The late blues troubadour Ted Hawkins testifies with passionate intensity on The Final Tour (Evidence 28002-2; 68:07). A gritty-voiced busker who was a fixture for years on the sand-blown oceanfront of Venice Beach, California, Hawkins’ first album appeared on Rounder in 1982. Demand overseas triggered a move in 1986 to England, where he was treated like a star for the next four years. Upon his return to the States, he went back to busking on the beach and remained without a record contract until he was spotted by DGC/Geffen, which released The Next Hundred Years in 1994. That major label debut was an ill-advised attempt to drop Hawkins in the middle of a studio band. His real magic, however, comes across in the intimate solo context, where his impassioned vocals are accompanied only by a lightly strumming guitar and the sound of his foot tapping. Hawkins’ style is more folky than bluesy, but the gospel fervor of his pipes and the sincerity of his Sam Cooke-inspired delivery are undeniable. The Final Tour captures Hawkins in such intimate situations (McCabe’s in Santa Monica, The Pres House on the campus of the University Of Wisconsin-Madison) during the fall of 1994.