A Hawk and a Hacksaw is a band from Albuquerque, New Mexico, currently signed to L.M. Dupli-cation. The band consists of accordionist Jeremy Barnes, who was previously the drummer for Neutral Milk Hotel and Bablicon, and violinist Heather Trost. The music is inspired by Eastern European, Turkish and Balkan traditions, and is mostly instrumental.
The band's self-titled first album (released in 2002) provided the soundtrack for the documentary Zizek!, directed by Astra Taylor, which features Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek. Darkness at Noon (released in 2004), was the band's second release, and was recorded in England, the Czech Republic and New Mexico. It was during the recording of this album that Barnes met Trost.
In 2005, the band met Zach Condon of the band Beirut and gave his bedroom recordings to the small independent label, Ba Da Bing Records. They also played on the first Beirut album, Gulag Orkestar. The band's third record, The Way the Wind Blows (released in 2006), was partially recorded in the small Romanian village of Zece Prajini, and features members of the brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia. In 2007 they were awarded a grant by the CMN branch of the UK arts council, which enabled them to do a collaborative tour of the UK with the Hungarian folk group The Hun Hangár Ensemble. Barnes and Trost ended up staying in Budapest for 2 years.
Délivrance (released in 2009), the follow-up to The Way the Wind Blows, was recorded in Budapest, Hungary. It includes collaborations with some of Hungary's best folk musicians, including Ferenc Kovacs, Balazs Ungar, and Kálmán Balogh.
The first four albums and an E.P. were released on The Leaf Label. In 2010 Barnes and Trost started their own label, L.M. Dupli-cation, and released their 5th album, Cervantine, in February 2011. The label aims to release music from around the Eastern European region.
A Hawk and A Hacksaw have appeared at All Tomorrow's Parties Festival, Roskilde (Den), The Green Man Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, The Calgary Folk Fest, Wellington Arts Fest (N.Z.), among others. They have also toured with Wilco, Calexico, Andrew Bird, of Montreal, Beirut and Portishead.
The name "A Hawk and A Hacksaw" is a reference to the book "Don Quixote" by Miguel De Cervantes. "Don Quixote" was written in 1605. This quotation comes from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" probably written in 1600; I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw. The original quote was changed from "Handsaw" to "Hacksaw" to reference the Aksak meter that is so prevalent in Balkan and Turkish music.
In the original "Don Quixote", Cervantes contrasts black and white rather than a hawk and a hand-saw. The Smollet translation, however, reads, "...therefore, let every man lay his hand upon his heart and not pretend to mistake an hawk for a hand-saw; for, we are all as God made us, and many of us much worse."
Joined by an ever expanding and contracting line-up of musicians, A Hawk and A Hacksaw seeks to create an ecstatic sound much like the village bands of old- virtuosity is appreciated but not over-emphasized- and it is the communal aspect of folk tradition and musicianship that becomes important. They were chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he curated in March 2012 in Minehead, England. They performed a new and original soundtrack to Sergei Parajanov's 1964 classic; “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”