Christopher Hawley and the Rollers
This past Sunday the Hotel Café
in Hollywood played host to the
eclectic styling of Venice based folk
artist Christopher Hawley. He was
accompanied for the evening, by bassist
John Reese, and djembe percussionist
Dramane. The venue's cavernous, and
softly resonant interior offered shelter
to patrons coming in from the glare of
an abnormally bright Sunday evening.
Sunday's incarnation of Christopher
Hawley and the Rollers took the stage,
and with each song they set to work
translating the sleepy, speakeasy attitude
found amongst th aimless, candle lit
conversations into new folk gold.
There is certain versatility in
every CHR song that allows for diverse
interpretations by varying ensembles.
A solid lineup doesn't exist for CHR;
they're much more an idea than what
you'd traditionally call a band. Despite
the Roller 's ever-changing band
makeup, however, Hawley's folkish,
rhythm & blues composition, and
general pursuit of happiness via Music
set the tone.
The title of "Roller" applies to the
creative persons that happen to cross
paths with Hawley, and contribute to
his unique brand of genuine, organic
musical expression. "The name is
perfect," says de facto Roller lovemando
(one word, all lower case according to
his passport), who serves as Hawley's
art director/roadie/whatever else needs
doing. "The Rollers are pretty much
whoever happens to be rolling with
Chris at the time."
It's a mishmash of horns, vivid
fretwork, approachable songwriting,
thumping bass, and percussion that
truly shines on his latest effort, "The Roots of the Tree". Fishbone's John
Stewart lends his talents on the drum
set establishing a solid foundation for
Hawley's masterful guitar work, and
smoky vocals. Tracks like "My Friends
and Me", and "Bank Robbing Man"
exhibit a bubbly harmony of rhythm
and melody that inspire a little extra
lift on the soles.
A CHR performance can be something
more than just heard. "In a word, the
Roller's atmosphere is inclusiveness,"
says MOCA grant writer Elizabeth
Jordan. During his set at the Hotel
Café, Hawley took a moment between
each song to recognize the crowd. He
beckons the audience to dance, sing
along, inviting them to be Rollers in
their own right.
Music has been a passion for Hawley
since he learned to play the guitar at the
age of twelve. He has been performing
both, solo and with bands, for over ten
years without support of any major
labels. "I don't have an agent," says
Hawley. "I've toured both America and
Europe (as an independent artist). The idea
that you can't support yourself by touring
is just not true." CHR's resilience gives
credence to the notion that artists will
continue to make good music, whether or
not it catches wind in the mainstream.