Wednesday 21 November 2018

Pete Hawkes Biography

 Pete Hawkes Biography
"Hawkes was born in 1965 in Australia at Lake Maquarie, Newcastle. He learnt to play guitar from an old waterlogged guitar nicknamed "The Paddle" named so because his father had got drunk one night out on the lake when he was young and used it as a paddle to get home.He learnt guitar by listing to old vinyl recordings siting his early influences from Blues legend Robert Johnson and English guitarist Davey Graham. Hawkes started gigging as early as 17 years of age, playing electric slide guitar in Chicago style blues bands gigging at clubs and pubs in and around Lake Maquarie and Newcastle city. He quickly gained a reputation as a fine slide player and was soon invited into session work across Australia. In his early 20's Hawkes relocated to Tasmania when he studied the art of instrument making, first under Tasmanian luthier Strato Anagnostis and then later, for a much longer time under the luthier Neil Laughlin.

On his return from Tasmania he completed a degree in pure mathematics from the University of Newcastle and moved to the ACT the following year. While in Canberra Hawkes performed at the National Folk Festival and one of his songs 'A Housewife's Lament' (a song about the sacrifices of a woman bringing up children who is treated poorly by her partner and decides to start again at an older age) received enormous attention from audiences and then continued to receive attention in forthcoming venues every time it was played. In the mid-1990s he recorded his debut album, Secrets Vows and Lies, with the notorious Dave Swarbrick guesting on a few tracks on fiddle.Released by Festival Records, the album was well received with Australian respected music critic Bruce Elder noting many of the tracks on this "outstanding record" are reminiscent of John Martyn and Nick Drake in their heyday.Included in the album was the now very popular and well known track 'A Housewife's Lament' but the album was already starting to show Hawkes diversity and melding of musical genres and styles, as the album contained tracks that had cello with folk blues, original Celtic style tracks (such as 'The Irish Ladies Dream'), classical type cello tracks that might be more familiar in a baroque or concerto piece and then more delta type acoustic blues. The album tended to incorporate a more classical mix, strings into acoustic folk music that, at times, often had rare insights into the human condition.

Never really lusting for fame and fortune and remaining a composer rather than entertainer, Hawkes actively sought to negate the opportunities for stardom when they came, preferring to play small clubs and venues and spend his time writing his often complex and ‘bitterly beautiful’ compositions as Jeb Tyler describes them. After his debut album, the critically acclaimed folk blues album Secrets Vows and Lies released on Festival Records in 1996, with and England’s notorious fiddler Dave Swarbrick guesting on a few tracks, Hawkes relocated to London, the album had sold poorly in Australia and Hawkes was despondent following a relatively unsuccessful tour. In London he briefly reconnected again with Swarbrick and friends in Coventry, and on the odd occasion supported Swarbrick and Carthy and other notable acts in northern England. Hawkes then started playing in small clubs and hotels throughout Europe, moving deeper and deeper into far Europe and finally into Russia. Making St Petersburg his home, he lived there for several months, playing Jazz with local musicians and gypsies.

Following the release Pete embarked on an Australian tour during in which he supported bands and artists such as Steeleye Span and Bert Jansch,but the tour was largely unsuccessful and Pete, despondent decided to move to London. In the UK the album was released on Select Records with more success and Hawkes started playing in small clubs and hotels throughout Europe, moving deeper and deeper into far Europe and finally into Russia. Staying in Russia and making St Petersburg his home, he lived there for several months, playing Jazz with local musicians and gypsies. Hawkes left Russia via the Trans-Siberian Railway, stopping at Beijing he quickly became involved in the underground Jazz developments in the city. Playing in venues like the 'East -Shore Jazz Club' he encouraged many Chinese Jazz musicians to play their music and not what was dictated to them by party officials. Hawkes quickly became an attraction to many Chinese musicians, Jazz however in those days was not the accepted norm and Hawkes 'interference' caught the eyes of the local authorities and he was promptly asked to board the next plane and return to Australia.

On his subsequent return to Oz, Hawkes released a number of remarkable musical works including Unspoken Riddles, the Russian flavoured Melancholy Cello and the brilliant Double Diversity, considered now a landmark album of its time.Hawkes focused on composing rather than performing on his return to Australia and relocated to Melbourne in 2003 and began to compose and arrange a large quantity of musically different works. In 2006 he released Witchcraft, an evocative suite of beautiful orchestral music and then a jazz album, The Jazz Chronicles In 2007. Then in 2009, in stark contrast to the style on previous albums, he released an extended gothic rock adventure, The Lost Souls Entwined with world renown electric guitar virtuoso Phil Emmanuel. (the elder brother of Tommy Emmanuel),a spooky eerie album, featuring both Hawkes slide guitar skills and Emmanuel's electric virtuosity, it was supposedly played out in the graveyard of Pete and Phil's favourite artists as a dedication to Eva Cassidy, Danny Gatton and Nick Drake who had never received any recognition of their talent while alive.

In more recent years Hawkes has continued to write and compose numerous musical works as varied as concerto's for viola and cello to Celtic music with flugehorn to acid Jazz. Some of his more recent albums (from 2010 on) include The Sacred Blasphemy Violin Concerto (Released: 5 March 2010 on the Catapult label), An Interpretation Of Vivaldi-Concerto Grosso in D-minor, Op. 3 No. 11 RV 565 (Released: 25 August 2010 on Catapult, composed Vivaldi, String Quartet Arrangement Hawkes), Pete Hawkes & Phil Emmanuel : Live At Lizottes With Special Guest Fiddler Liz Gormley (Released: 14 August 2011, Catapult), Selections Of Classical & Jazz Works (Released: 3 February 2012), A Little Tribute To Satchmo (Released: 24 January 2012), Songs Of Gypsy Russia (Deluxe Album Version.Released: 21 September 2011 on Catapult), Dr. Jekyl & Mr Slyde (Slide Guitar Masterpieces, Released: 17 January 2012 on Catapult) and Ghost Whispers (Released: 12 April 2013)
The Texas based Catapult label has now released a significant number of Hawkes's recordings, including classical compositions, Jazz recordings, original Russian folk inspired music, retrospectives, compilations and other additional releases of his works.

CD Cover Collection