In a day’s work, the instrumental quartet Hawktail will make their debut at this year’s Savannah Music Festival. Three of their members performed in the inaugural Acoustic Music Seminar in 2012 and as the trio Haas Kowert Tice at the festival in 2016.
The group, reborn as Hawktail, has now extended to four acoustic musicians: Brittany Haas on fiddle, Paul Kowert on bass, Jordan Tice on guitar and newest member Dominick Leslie on mandolin.
To listeners who are familiar with bluegrass sound, Hawktail will be a delight to the genre. Despite being a new band, Hawktail is comfortable with who they are. Bringing in acoustic sounds and other musical elements, the band adheres to a quality that is distinctly their own while also sticking to bluegrass roots.
“Hawktail is a string band that plays original instrumental music,” said Tice. “Most of the music is based in the old-time and bluegrass traditions that we all come from, but we also incorporate elements from other forms of music into our palette — jazz harmony and improvisation, classical form and harmony, traditional folk dance rhythms from Sweden and Norway, as well as pop sensibilities and grooves.”
To listeners who aren’t familiar with Hawktail, their acoustic music will invoke the imagination.
“We just want them to have a good time,” Tice said. “We try to make the music clear and interesting enough so that they can enjoy it on their own terms without explanation. I guess getting listeners to just viscerally enjoy listening to our music is the goal.”
In their debut song “Unless,” Hawktail delivers spirit that resonates with the bluegrass tradition. The instrumentation, rhythm and varying tempo take the listener on a musical journey. The song sparks the imagination without having to use words to express it.
“We just try to create something that's interesting that ends in a different place than it began, a journey so to speak utilizing texture, harmony, rhythm and melody that we mess around with until it feels cohesive and clear in its development,” said Tice about “Unless.”
The band continues their timeless quality in another recent track titled “Abbzug.”
Both “Abbzug” and “Unless” will be featured on their upcoming debut album, “Unless.”
“Our new record comes out May 11, so we'll be touring the States a good bit as well as playing festivals and doing press stuff throughout the spring and summer. We're always writing and rehearsing, though, so another recording project isn't too far off,” said Tice.
Besides their solo set at 12:30 p.m. April 4 at the Morris Center, Hawktail will perform alongside The Barr Brothers in a double bill that night at 7:30 p.m.
For the festival, guitarist and vocalist Brad Barr and drummer Andrew Barr will be joined by pedal steel player Brett Lanier, keyboardist Lisa Moore and bassist Morgan Moore. The Barr Brothers made their SMF debut in 2015.