A Hawk and a Hacksaw
The Tolbooth, Stirling, Sat 20 Jun; The Arches, Glasgow, Sun 21 Jun
The boisterous yet melancholy sounds of Eastern European folk music have long entranced Western musicians, from avant-jazzer John Zorn to indie-pop cosmopolitan Beirut. But few have gone as far as A Hawk and a Hacksaw in their exploration of Balkan roots. New Mexico native Jeremy Barnes and partner Heather Trost’s musical nomadism has taken them from the US and England to Prague, Romania and, most recently, Budapest. This isn’t to say A Hawk and a Hacksaw are an authentic Balkan folk band - their music also bears traces of Middle Eastern music, jazz, pop and minimalism – but it’s certainly the sound closest to their hearts.
That influence first surfaced on second album, Darkness at Noon, which saw Barnes picking up the accordion, and Trost contributing dervish-like violin. Since then, the duo have collaborated with the incredible gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia (on 2006’s The Way the Wind Blows) and Hungarian musicians Hun Hangar Ensemble, as well as Glasgow-based multi-instrumentalist Chris Hladowski, whose avant-folk project, The Family Elan, provide support on these dates.
Latest album Délivrance is A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s finest effort to date, combining traditional tunes with impressive originals. Greek dance rhythms and Mariachi horns drive Trost’s ‘Foni Tu Argile’, while the keening violin melody of ‘Lassu’ evokes Scottish fiddle music and Chinese opera. The expanded live band is a dazzling prospect – watch out, in particular, for Kalman Balogh, whose mastery of the dulcimer-like cimbalom should prove gloriously intoxicating.