The Hawketts

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About The Hawketts

The Hawketts' discography is extremely short, consisting of one 45-rpm single, but that one record is an inarguable classic -- "Mardi Gras Mambo," the A-side, was a major hit in the South, and has gone on to become a New Orleans staple, revived every year for the city's famous Mardi Gras carnival celebration. Formed in 1953, the Hawketts were a teenaged rhythm & blues band from the Crescent City, featuring Art Neville on lead vocals and piano, Alfred August on guitar, George Davis on alto sax, Morris Bechamin on tenor sax, Israel Bell and August Fleuri on trumpets, Carroll Joseph on trombone, and John Boudreaux on drums. Years after the fact, Boudreaux told a journalist, "We didn't know that a band was supposed to have a bass player," which helped give the group an unusual sound. The Hawketts soon developed a local following, and in 1955 New Orleans radio personality Ken Elliott (better known as Jack the Cat) arranged for them to record some material at the studio of New Orleans radio outlet WWEZ. One of the songs they recorded was "Mardi Gras Mambo," originally recorded as a country song by Jody Levens in 1953, but Neville's vocals and Boudreaux's subtle but insistent drumming gave the tune an easygoing Latin-influenced groove. Chess Records picked up the master of "Mardi Gras Mambo" b/w "Your Time's Up" for national release, and the record sold well in the South, becoming a major hit in Louisiana. However, the Hawketts' youth and inexperience worked against them in the long term; Chess didn't pressure them for another record, several members of the group soon lost interest after "Mardi Gras Mambo" fell from the charts, and Art Neville moved on to a solo career and a stint in the military before the Hawketts could record a follow-up. George Davis went on to a lengthy career as a producer, instrumentalist, and songwriter, while Art Neville would become one of the giants of New Orleans music as a member of the Meters, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, and the Neville Brothers. ~ Mark Deming

New Orleans, LA, United States
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