Crowe-ing: Big time rockers plant the seeds

Hookah Brown
at the Outback Lodge
Wednesday, April 16

Aaron Hawkins Exhibit / Snap!
at the Starr Hill Music Hall
Friday, April 18

What exactly is "underground?" Some folks think the term means obscure, small time, or even not accessible. But underground is like the seed of an apple-­ it must exist before the fruit appears. The underground can be the style that influences the mainstream, or what is created in the mainstream's wake, just as a seed can grow into a fruit which then dies and leaves seeds to yield more fruit.

Take Hookah Brown, the new project put together by Black Crowes co-founder and guitarist Rich Robinson. He was, arguably, the musical backbone of the group but didn't get the notoriety of frontman Chris Robinson.

On April 16, big time rock and roll compacted into the walls of the Outback, and it couldn't have been better. Hookah Brown sounded like gold as they pounded out creatively arranged tunes with enough soul and grit to go around the room four times.

Honestly, I get bored easy at rock shows, but there was something different here. This was the rock underground-­ the wake of the Black Crowes– something different and more raw.

After rocking straight without a set break, the band left the stage, only to return with an encore ballad played on Indian string instruments. I honestly wish that more people had seen this show. Then again, there was something special about enjoying the performance with hardcore fans and not just those who came because of a name.

The underground reared its head again the following Friday at Aaron Hawkins' photography and art exhibit at Starr Hill Music Hall. My hat is off to Aaron, who somehow manages to juggle more professions than most people have pairs of jeans. Even more impressive, he's extremely gifted in just about whatever he gets his hands into.

Over the last few months he has been shooting acts coming through Starr Hill. You can thank him for the looming Frank Black over your head in the dinner area while you try to eat an appetizer. The photography gives life to the downstairs area and draws the essence of venue into the bar/restaurant. Following the exhibit was a hip-hop/jungle dance party with incredible selections by DJ Dirty Hans, Aktion, and emcee Shadowman.

I don't know how he put the evening together, but he put it together right. Congratulations, Aaron, you really help keep this underground culture alive.