What's In Your Fridge: David Hawkes

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      What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz Ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators. 

      On the grill

      David Hawkes.

      Who are you

      I'm David Hawkes,  producer, creator, and host of The Creators TV show on Shaw TV, where we spotlight musicians, artists, and builders of our entertainment industry. I think we all need to support each other in making Vancouver more artistically rich and I think it is important for all of us to nourish our musicians and artists and to celebrate those that have supported the arts and do so every day. That is the purpose of the show. I hope we all work hard to prove Andy Warhol's words wrong that he wrote in his diary on November 24, 1976: "Vancouver for my Ace Gallery opening there. Nobody in Vancouver buys art, though—they’re not interested in painting."

      I was inspired musically at a young age by my father, who was a great pianist who used to play at the Cave and Commodore. He played with some greats like Sarah Vaughan, Mitzi Gaynor, and more. He also was a barbershop singer and I saw him in his quartet perform in front of packed QE Theatres. Honestly I wasn't a fan of barbershop, but I liked the vibe of being around and learned that others did, so maybe that's where I learned compassion for all music. Music and theatre in school really sparked my interest and I thank music and arts programs in school for letting me discover the arts. In early '80s I worked on sound systems in NY for Area, Paradise Garage, Limelight, Danceteria, Studio 54, and more. I then went on to a DJ, radio programmer/DJ, venue managing, and booking career! Highlights include being one of seven people to conceptualize and launch CBC Radio 3, recording and producing Tom Waits, helping launching XFM and CFOX, being on Coast 800/1040, spinning music for years at Luv-A-Fair, Graceland, and other venues, and winning the Georgia Straight best-DJ award for three years. 

      First concert

      Truthfully, I think my first live-music experience may have been when, in Grade 2, our music teacher took us on a field trip to see The Marriage of Figaro at the QE Theatre. For anyone that may read this, do not think that doing that for a two-year-old kid does not, or could not, make a difference in their life. It absolutely had me hooked. From that moment on, I wanted to be around music, be around entertainment, and do that!

      Or was it...

      Our family was on Gabriola Island for our annual summer holidays—we went there most of my years growing up. One day, my sisters and my parents stopped on a piece of farmer’s land where there was a Yippie Concert with musicians playing on a small, wooden flat stage—lots of tie-dyed T-shirts, blue smoke, hula-hoops, jugglers, and stoners wandering around on acid, methinks. I think the music was folk. As a kid I thought it was a little weird, but I remember it being colourful, fun, and I liked the music.

      My real first concert was Led Zeppelin at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on July 18, 1973. I was probably way too young to be there but was taken by my sister, as my parents had to go out somewhere and said to my sister, who had a ticket, that "You either stay home and babysit your brother or take him to the show." So she did! I remember it being very loud and having a clear moment—during the trippy, spaced-out portion of “Dazed & Confused”—of looking at the back of a sea of leather jackets (we were standing on floor) and there being lots of pot smoke. Suddenly, a stoner dude with a beard turned around to me and looked me in the eyes and said, "Are you okay little buddy?" I said I was and he said, "Right on!" I felt scared at first, then felt really cool and safe there. Here's a link to the set list for that exact show.

      Life-changing concert

      Probably seeing Queen’s A Night at the Opera tour was my most mind-blowing concert I have witnessed. Of course, when they came back and did the News of the World concert I was there too, and that solidified my feeling for all time that Freddie Mercury is the best frontman I have ever seen live. I was so fortunate to have seen them in the prime of their career. And if I'm honest with myself, my favourite guitar player is still Brian May, I think. Imagine, these Queen shows were when songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are the Champions” were even new to the band, so when they performed them at these shows, they were trying to still win fans over for the albums and the songs. So they delivered the songs in performance with huge energy and an edge. 

      Apparently, in speaking to Dee Lippingwell (famous Vancouver rock photographer), who actually was shooting that show and was backstage, Freddie and the band had a fight the night of the A Night at the Opera show, as Freddie was pissed off about the show and the crowd. At the end of the show, two young girls were waiting for an autograph by the stage door and he pushed them aside, crushing one of their autograph books, making the girl cry. He then went and sat in the band limousine and didn't say anything. But the rest of the band came out, took photos with the girls, and calmed them down, and then they left. As Dee said, "Freddie was troubled." 

      I have to tip my hat to David Bowie with Peter Gabriel and the Tubes at BC Place. Me and three friends, crushed not more than three metres from centre stage, sucking water out of the bar cloths they dipped in buckets of water and threw into the crowd. Close, very close, to deadly. We got the idea to start twirling the cold rags over our heads, which then caught on, to the extent David Bowie leaned towards us and looked right at me and my friends and mimicked us twirling the towels, then campily pranced away. We thought we had made eye contact and had (nearly) touched the hand of the God of Music. Closest I have been to being crushed to death for music, but worth it.

      Other notable shows were Joe Jackson at the PNE Gardens, Radiohead at 86 Street (a radio promo show with the Foo Fighters), Underworld at Hollywood, Placebo in NYC, Wire at the Town Pump, and, on one bill in New York, Tribe, De La, Bambaataa, Digital U, Queen L.

      Top three records

      First of all... Are you frickin' kidding me? Three? There's more items on a Big Mac... WITHOUT BACON! So, so, so hard to list three... So how about three I CANNOT NOT mention.

