Based out of Pittsburgh, Ernie Hawkins just
exploded on the blues scene in a big way this year. These
are acoustic blues gems in the style of his hero Gary Davis.
He covers Blind Blake, Skip James, Willie McTell and Son House
and tosses in a few originals that drip with authenticity.
Unquestionably the finest acoustic discs of the year.
Mark Gallo www.mnblues.com
Pittsburgh's Ernie Hawkins is one of the most
accomplished and impressive acoustic guitarists of our time.
Hawkins proves why he belongs in the ranks of the greats.
Where others have met the challenge with less than spectacular
results, Hawkins is confidently competent throughout -- which
is to say, he's just amazing. Whew!
Mark Gallo www.mnblues.com
Hawkins is a man of impeccable taste, and his
world weary vocals are perfectly suited to the song. 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.
Gordon Baxter www.mnblues.com
There isnt anything better to cure your
soul than this kind of blues. All the songs are little treasures.
Acoustic country blues doesnt get much better than this.
Bjorn Blues-Stkka Norway
He learned his acoustic guitar work from the
recordings of Blind Willie McTell and at the feet of Rev.
Gary Davis. Though Ernie Hawkins is an unfamiliar name to
many blues fans, his music and over 30 years of dedication
is a life commitment to be acknowledged. Hawkins expertly
follows a fingerpicking journey from Piedmont styles to the
ragtime traditions that were popular in the Middle Atlantic
States during the '20's and '30's. It's no coincidence he
opens with "I Am A Pilgrim," the theme common to
many of us who have followed this music to a spiritual awakening.
His pristine Piedmont styled fingerpicking on Davis' "Slow
Drag" and McTell's seminal "Broke Down Engine"
are pieces to play over and over. "Crucifixion / Jesus
Make My Dying Bed" has Hawkins reaching back to a tune
he wrote in 1964 as a student of Davis. The other Davis song
Hawkins covers is "I Belong To The Band." With Maria
Mulduar singing, Hawkins recreates the pure power of the joyous
music Muldaur and others were recording in NYC during the
1960's folk revival. The disc ends with a dense three minutes
of noodling around with "Amazing Grace" until Hawkins
sets his course with bits of three McTell tunes, "Savannah
Mama," "Travelin' Blues," and McTell's own
1940's recording of "Amazing Grace." This fitting
instrumental tribute to McTell takes Bluesfied full circle.
Every Hawkins performance, live or recorded, achieves perfection
balancing his passionate love of pre-war acoustic blues and
honest songwriting. The genuine musical soul of Blind Willie
McTell, Rev. Gary Davis and others Hawkins has sat with are
revived with every strum and pick. For the guitarists interested
in his finger style methods, Hawkins also has three videos
teaching the styles of McTell, Mance Lipscomb, and Lightnin'
Hopkins he recorded for Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop.
These are also available on his website.
Art Tipaldi Boston Blues Society
"Ernie Hawkins is a true living apostle of the
True Living Blues. He not only plays each note authentically
and flawlessly in a wide variety of traditional and modern
blues styles, but more importantly, he delivers a huge measure
of Soul in every note - and after all - that's what the Blues
are all about."
"Ernie is a powerful blues guitar player. He can duplicate the
sounds, music and feelings of the blues greats of yesteryear,
i.e. Rev. Gary Davis, Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind
Willie McTell etc. Ernie combines the rare traits of being a
superb musician and a great communicator of this music. He can
easily communicate the intricacies of their playing in a clear
and direct manner as well as extend the genre to his own experiences."
Rev. Gary Davis always took great delight when
his students became accomplished performers themselves and
this guy here is one of them. …much of the great man’s teaching
has rubbed off. Hawkins is one of the few Davis interpreters
that can capture his richly inventive bass runs. …the slide
work played on the delicious sounding twelve-string on his
tribute to McTell is evocative and very effective.
Robert Tilling, Rev. Gary Davis biographer, Blue &
“This is a really tastefully done album, with
a lot of honest feel, some very pretty picking, and vocals
that really tell the story. In this era of bombastic
blues, this is very low key, and very refreshing. I
liked the various instrumentation and the overall gentle feel.
I particularly liked Moonbeam and Root hog for the
Bruce Iglauer Alligator Records
“Hawkins is now an undeniable master in the
Piedmont tradition and stands with Brownie McGee and John
Jackson. He’s so proficient that the only proponents
of that style who are more technically adventurous are Blind
Blake and the Rev. Gary Davis.
…a ray of sunshine, a perfect cure for the
winter doldrums. It’s unpretentious, overwhelmingly
sweet and good-hearted…positively glowing with good feeling.
Hawkins may belittle his own abilities, but it truth,
they’re considerable. Bluesified is a fine tribute
to his years of dedication.
One of the “Top 10 most listened-to recordings
Blues Revue’s offices.
“Ernie Hawkins hails from Pittsburgh.
