Equal parts ZZ Top and Ursula Le Guin, the Quaker City Night Hawks are continuing the musical renaissance of central Texas. Hailing from Ft. Worth, the “cow town” has reemerged on the musical map with the breakout success of hometown artist Leon Bridges. Quaker City Night Hawks released their first full-length album El Astronauta in May of 2016 on Lightning Rod Records. Telluride is lucky enough to have the quartet take the main stage on Sunday during the Ride Festival.
Comprised of Patrick Adams (Electric Bass/Vocals), Samuel Anderson (Rhythm Electric Guitar/Vocals), Matt Mabe (Drums/Vocals), and David Matsler (Lead Electric Guitar/Vocals), the band blends hard Rock n’ Roll, Texas boogie, Memphis soul and sci-fi inspiration. They get weird in the best way on their new album.
"This whole record sums up that feeling when you finally start to realize that you've been surrounded by bullshit… It's immense and depressing at first to understand that things aren’t the way people told you they would be growing up, but coming out the other side, you see everybody else is in the same boat. We've been lied to for a long time, but now it's time to figure it out and move on and do something about it."- Anderson.
The album opens with “Good Evening,” heavy on distortions and swamp rock mood, and sets the tone for the rest of the record. “Liberty Bell 7” captures the Night Hawks space-age take on current issues. US-Mexico border relations are re-imagined from the eyes of a “space coyote,” who’s smuggling illegal immigrants on and off the planet. "Liberty Bell 7" is named for the NASA space mission from 1961.
"At the time, it was the furthest into space that anything had gone… Upon reentry, it crashed into the ocean and filled with water and sunk down to the bottom. This thing had been as far out into space as you could go and as deep down into the ocean you could go, and that's how the narrator of the song feels, he's been as far out and as low down as you can get." -Anderson, a huge space travel junkie.
If the sci-fi Texas band wasn’t inspired enough for you, let’s throw in some Mark Twain. The band’s name is inspired by the author’s book, The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim’s Progress. In the book, Twain and other Americans set out aboard the ship Quaker City, traveling to Europe and the Holy Land. The passengers are of varying religious backgrounds and the voyage is tense. The only time the group refrains from fighting is when they meet at night to play cards, smoke and drink. The gathering becomes collectively known as the Night Hawks.
America finds itself on the proverbial Quaker City vessel, struggling to get along and find commonality among conflicting opinions. I hope you can make it to the Quaker City Night Hawks performance this Ride Festival and have a moment of reprieve from the squabbling. They take the main stage 12:15-1:10 p.m. on Sunday, July 15th in Town Park.