Soul pianist MAYER HAWTHORNE decries the “retro” tag his music often earns, and you can’t blame him: It really doesn’t come close to describing his bluesy, late-’60s rock sound. Still, it’s hard not to want to use the word “retro” in describing him, even if it’s not terribly descriptive. Hawthorne’s 2009 debut LP (on Stones Throw Records, the same label that puts out local favorite James Pants's records) sounds straight out of the era when it was hard to make bad rock ’n’ roll. It’s hard not to imagine the pops and hisses of smooth vinyl running underneath his effortless arrangements and killer grooves.
His soft personality doesn’t quite match the great music he makes — a type of rock that is known more for being more boisterous than boyish. He may not be James Brown, but Hawthorne controls the stage in his own way. (Jordan Satterfield)