It may be more than two years since the release of San Fran folkie Sean Hayes’s last recorded effort, but that isn’t stopping fans from continuously flocking to his tour stops in droves. On 2007’s Flowering Spade (and its four impeccable predecessors), Hayes’s potent raspy croon stands front and center, backed by deliberate banjo plucks, harmonious guitars, and twangy violin parts. Most important here, however, are Hayes’s lyrics, delivered with a raw emotion and abandon that draws you in immediately. The singer/songwriter cruises through town this Thursday, October 1, with a 9 p.m. show alongside Ventura’s Todd Hannigan at SOhO (1221 State St.). For tickets and info, call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com. And for more about Hayes’s sweet, sweet music, read on below.
1) Fans in High Places: Long before the folk community caught on to Hayes’s jaw-dropping talent, it was former Morning Becomes Eclectic host Nic Harcourt who was rooting on the songwriter. In fact, it was the odd sonic pairing of Hayes and his deejay neighbor Mark Farina (on the down-tempo Farina track “Dream Machine”) that first thrust the singer into Harcourt’s sphere and onto KCRW’s airwaves. Since then, it’s been a slow but steady rise out of obscurity for Hayes-and a sonic blessing for all those now in the know.
2) S.F. Love: For many visitors or one-time residents of San Francisco, Hayes’s live show is a bit of a city institution. “I feel like it really does emanate from here,” Hayes said recently via phone. “It’s not a music-industry town at all-it’s a do-it-yourself town, but it’s also very transient and it’s hard for people to settle here, especially musicians. That said, the aesthetic and the vibe of the city are pretty deeply embedded in the music.”
3) Keeping a Low Profile: Despite nods from some of the industry’s biggest players, Hayes continues to go the DIY route, adamantly stating that he gets just as much out of playing a coffeehouse as he does headlining San Francisco’s acclaimed Great American Music Hall. Sans handlers, Hayes continues to tour where he pleases, making for intimate performances with varied players who have the same raw feel as a takeaway show. “The thing is, when you’re doing it yourself, you can only do so much,” Hayes explained.