“The reward is in the work, the journey, keeping odd hours, meeting strangers, seeing new things; those are the perks—the awakenings.” –Eric Hisaw
2018 the Eric Hisaw Band releases Street Lamp, a collection of seven Hisaw originals and a timely cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet’s 1970 classic “Revolutionary Ways”. Recorded outside San Antonio in rural Boerne, Texas, by Shawn Sahm, the tracks are built on the group’s live arrangements with touches of organ by Sahm and the accordion of TexManiac Josh Baca. Intentionally sparse and raw the album frames Hisaw’s storytelling lyrics in rough hewn Stones influenced rockers with nods to Bakersfield twang and South Texas soul.
Hisaw along with bassist/harmony vocalist Neal Walker and drummer Jimmy Milner hit the studio well prepared after several months of steady gigging. “It was perfect timing,” says Hisaw. “Neal and Shawn go way back and Shawn was looking for some projects to record in his studio. We had been playing a lot, traveling, listening to records together in the van and performing these songs for all kinds of people on all kinds of stages”.
The gritty opener “Hurry it Up” is a cynical look at young romance with Chuck Berry guitar licks and a cowbell driven beat. The title track, “Street Lamp”, recasts the romanticism of a Drifters or Dion style ballad in a desert southwest landscape. “Clouds” is a swaggering tribute to a fallen friend on the rock’n’roll highway, while “Desert Sun” crosses Keith Richards balladry with characters straight out of the Last Picture Show. The tempo kicks back up with “Little Piece of You” a T-Rex style rocker with some Nuggets worthy vox organ. “So Close” quiets down with a meditative bolero beat and some tasty accordion fills supporting a plaintive lyric of social anxiety and romantic uncertainty. Merle Haggard gets a tip of the hat in the two stepping tale of generational divide “Rez Radio”. The disc closes out with Doug Sahm’s “Revolutionary Ways” taken one step further in to the garage with some Attractions by way of Augie organ pounding and a teenage Dave Davies inspired guitar solo.
It’s been several years since Hisaw’s last album, Ghost Stories, but the songwriter/guitarist was far from musically idle. His fretwork has appeared on tracks by Ron Flynt (20/20), Rich Hopkins (Sidewinders), The Footnotes and Javier Escovedo (Zeros). Hisaw spent a few years touring consistently with Seattle country folk rockers Zoe Muth and the Lost Highrollers as well as filling the guitar slot for a host of hard working Austin songwriters.
At an event in San Antonio honoring the late Doug Sahm Hisaw crossed paths with bassist Neal Walker a veteran of hard rocking San Antonio super group Tex-Mex Experience and as the two talked music and politics playing together seemed a natural fit. Playing out as the Eric Hisaw Band quickly became a focus and gigs and the eventual recording fell in to place. Several great drummers have held down the beat, Jimmy Milner a regular on the Austin scene in the chair for the recording.