Nite Hawk Band plays the crowd

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nite Hawk Band will be landing in Emo, Ontario, for the annual Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society Fall Fair next week.

The four-man band is composed of James Eastman, lead guitarist, singer, and band leader; Wes Debungie, bass player; John McEvoy, drummer and vocalist; and Adrian Indian, vocalist and guitarist.

Keeping classic rock and blues music alive for almost 17 years, the band has performed at various venues and special events with a passion of uplifting people’s spirits and sharing their talents with the world. The group officially formed on December 1, 2006.

The name “Nite Hawk” was chosen because most band members consider themselves to be night owls, says band leader Eastman.

“That’s where [the band name] derived from. We tend to stay up longer than we should,” he said.

While he doesn’t have a favourite show the band has performed at, as each one is unique in its own way, Eastman says he looks forward to the fair this year—especially seeing crowds gather.

“From newborns to elders, seeing them enjoying themselves, enjoying the fair, enjoying the music — it’s nice to see everybody out and about again,” he said. “Each show is awesome, regardless of who we’re playing for or what we’re playing for. So it’s really hard to pick a favourite. Like I said, every show, every venue is different. There is its own uniqueness.”

Nite Hawk Band has played at the Emo Fair for many years now. When asked about this year’s upcoming setlist, Eastman replied that he likes to “play the crowd.”

“We don’t really run with set lists because each show is different so we basically play the crowd. It’s more or less whatever pops into my head. Whatever we feel gets the crowd going. So that’s kind of the genre or musical mix that we use to keep things uplifted and people having a good time,” he said.

As band leader, Eastman says he takes care of most of the booking, scheduling, logistics required in making sure equipment runs smoothly and ensuring that his band mates show up on time to gigs.

He notes that the band members work full time jobs and oftentimes have difficulties co-ordinating band practices, especially living in three different towns across the Rainy River District.

Giving advice to those interested in starting their own band, Eastman says that a band requires group effort and sacrifices.

“You’ve got to make some sacrifices and, you know, when things are not going your way or things get tough, that’s the time to work at it harder in order to overcome those obstacles,” he said. “You can’t do it with one person carrying the load. It has to be a group effort to make.”

Earlier this summer, on July 14, Nite Hawk Band gave a live performance of “Sweet Home Alabama” at the 100th Lake of the Woods county fair in Baudette, MN.

The performance can be viewed online at

The band will perform from 2 to 6 p.m. on August 18 and 19 at the fairgrounds.

To connect with the band, follow their Facebook page or TikTok @nitehawkband2006.