Not exactly a hotbed of acoustic blues, but Hawkins is one
of the best. This is the kind of playing a lot of us
aspired to when we were young. Vintage Guitar
“If you like your blues, ragtime, and gospel
music fingerpickin’ good, Ernie Hawkins’ latest album is the
one to roll with. Don’t think this boy can’t sing.
His deep tones are so laid-back, back-porch growly,
you’d swear you were in the Texas hills.
“What really keeps him going – and what makes
him outright spectacular-is his embrace of the ragtime and
gospel traditions of his mentor, the late Rev. Gary Davis.
“Bluesified will be enjoyed by all fans of
acoustic blues guitar.
“Ever wonder what the Rev. Gary Davis would
have sounded like if he had studied with Blind Blake?
Or had Davis lived another 20 years, what his playing would
be like? Ernie Hawkins answers these questions with
his unique, hard-won voice on Blues Advice. Hawkins
is one of the finest acoustic bluesmen between New York and
There are people who can do nothing wrong. Ernie Hawkins seems to
be one of them. Whether fingerpicking, slide or ragtime, the
atmosphere fits and delivers warmth. Hawkins vocals stick
in the ear, leaving remembrance of the Mississippi Delta.
Hawkins doesnt copy; he delivers a unique style in a
very successful way.
Five stars - highest rating Concerto Vienna Austria
“Hawkins rises far above average with a massive
infusion of heart and soul. This music is who he is.
There is such a blast of feeling in his voice you just
flat-out believe him.
Linda Bittner Pittsburgh Post Gazette
On all, he plays with charm and grace.
Hawkins’ natural and unforced vocals deliver the lyrics with
warmth and conviction. This is a release that will
delight fans of acoustic blues. Ron Weinstock
Washington DC Blues Society
“WOW! I have serious doubts about my
verbal skills being adequate to describe this recording….
This is a real fingerpicking showcase…If you are a fan of
traditional acoustic fingerpicking music (or even if you aren’t),
you really should pick this one up. Jim Wright
Kansas City Blues News
“A minor legend
in the Midwest folk/blues scene, Ernie Hawkins’ name is becoming
known among blues fans as one of the finest, and most authentic,
guitar players anywhere. “Bluesified is a wonderful treat
for any fan of authentic country blues. … The album opens
with the sound of a sweet, delicate guitar, loping along as
if on a lazy summer day. …Closing the CD, “Amazing Grace is
a glorious gem of composition and craftsmanship. What’s
most clear from this album is the sense that Hawkins has finally
found the inspiration within his soul that has allowed him
to use his musical skills in a spiritual expression.
The feeling of wonder and awe that emanates from the speakers
is a marvel to experience.
Dave Little Maine Blues Society
“It was only on the third listening that I
really began to appreciate the subtle nuances and low-key
charm of this CD…you come up with a bright, cheerful, rolling,
show-tune kind of sound, an older-audience, toe-tapping, smiling,
head-moving-side-to-side folky sound. This is music
for a quiet happy mood.
David Moore Desert Bluesbeat Tucson AZ
In the post-Stevie Ray Vaughan era where seemingly
every blues guitarist thinks they get paid by the note, it
is easy to forget the simple, unadorned charm of piedmont-style
acoustic blues where each note has a meaning and the stories
unfold like folk tales around a campfire. Ernie Hawkins
is a master of the style… If you’re looking for some
blues that is honest and true to its roots grab this disc.
Mark Smith West Michigan Blues Society
The resultant sound is consistently warm, engaging
and enjoyable. The majestic “Crucifixion
gets cushioned with a driving twelve-string’s rich full-bodied
resonance. The atmospheric “Amazing Grace is fully draped
with spidery shadows of slide, and the gorgeous “Moonbeam
slides on Hawkins’ guitar and silken ribbons that unfurl from
an accompanying clarinetist. Worth the hunt.
Dennis Rozanski Baltimore Blues Society
“…all of which makes for a fascinating listen!
John Valenteyn, Toronto Blues Society
“In this long-awaited release, Hawkins further
fortifies his reputation as a purveyor of the Right Stuff!
There’s no one we’ve heard who’s so thoroughly assimilated
the masterful style of the great Rev. Gary Davis, but beyond
that there’s a mature, almost spiritual depth that informs
every note of this splendid album. He’s a lonesome,
beguiling vocalist and a guitarist with an unerring feel for
the bare wires, the lean, mean Fundamental Tone of bluesdom.
We’ve always though Ernie Hawkins was the Real Deal.
“I gotta tell ya, we’re just crazy about Ernie’s
Pat Kreeft Atlanta Blues Society
“I had to do a double-take when I put this
disc on because I thought I was listening to a twilight years
recording of some grizzled country bluesman from the 1940s.
There is no attempt to modernize this collection
of chestnuts by old masters… Normally I would ask myself
“Why bother? when listening to an album like this.
Just dig out the originals and get the real deal. But
this album gets around that problem by sounding so damn good.
