Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Ginny Hawker
Saturday, Oct. 2, 12:30pm
Rooster Stage
Review by Nick Dedina

Hazel Dickens believed in Ginny Hawker so much that she got the West Virginian's professional career started, going so far as taking her out on stage and standing next to her holding her hand tight the entire time she sang on stage for the first time. Then this year, Emmylou Harris recommended Ginny Hawker for our festival, which pretty much guaranteed that the bluegrass belter from Elkins, V.W. was going to San Francisco.

Hawker immediately illustrated why Dickens and Harris had such faith in her by coming out and singing "Turtle Dove" a cappella, kicking in with a big, wide-open voice that is as deep as it is powerful. A fiddle player joins Hawker halfway through and the rest of the band comes out for a really satisfying mix of acoustic styles from bluegrass to Appellation folk to country ballads (a lot of credit should go to Tracy Shwartz, who doubles as Mr. Hawker, and leads the crackerjack group). Hawker shows her mettle in classic balladry with a tender reading of George Jones' "The Day I Lose My Mind," and "Lost Patterns," a lovely Hazel Dickens number. The tempo goes into high gear with "Long Black Limousine," which was colored by a touch of grief when Hawker let the audience know it was written by an American soldier in Germany who never made it home (a big theme at this years festival).

Hawker was blessed with a great band and an easygoing, personal manner on stage even going into a story and song about a specialty of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain before launching into a barnstorming, upbeat revival meeting Gospel tune called "God's Not Dead." Ginny Hawker's disarming mix of low-key charm and fiery talent is so satisfying that this should be the first of many appearances at the festival.

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