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The High Hawks: A super group that’s not a super group

Fiddle player Tim Carbone does not like the term “super group.” Often used to describe a group of musicians who have joined forces as a band outside of their individual, solid and successful solo or band endeavors, it’s a term of endearment some of the more modest musicians may want to brush off. A marketing descriptor thrown around by crafty press and promoters, it’s a way to popularize a newly formed band by capitalizing on its members’ past musical accomplishments.

You could call The High Hawks a “super group,” but you could also just call them a “group” or even “band,” because that’s what they are, and it just so happens that their members have had musical success outside of the art they create as The High Hawks.

The group will perform in Durango next Thursday at The Animas City Theatre.

The High Hawks, who are Carbone, Vince Herman, Chad Staehly, Adam Greuel, Brian Adams and Will Trask, are considered a “super group” because of previous band success in the jam and festival world – their full-time gigs being in the bands Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Hard-Working Americans, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Dead Phish Orchestra and Great American Taxi.

However, to Carbone, they’re simply a band, not a “super group.”

“I hate that term. I understand what it is, you know, I understand the reason for the term and what the term seeks to achieve, mostly in a promotional situation. But we’re just a band,” he said. “I think we’re a band like any other band, we just happen to have people in the band that are in other bands of various popularity. What is super anyway? I don’t get it.”

If you go

WHAT: Rock and jam with The High Hawks.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday. (Doors open at 7 p.m.)

WHERE: Animas City Theatre, 128 E. College Drive.

TICKETS: $30. Available online at https://bit.ly/43ZjyKd.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.animascitytheatre.com.

All of the members have moved about the same musical circles for years. When Carbone’s not on stage, you’ll likely find him in the studio; with 80 production credits to his name, he’s had a hand in the making of many of his High Hawks bandmates other projects. Herman, Staehly and Greuel had been working up a new group, and asked Carbone to perhaps play on the fiddle in it, but he wanted all the way in. That was their humble beginning.

“We had a bunch of shows booked in Colorado, that was kind of our birthplace. So, I went to Vince’s house when he lived outside of Nederland, and we rehearsed and everybody brought a bunch of songs. I had brought a bunch of songs that I had written, and we made a whole concert setlist and we went and played like four shows with the songs that we worked out in a day’s time, and we loved it,” Carbone said. “And people really got off on it, so we decided we were going to continue. So, we went into the studio and made a record.”

That self-titled record dropped in 2021, a roots record that dances around blues and country rock with plenty of boogie and jam that is stretched out in the live setting. Carbone sees the whole band as a ship, and he’s the man with his hand on the rudder.

A solid side project, it’s an inspirational and influential part-time job that he holds outside of his full-time gig in Railroad Earth, and his many hours behind a console as a sought-after producer in the roots-jam world.

“This is just another element of my musical personality,” he said.

It’s also a lot of fun, a chance to make some great music with some of your best buddies.

“We’re super-great friends, and we have a blast,” Carbone said.

The High Hawks are currently also working on their sophomore release, which will drop later in 2023.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.