For many years Ernie Hawkins has been playing concerts, clubs, blues
and folk festivals, workshops, colleges, museums, parties, fist
fights and millennium celebrations in the United States, Canada,
Japan and Europe and at every stop in the road from A Prairie
Home Companion to Antone's to the Madrid Jazz Festival. He has
played with blues greats such as Son House, Mance Lipscomb,
Fred McDowell, Jim Brewer, Rev. Gary Davis and many others.
Ernest Leroy Hawkins was born in Pittsburgh PA in 1947. In the
'50's he had a paper route, a beagle and a Roy Rodgers harmonica
(which he still has somewhere).
He first learned country guitar, mandolin, banjo and bones from
a guy named Pete who worked on his Uncle's farm. Pete had come
up playing with the Lilly Brothers and had rambled around the
country - taking a 30-year detour down whisky lane that landed
him in a cabin on the farm as property caretaker...and becoming
a primary musical mentor to Ernie.
Ernie was already playing blues as a teenager when he heard
a fellow passing through town play Gary Davis' "Let Us
Get Together". He was hooked then and forever on country
blues and ragtime guitar...and players like Davis, Blind Willie
McTell, Blind Blake, Willie Johnson, Skip James, John Hurt,
Right after high school, Ernie moved to New York City with only
one purpose - to track down and study with Rev. Gary Davis.
In '69 he moved back home, enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh
and earned a degree in philosophy. During this time, Ernie played
with Niles Jones, a blues player living in the city and "rediscovered"
in the '90's as Guitar Gabriel.
In 1973 Ernie moved to Dallas for graduate school and earned
a Ph.D. in phenomenological psychology. Again he managed to
find the blues scene and hooked up with players all over the
southwest - learning some Lemon Jefferson, Funny Papa Smith,
Henry Thomas and Lightnin' Hopkins. So, with Ph.D. in hand,
Ernie wandered back into music.
In the early '80's he recorded his first solo album of ragtime
guitar," Ragtime Signatures". His second CD "Blues
Advice" was dedicated to the memory of his teacher, Reverend
Gary Davis on the occasion of the centennial of his birth. The
CD includes three songs taught to Ernie by Davis: "Penitentiary
Blues", "Florida Blues" and "Will There
Be Stars in My Crown" that have never been previously recorded.
Ernie's third CD "Bluesified" regularly plays in the
preemie and chemo units of a Pittsburgh hospital where it is
considered an integral part of the healing process. "Mean
Little Poodle" was Editor's Choice in Acoustic Guitar magazine.
Ernie's latest CD "Rags & Bones" has been declared
by many to be his best.
ten years he played electric guitar with the Blue Bombers,
one of Pittsburgh's favorite R&B bands.
Instructional videos on Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Willie McTell,
Mance Lipscomb, Rev. Gary Davis and guitar theory are available
for purchase from this website. Ernie has taught at most of
the major guitar camps in the world.
Ernie has been featured in SingOUT!, Fingerstyle Guitar, Dirty
Linen, Acoustic Guitar, Blues Revue and Vintage Guitar magazines.
He has appeared on "A Prairie Home Companion", "Mountain
Stage" , "Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour" and
XM radio. Ernie appears on Maria Muldaur's Grammy and Handy
nominated and Indie Award winning album "Richland Woman
Blues" and was the guitarist for the national support tour.
"Ernie Hawkins is an important link in the unbroken chain
of blues and gospel artists. His guitaristry and love of the
style is incomparable. From the Rev. Gary Davis into the future
with his own style Ernie is one of the special ones!" Jorma