      David Bowie Aladdin Sane  For the piano solo in “Aladdin Sane”, the vocals in “Lady Grinning Soul”, and the swing, camp, hooky-ness and sexuality of the record. Major Tom had landed and had firmly placed his shiny glam boots across our necks and sang at us, "Listen, damn it." This is high art. The album art is something most every musician can relate to. The cover art is truly iconic. Below is a photo of me in St. Paul's in the Vatican, Rome, on the day David Bowie died, wearing the shirt emblazoned with his Aladdin Sane image that I bought at his retrospective in Berlin the previous summer. I think he may have liked that I wore it, or hated it, but either way, I think he might have laughed.

      Clash London Calling  If I had to pick a piece of vinyl growing up that was so thin from playing it over and over this is it. My favourite people to talk to about music are not musical snobs, but appreciate (at least) why different music appeals to different people. They respect that some people like some things and some like other things. London Calling had enough influences that it widened my appreciation of other genres and was laden with humour, camp, politically questioning lyrics, and more hooks on an album than some artists would hope to have in their entire career. As my best friend that introduced me to the record says, "What else is cooler?”

      Queen A Night at the Opera or Sheer Heart Attack  Conceptually, these two records blew my mind. The sequencing took us on a journey, sometimes on sweeping higher plains, sometimes to the lowlands of introspection, exploring genres like opera, rock, blues, skiffle, heavy rock, and acoustic genius—it is all there. I had cut-outs from my Queen guitar-chord book in my high-school locker. They seemed like they were from another place, another world entirely. They really taught me to analyze and reach out to music. For all you producers out there, you know what I mean when I say, "Just listen to these records!" WOW! It was also new and different. Stress on different. Queen were their own. I don't think I even knew, considered, or thought about Freddie's sexuality—I just thought he was super-human. And if you ever saw him live, you know what I mean... He really was. Queen explored their own sounds. They wrote "No synthesizers!" on their records, not because they hated them, but because they could re-create outer space, otherworldly sounds and vibes on their records without them. Kind of like, "We're so fucking awesome, listen to what we can do. Were going to blow your brains out." And man, did they ever. 

      All-time favourite video

      Yes I know this is supposed to be a one choice thing but I have three (not in any order), so I'll be brief.

      Smiths “How Soon Is Now?”  Was there a more moody, dirgy, haunting record at the time? Has an F ever sounded so good—for seven minutes? This song immediately blasts me to Eastern Europe. Listen—to all of it. Groove, vocals, guitar wash, beats—all on-point. Like scraping the leftover pills off a sticky floor in a Kreuzberg night klub with a K. Stylistically cold-war, bone-chilled, and, of course, the woman we all fell in love with. I was lucky to hang out with Johnny Marr when he was in Vancouver once and I thanked him for it. He smiled. The story on making the single is a good one. 

      Joy Division “Atmosphere”  Epic tribute. Sweeping, ethereal. Stunning. 

      Will Powers "Adventures Is Success"  Will Powers being a moniker for celebrity photographer Lynn Goldsmith, who did this as more of an art project to run in galleries. But it caught on likely because of the video being added to one of the video-tape compilations that was circulated to the alternative and new-music clubs by Video Pool company Rockamerica. It also helped that musical contributions on the track and record had an all-star lineup, including Sting, Nile Rodgers, Steve Winwood, Carly Simon, and Todd Rundgren. The vocals were Lynn's, which were pitched down to sound male. I loved the message in the video, basically that it's up to you to "make it happen", but she said it was truthfully done to poke fun and send a big "Fuck you" to all the self-help entrepreneurs of the time that were making a buck off people's weaknesses.

      What’s in your fridge

      I was going to try and be clever and say, "The body parts of radio brass that don't hire people with real musical taste and don't let those with taste (like the DJs they should hire) exercise their taste in music, thus progressing music in an artfully expressionistic and leading direction." But I thought it might be too snarky and might be misread like I was hinting about something or bitter (ha ha ha), so...my official answers below are a bit more polite...

      Apple cider vinegar. A couple crushed garlic cloves, teaspoon of nutritional yeast, and some apple cider vinegar mixed in small quantities in a small cup and mixed into wild greens makes a zesty and healthy salad. And if you hate the person you are eating with, simply throw some in their eyes and you'll have time to get out of the country before they can see again.

      Bottarga di Tonno. I fell in love with this since I began going to—and eventually living in—Sicily. Bottarga di Tonno is the Italian name for this delicacy of salted, cured fish roe, typically of the grey mullet or bluefin tuna. Though you can get similar versions from other fish—tonno (tuna) or pesce spada (swordfish)—are the best. For some, this is an acquired taste. Try grating some over pasta like it was parmagiana. If you want to add another level of seafood richness and complexity to your food and you are not afraid of some "good stank" in your food, try this out. I mean, who doesn't like a little stank once in a while...if you catch my...um...drift?

      Castelvetrano olives. From the small town/commune of Castelvetrano in the western Sicilian province of Trapani. I fell in love with these while visiting and living in Sicilia! Usually dolce (sweet), they are from the nocerella del belice varietal. Bright green, buttery, sometimes a bit sweet, meaty and light. One of the only foods that, when I taste it, transports me directly into the golden sun of Sicilia. Pop a couple of these in your jowels and you can pretend to talk like Don Vito Corleone... Or, if you want to be more respectful of the good people of Sicilia—who really wish we'd all get over the frickin' stereotype of them all being in the Mafia—just eat them and shut the fuck up.

      Check out The Creators here.