Hocking River String Band – Red-Tailed Hawk Squawk (Independent)
“Red-Tailed Hawk Squawk” is the Hocking River String Band’s second album, and continues their exploration of a genre that incorporates bluegrass, Appalachian folksong, traditional stringband music and our favourite catch-all, Americana. The group is based in Ohio, where they’ve earned themselves a fierce local reputation for vigorous live shows, and they’ve transferred much of that energy to their latest collection, which was recorded live in a converted Columbus schoolhouse.
All five members write, sing and play strings – guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and dobro – and their mix of traditional and rock influences shape both their songwriting and their approach to their chosen genre(s). Although they’ve only been together as a group for a shade over two years, they play with an intuitiveness that’s breathtaking, and the brightness and vibrancy of their musicianship is a joy to hear. A trio of short instrumentals, “Bethea's Breakdown”, “Run, Arkansas, Run” and “Southern Flavor”, provides perfect showcases for speedy fingers and spontaneous musical interplay – and they’re fine folk tunes, too.
They’ve plenty of company. Launch track “The Great Divide” generates much the same dark tone as Dylan managed on “One More Cup Of Coffee”, and “Hocking Valley Line” is a classic train song - and there are never enough of those. “Jokin' Henry” tells its tale at breakneck speed, and is over all too soon, and they finish with the slower “Flesh and Bone”, it’s unhurried pace allowing plentiful harmonies and leisurely soloing.