The acoustic guitar tone, whether fingerstyle
or slide, is admirable. … This CD will delight acoustic
Steve Bachleda Capital Area Blues Society Okemos MI
“From the opening with the classic gospel of
I am a Pilgrim to the closing slide tribute to Blind
Willie McTell, Ernie Hawkins has turned out an impressive
collection of acoustic blues. There’s something for
everyone here. My favorite cut was Root Hog or Die…
I could close my eyes and see myself in a speakeasy dressed
in drapey silk and a long rope of pearls, holding a glass
of bathtub gin and swaying to the music filling the smoky
club. Ernie makes you feel it, smell it, taste it.
You have to hear this CD.
Ann Manigin Atlanta Blues Society
Hawkins is easily on par with any of his peers
in the current acoustic blues scene. Bluesified
is a true treasure, period. That Hawkins has mastered
the Piedmont blues-style of guitar playing is immediately
evident, but technical skill only goes so far. What is more
important is that Hawkins feels the music he plays.
Each tune here is a gem. … “Moonbeam is pure inspiration.
“I am a Pilgrim should have been included on the “O
Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. Get your hands
on this album.
Michael Bosley Potomac Blues Society
“Not to say that this CD is a very good one
would be a terrible injustice.
Vicente Zumel La Hora Del Blues Spain
“Lawdy, lawdy, this is authentic acoustic blues!
“This is a great CD. Hawkins’ mastery
of the instrument becomes breathtakingly evident after repeated
listenings. An important work. Hawkins is gaining
a national reputation as one of the world’s finest purveyors
of this almost-lost American art form. He is a passionate
man with a gentle spirit and lots of soul.
Phil Harris Pittsburgh Magazine
“Bluesified is like a hot steaming stack of
pancakes, piled with whipped butter and dripping with syrup…SWEET!
Ernie is a standout guitar player. I’ll tell
Storman Norman DJ Rock101 Vancouver B.C.
“VERY VERY impressive. Definitely one
of the Best Blues albums as of late! (“Bluesified)
Chris Darling, WMPG radio, Portland Maine
“I am sure you don’t need one more cat raving
about your CD but I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with it.
Glorious, amazing, splendid music. Better than
ever, if that’s possible. Peter Berryman
Hawkins is a skilled and courageous artist,
using dexterous, subtle guitar. “Bluesified is terrific! …It’s
going to be in my CD player for a long time…much like the
earlier “Blues Advice. Another inspired yet very
cohesive effort. Truly every cut on this record is
John Irving Delta Snake Daily Blues
“ I don’t know how many people
are in the group I call the Reverend Gary Davis Chowder and
Marching Society. I could reel off a hundred names,
some famous, most of them not. They have two things
in common: studying Rev. Gary Davis’ works and picking
their butts off. Now, most of these people are my friends,
and like other groups of friends, we tend to scandalize whoever
is out of earshot. That’s right, we talk about them
behind their back: who’s doing what, who just released
a new CD, who plays the best, that sort of thing. Well,
I’ve had a lot of these conversations, ‘cause I got a lot
of friends, and I couldn’t exactly give you a frequency count,
but I’ll tell you one thing: the name that keeps coming
up is Ernie Hawkins. He’s the one, we either want to
break his fingers, or break our own. Ernie Hawkins.
Remember that. We ain’t no slouches.
Andy Cohen Memphis TN
“The problem with most people who attempt to
cop the Piedmont feel is that they’re too good at it.
That style has its own feel and isn’t one that particularly
moves me beyond the appreciation for the technique for it,
a decidedly personal call for sure. Often, the guitar
is somehow too clean and in the process the soul of the music
gets sucked out. Somehow, Ernie avoids this.
He plays flawlessly to be sure, but within the context of
the album it has real appeal and depth and isn’t some kind
of academic exercise that you get from some “masters who will
I think a lot of it has to do with Hawkins’
voice. The first sense I got in hearing him was that this
might be the kind of think that would be featured in the follow
up soundtrack for Oh Brother Where Art Thou. In
other words, style of singing is far more folk country blues
than down and dirty blues, and I, for one, like it very much.
The music, the character of the voice and, then, the
album taken as a whole forms a kind of bridge between two
different forms of music.
I recommend it – you’ll find your blood pressure
lowering and your outlook deepening.
Brian Robertson http://www.bigroadblues.com/
“His scarcity of
recorded music and absence from the blues-festival circuit
notwithstanding, Ernie Hawkins is simply one of the finest
traditional Piedmont/East Coast blues guitarists alive.
In Hawkins’ hometown of Pittsburgh, he is widely regarded
as a civic treasure, the crown jewel of the Iron City blues
scene. Coupled with his understated brilliance on an
acoustic six-string, Hawkins transforms everything he sings
into singularly plaintive expressions of joy, hope, sadness,
desperation, and friendship. Since Blues Advice was
never distributed far outside the Pittsburgh city limits,
it remains a small, mostly undiscovered masterpiece.
Still, this is a disc for the ages, a reminder of the enduring
grace and beauty of the blues well done.