie McTell.
Hawkins continues to impress on the title track, where switches to slide guitar, as if to prove the point that he really can play just about any style he wants. This one is the first of the tunes that Hawkins had a hand in writing. Hawkins continues to maintain the high standard throughout, as he picks his way through songs from the repertoires of Willie McTell ("Broke Down Engine"), Harlem Hamfats ("Root Hog Or Die"), and namesake Ted ("Hawkins Rag"). The latter is the pick of the tracks, here, although it is a close run contest, with the aforementioned "Slow Drag," and "What You Gonna Do?" with most of the other tracks are not far behind. Overall, though, "Bluesified" really is one of those albums where you could select a track at random, and be pleasantly surprised by the results.
The more discerning listener who appreciates fingerpicking guitar will definitely want to check out "Bluesified." It is a fine album, and at a time when there seems to be an increasing number of acoustic blues guitarists, Ernie Hawkins deserves to be right up there with the pick of them. "Bluesified" is well worth tracking down, and if all else fails you
should be able to order it through Ernie's own site (www.erniehawkins.com).
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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