Haas Kowert Tice asked the question, what if? After forging their own brand of roots music—one grounded in timeless tradition, crafted by top-shelf musicianship, and performed with jubilant comradery—what if this trio of America’s finest string players became a quartet?
Brittany Haas (fiddle), Paul Kowert (bass), and Jordan Tice (guitar) own the sweat equity of a decade spent stoking the fires of their passion project. Haas, whose 2004 self-titled release instantly became the touchstone for a generation of old-time fiddlers, has since lent her sound to Crooked Still, Live From Here, Michael Daves – and David Rawlings, where she plays alongside Kowert, well known as Punch Brothers’ virtuosic bass player. Tice is a rare guitar player whose music showcases his unique identity and a particular knack for tune-writing. Haas Kowert Tice was a special road they could travel together.
Their 2004 album You Got This displays a breadth of acumen and ambition rarely heard on a band’s debut. Norwegian dance rhythms astride traditional Appalachian folk, bluegrass woven progressively into fundamental notions of jazz and chamber music. But for all their success, they found themselves grinding hard through recording sessions for a follow-up record. “I felt like we were missing an element,” says Kowert; “the sound was incomplete.”
Enter Dominick Leslie, the versatile mandolinist whose rhythmic sensibility has made him ubiquitous on the acoustic music scene (Noam Pikelny, The Deadly Gentlemen, Brotet). They had all already known each other for years. The trio wanted the rhythmic backbone he offered, and another plectrum to balance the dueling bows of bass and fiddle. His addition thickens the sound and tightens the groove, opening new creative doors. In short, Leslie is a great fit.
Reborn a foursome, they recut the music for the next album. The release of Unless, in reality Hawktail’s debut, is certain to confirm that this quartet has found its wings. “It feels as though this is now a whole band capable of doing anything,” says Haas.