Looking at Jason Hawk Harris at first glance you might not take much in. Sure he’s tall, dark and handsome, but if you look closer you can see the lines of a scar above his left eye. Then you listen to his songs and realize that the scars aren’t just on his face, they’re internal as well. If you read his official bio it almost sounds like a Shakespearean tragedy. Losing his mother to complications from alcoholism, a father who went bankrupt being sued by the King of Morocco, a sister diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and a nephew with cerebral palsy. Add a battle with addiction to this and it’s a wonder Jason pulled through this, much less made an album in the midst of it, but he did and it’s a phenomenal piece of work.
I couldn’t help but think while listening to Jason during his set that his manner of speaking, his wit and his songwriting made me think of another talented songwriter who shares the same first name, Jason Isbell. I don’t make comparisons like that lightly and I don’t always feel the need to compare one artist to another, but in this case I thought it was fitting. Jason Hawk Harris seems older than his 30 some odd years and his songwriting on Love & The Dark is a perfect example of that. Perhaps this is due in part to all he’s experienced so early in life, but it also makes for heart-wrenching lyrics, like those of the song, “Phantom Limb.”
“I feel your fingers comb through my hair
Open my eyes and there’s no one there
Then I feel the weight of a phantom limb
I call out to you
But you don’t say shit
And I’m crying again
Mother, you’re dead
Mother, you’re dead, dead, dead
Mother, you’re dead
“Phantom Limb” was part of the set on this particular night, as was “Confused”, “Smoke and the Stars”, “Grandfather” and “I’m Afraid”, a somewhat disturbing, yet hilarious tune about a friend that was terrified of a framed painting of Jesus that his mother hung on his bedroom wall. The night was not without a couple of covers, one being a well-executed rendition of Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and the other, “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” by Buck Owen. On this particular evening, Jason was backed by Dominic Martinez on the stand-up bass, Leeann Skoda on the guitar and Philip Glenn on violin, all contributing mightily to making this a stellar night of music.
On this particular night, were two artists opening for Jason. Normally on a Sunday night this doesn’t happen, but it did this evening and both artists really added to an already fantastic bill. Up first was Mike Frazier, who hails from Virginia. Mike released his second studio album, Where the Valley Kissed the Sky, in May of last year. His set included a few songs from that album, including “Southern Decay” and “Wedding Day”. His set ended with a nod to Woody Guthrie with his rendition of “All You Fascists Bound to Lose”.
Next was Jake Flint, fresh from Musicfest and a staple in the local music scene. Jake just released his new self-titled album and many of the songs from his set are on his new album, including “ Fireline,” “Hurry Up and Wait” and “Cold in This House.” Jake has a red-dirt feel with rock undertones at time and backed by Mike Satawake on this night, easily took command of the stage, filling the dive bar with his unique sound.
If you’re in the Tulsa area, you’ll want to check the schedule for the Mercury Lounge. They’re constantly adding shows to their calendar and the last six months have proven to be some of the best booking they’ve done in the last few years. You can find them here:
For more information on the artists you can find links to their websites here:
Jason Hawk Harris: