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First tribute CD for the late Ted Hawkins is labor of love for its creators

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According to a May 1 correspondence, Eight 30 Records will debut next year with the tentatively titled "Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins," the first tribute album dedicated to the soulful Venice Beach street performer, who was a living legend overseas later in his lifetime but a songwriter largely overlooked in the United States.

Although the Mississippi native’s gone, he's clearly not forgotten. Local Americana power trio Kevin Russell (The Gourds, Shinyribs), Jenni Finlay (James McMurtry, Jon Dee Graham) and Brian T. Atkinson (author of "I’ll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt") are lovingly co-producing "Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins," with recording sessions scheduled in Austin in November 2014.

“Ted Hawkins’ songs and his voice were infectiously uplifting to me upon first listen 20 years ago,” said Russell, who's reported extra enthusiastic about the project.

“His unique style, both soulful and folkie, have haunted me and taught me – so much so that I have been on a personal mission to tell the world about this national musical treasure," he continued. "The opportunity to steward this tribute record is a ‘go tell it on the mountain’ moment for me that I hope can bring greater attention to the songs and recordings of Mr. Hawkins himself.”

Hawkins, who is known for simply singing songs as if the lyrics were stamped on his heart, delivers high watermarks such as “Sorry Your Sick,” “Cold and Bitter Tears,” “Watch Your Step,” “Whole Lotta Women,” “The Lost Ones” and other classics. The tracks earned him a following on the Venice beach boardwalk, but his unpredictable lifestyle prevented widespread notice.

In 1982, Hawkins made minor critical waves with his debut, "Watch Your Step," an album that failed commercially but earned a five-star review in Rolling Stone. He scarcely recorded between "Watch Your Step" and his major-label debut, "The Next Hundred Years," which was released in '94. He died the following year, on Jan. 1, 1995, as his star finally threatened to rise.

To sample some of Hawkins' music, please click here.