Park City Live will welcome troubadour Sean Hayes
For the past 20 years, Sean Hayes has written and sung his own songs to whomever would listen.
His audiences latched onto his rhythmic sense and soulful delivery, but also understand where his emotions stem from in songs such as "Dream Machine," "A Thousand Tiny Pieces" and "Powerful Stuff," which got nationwide attention in a Subaru commercial.
Park City will get an opportunity to see Hayes in action when he plays Park City Live on Saturday, July 5.
Hayes said the sets will be a mix of acoustic and technical beats.
"These days, I’m using some beats for my solo show and these beats will be different from show to show," Hayes told The Park Record during a phone call from a little yellow shed in Petaluma, California. "I’m kind of an old man. I’m in my 40s, so when I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of electronica, but I’ve always been attracted to dance music and I’ve always been attracted to folk music."
The musician blames the guitar for starting his musical road trip.
"The guitar is the poor-man’s instrument and that’s all I had for a while," Hayes said. "It took a long time before I was able to get a computer. So, I’ve been writing songs for more than 20 years, and the computer has just come around in the past 10 to 15 years. And I’ve been going at it pretty hardcore."
Still, Hayes, who travels solo, but on occasion works in a duo or a band, said it was the voice and guitar that starts off his songwriting sessions.
"When I figured out writing songs and sat down to write, that process resonated with me," he said. "Influences will be all over the place. It’s kind of habit right now, but when I’m free, I go and sit in a shed, a room or a studio and pick up the guitar and strum it."
Usually a melody will come out that touches Hayes emotionally.
"Words are another kind of thing," he said. "They’re a little tricky. So sometimes I’ll see objects around me and start writing about them and just describe what I see."
More often than not, that will kick-start the juices.
"Then very quickly I will go inside and get in touch with the emotional states of things that are bothering me or exciting me," Hayes said.
Hayes’ fans have said his music still retains the emotion that many modern songs lack, which is something that the songwriter downplays.
"Whether I do that or not, I just do what I can do," he said. "I never have been music-industry focused. But I chose to play music a long time ago and pursue it as a career.
"I was scared of the career part for a long time, but I knew I wanted to make a living at it and I kept at it," Hayes said. "It’s not the easiest path to follow, and no job is easy, but the integrity of it all is to keep at it."
However, there are times when Hayes will look back at songs he’s written and want to change them.
"Some will have a line that I feel like I can’t sing aloud and there are some that I’ve actually changed while singing live," he said. "I have also found that I have even changed songs without realizing it, because I’m not beholden to the piece of paper that had the original lyrics on it. As a songwriter, you do judge yourself a lot when you’re writing and the hardest thing is to go back to a song over and over again after you’ve written it and not judging it."
Still there are songs that Hayes has written years ago that haven’t changed but are barely seeing the light of day.
One of those is a number called "The Flowers Children," which he wrote in 2012. The song is about the conflict in Syria and Hayes released the song on June 20 to honor World Refugee Day.
"This song is very specific to Syria but it wasn’t on any record and I may have sang it to myself or to the wall," Hayes said. "That wasn’t doing any good, especially because it’s a song that means something to me."
For two years, Hayes wondered what he could do with the tune, when his wife pointed out World Refugee Day.
"After that, everything happened in about a week," he said "I turned out a mix of it, which forced me to deal with it and finish it and get it out into the world where it is meant to be."
The song can be downloaded by visiting http://www.seanhayesmusic.com .
The philosophy of not being obligated to anyone but himself works well with Hayes’ live performances.
"I don’t try to reproduce the recordings when I’m performing, because some of my songs are so raw and others were taught to a band quickly to record them," he said. "So the aesthetic is just looking for the snapshot of the moment. When I’m doing a live show, with a band or just myself, I let the songs adapt.
"When I’m with a band, I always hope that some new musician will find something different about a song and we’ll adjust it," he said.
Singer and songwriter Sean Hayes will perform at Park City Live, 427 Main St., on Saturday, July 5. The music will start with opening guest Cory Mon at 9 p.m. Tickets range from $12.50 to $22.50 and are available for purchase by visiting http://www.parkcitylive.net.
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