Hawktail — Brittany Haas, left, Jordan Tice, Paul Kowert and Dominick Leslie — will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Headwaters Room of the Geos Institute in Ashland. [Submitted photo]

Americana off the beaten path

Hawktail is known as Jordan Tice on guitar, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Paul Kowert on bass and Dominick Leslie on mandolin. But don't pigeon-hole them.

"We play a little bit of everything," Tice says during a phone interview. "I play a little mandolin, Brittany plays a little mandolin and guitar, Paul plays a little bit of everything, and Dominick switches between mandolin and octave mandolin."

The new band exists in a bluegrass-ish fiddle kind of world, Tice says.

"It's definitely influenced by fiddle traditions and the fiddle weighs heavily in the sound," he says. "We live in what you could loosely describe as the bluegrass world. It draws from those sources, but there are a lot of things happening. Sometimes it sounds jazzy, sometimes it sounds old-timey, sometimes it sounds like something from the British Isles, sometimes it's fast. It's all influenced by Americana and bluegrass but in all kinds of permutations."

Hawktail will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Headwaters Room of the Geos Institute, 84 Fourth St., Ashland. Tickets are $25, $15 for age 17 and younger, and can be purchased at Music Coop in Ashland, Hilltop Music in Phoenix, or by calling 541-552-1665.

Coming from different parts of the country, Tice, Haas, Kowert and Leslie found each other through their love of music.

"String music is a fairly tight-knit community, and we met each other at festivals and camps through that world," Tice says. "We independently sought it out. Brittany was out in California, Paul grew up in Wisconsin and went to school in Philadelphia, I grew up in Maryland and went to school there and Dominick grew up in Colorado and went to school in Boston.

"We all developed similar interests, then attended various festivals and camps; we met each other quickly and inevitably," he says.

Haas honed her fiddling skills at camps across the nation and began touring with Darol Anger's Republic of Strings at the age of 14. She's played with Yonder Mountain String Band, Tony Trischka, Aladair Fraser and Natalie Haas — her cellist-playing sister. She played on Steve Martin's Grammy Award-winning CD, "The Crow," and performed in his band on "Letterman" and "Saturday Night Live." Today, she also tours with Crook Still, Dave Rawlings Machine and the "Prairie Home Companion" house band.

Kowert joined Punch Brothers after graduating from Curtis Institute of Music in 2009. The band tours throughout the U.S., U.K. and Europe. He also tours with mandolin player Mike Marshall's Big Trio, Dave Rawlings and the "Prairie Home Companion" house band.

Leslie immersed himself in bluegrass and acoustic music at an early age, and he released his first solo album at age 15. He studied with mandolin masters Marshall, David Grisman and Chris Thile. He's toured with The Deadly Gentlemen, The Bee Eaters, the Grant Gordy Quartet, The Infamous Stringdusters, Tony Trischka and many more notable acts.

Tice also has performed with some of the biggest names in string music. He has four solo records of original music to his credit, his newest, "Horse County," released last year.

"We (Haas, Tice and Kowert) have toured for the last three years," Tice says. "We have a record called 'You Got This' that came out in 2014. We still play a lot of that music, along with traditional tunes and songs from different places, in our live shows, but our recorded output is all original instrumentals."

Dominick joined the others in June, playing a show at Jammin Java in May, Tice says.

"We wanted to see how it would work out. We were trying to figure out how to fill out our sound. We'd already recorded another record. We've recorded it three times," he says with a laugh. "The first time with just the three of us, the second time with various mandolin players and a drummer, and then we decided to ask Dominick to join the band and recorded it again with him.

"Mandolin provides a hard edge, a certain percussion element," he says. "That's what we felt we needed in our music. We have no shortage of melodic instruments between the guitar and violin. Dominick is a particularly well-rounded player. He can do a lot of different things, and the music that we play is a lot of different things. He was the obvious choice, personally and musically.

"It's a huge step forward and now that it's happened, we've changed our name and everything, it's like, 'Duh, why didn't we do that like a year ago?'"

Hawktail plans to release the new album early next year.

Share This Story