The Nighthawks, Rosslyn Mountain Boysat at The State Theatre

The Nighthawks
Rosslyn Mountain Boys

Genre: Country Rock / Electric Blues

Washington’s favorite bad boys, the Nighthawks are masters of electric Chicago Blues and the kings of sh*t kicking roadhouse rock. They’re not called America’s Best Bar Band for nothing…

The Nighthawks history is extensive, beginning in the ’70s when the band criss-crossed the country playing clubs and colleges then dominated by the sounds of country rock and disco. The band spread their version of roots rock, soul, rockabilly, and blues that was hardly the standard fare. In addition, the Nighthawks were considered touring pioneers, since only a handful of Chicago blues stars were touring nationally, and the west coast blues bands stayed on their side of the Great Divide.

In the 60’s Joe Tripplet was in the DC band The Hangmen and became a member of the counterculture band Claude Jones with Happy Acosta and Jay Sprague. That band shared a farm out in Warrenton with Grin and I’m sure that there are many tales of life on the farm from that amalgalm. Joe and Happy began performing as an acoustic duet calling themselves The Rosslyn Mt. Boys (RMB from here out) around 1971. In 1972 Peter Bonta joined the Nighthawks as their keyboard player. The Hawks have always been a roots oriented band not limiting themselves to straight blues and Peter was able to do some countryish numbers ala Charlie Rich with that band. In 1973 the RMB made a decision to go electric and invited Peter to come on board as bass player along with Bob Berberich on drums from Grin. When Jay Sprague also came aboard from Claude Jones, Peter was able to move over to keyboards and guitar. Add Tommy Hannum on pedal steel who had been working with Emmy Lou Harris in her days around DC and the RMB were set. The RMB predated the Flying Burrito Brothers and both followed the trail blazed by the Byrds. If the RMB had been west coast based like the Burritos, they may have broken through to a universal recognition. Even though they only toured on a mid-Atlantic circuit, their first album “The Rosslyn Mt. Boys” released in 1977 on Gene Rosenthal’s Adelphi label sold over 50,000 copies. They opened for and backed up stars like Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn and Buck Owens. One of Peter’s favorite memories is backing up Doug Sahm for a three day gig at DC’s famed Cellar Door. The RMB called it quits in 1979 and the members went in various directions. Peter was a member of Artful Dodger before opening his Wally Cleaver Studios in Fredericksburg, Tommy Hannum relocated to Nashville and has been working with Ricky van Shelton for a good while and Rico Petrocelli went on to work with Mary Chapin Carpenter. (Right On Rhythm)

Friday December 30
Doors: 7 PM
Showtime: 9 PM (Rosslyn Mt. Boys play first)
Tickets: $13 advance / $16 day of show