Portland, Oregon - a town with its own rhythm and a pulsing night beat like no other. Clubs near the shores of the Willamette River throb with the Rose City’s rich musical culture – giving rise to many an unsung hero.
From the seamy, lamp-lit glow of Ash Street on the City’s West side, Shawn Hawkins first fronted his stripped down rockabilly outfit. With the hiccup and shake of Memphis tradition, he rekindled an age of Carl Perkins and other legendary Sun rockers. Hair slicked back and sharply dressed in pin striped suits, he called upon the mellow airs of a saxophone to round off the bands rough edges, and formed Northwest swing sensation - The StoodUps!. Cradling a vintage Shure 55 and huffing a blues harp, Hawkins took his swanky quintet to new levels, finally crescendoing into a seven piece combo. Filling barstools and dance floors – The fabulous StoodUps! left an indelible impression on the Portland music scene. A restless artist, Shawn’s talents seem to have no boundaries. Even the hopped up genius of The StoodUps! couldn’t keep pace with his prolificacy.
Like a railway drifter, he hopped the next creative freight train – finding inspiration in the swaggered crooning of Outlaw Country. Picking a 12 string guitar, songs fell effortlessly from his fingertips and laid the foundation for Shawn Hawkins and the Offenders. His are tales of mournful regrets – memories and phantoms of love gone astray…stories which can only be told by a man who lives life from a suitcase. Wailing - teetering on rock’s ledge - or gently playing with somber indifference, Shawn strummed his way along the dusty back roads of Country’s grassroots. Powerful and soothing, his honky-tonk is the desolate roadhouse stage…a rustic watering hole where Waylon Jennings sits in the background – nodding in approval. But with a distant look in his eye, somewhere in the windswept fields of his mind…times were changing.
Taken by the tides of his nomadic arrangements, Shawn entered darker, deeper realms of timeless inspiration. Dragging bow along the flexing length of a wood saw, weeping melodies cried out, ushering in a melancholy, almost sinister era. With haunting, sobbing notes - enter Ashcan Orchid, spinning it’s gothic tango as onlookers hypnotically spiraled into unrehearsed La Volta. Weaving eerie veils of wisping lace, a sultry banjo’s distant waltz echoes like shadows in black mangroves. Werewolves prowl in moon drenched verse - and the grimace of the Undertaker becomes a soothing mask of comfort among tales of sorrow and deeds most foul.
Shawn Hawkins is an anomaly in today’s world of arts and entertainment – creating an eclectic pastiche of American music. He is a modern minstrel – bending the confines of musical genres with a natural, confident ease. A composer of limitless scope, his songs are reflections of an in inner wanderlust…mirror images of an old soul in search of something he may never find. Sharing the stage with many talents, from David Allen Coe to The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – The HeadCat, to Dale Watson, he delivers songs with his own honest, charismatic approach. Equally comfortable surrounded by a collective of amazing talent, or with a single instrument and soulful voice, he’ll take you beyond the moment – beyond the now. Let Shawn Hawkins’ music unravel in your world and celebrate one of the Pacific Northwest’s unsung heroes.
~ Shane Stuart, Author - TruckPunk