Silver Hawks:
flashback or revelation
December 1994

Depending on your age, the music played by the Silver Hawks could be a flashback or a revelation.

"We pretty much try to duplicate the music we played in the '60s and '70s," said saxophonist Mike Book. "We mostly use original instruments.

"But we try not to do music that every 'oldies' band is playing," he added. "We don't like to be classified as an oldies band, because we don't play what you hear on oldies radio. ... We're definitely not a doo-wop group."

Band members -- now mostly in their mid-30s to low 40s -- were all in local bands back in high school. Book and Dick Brubaker, former class and bandmates, were asked to reunite an old band for their 20th high school reunion.

"It worked very well, so we started to jam on weekends," Book said. "We brought more people in and the band continued to grow until we became what we are now."

The band has been drawing an audience mostly from within its own age group. But -- with monthly gigs at the Uptown and occasional Chameleon shows -- the younger set is slowly catching on to the new old sound.

"We're seeing younger faces in the crowd," Book said. "They seem to enjoy the music. They're certainly familiar with it."

Several band members have teenagers who have gotten hooked on the music, he said. More often than not, he said, the teens latch onto a group or a tune they think is a new release.

"The old music is the new music," Book said. "They're like, 'Wow, where did you find this?'"

A typical set includes dance and classic rock tunes like "Black Magic Woman," "Gloria," "Heat Wave," "Shout" and "Mony Mony." The band draws heavily from the playlists of Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, Santana, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. They also mix in some Motown and Memphis-style R&B, Book said. The band leans heavily on guitars and horns.

"We're in this because we love playing the music," he said. "We always have, and we don't want to stop."

interview by
Tom Knapp

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