Generally just one man with a guitar, Sean Hayes' music has a stark and empty quality. - Photo by Nate Edwards

Sean Hayes finds 'folk' a loaded word

Sean Hayes is proof that a little bit of persistence goes a long way in today's music industry. Over the past 20 years, his original songs have been remixed by disc jockey Mark Farina, covered by folk darlings The Be Good Tanyas and featured in television commercials (a nationally televised Subaru advertisement) and on TV shows, including HBO's "Bored to Death." Hayes also sang a duet with Aimee Mann for "Ballantines," featured on her new album, "Smilers."

Hayes says that as a kid, he was interested in singing but really didn't think he had any vocal aptitude. After a mandatory high-school theater class broke the ice, he began playing guitar casually and picking up an occasional gig. In 1993, he followed a woman west and settled in San Francisco, where he still lives and performs.

Hayes now has six albums to his credit. The first four were recorded in basements, living rooms and garages — the last two were done in recording studios. In 2011, he released his folk-soul album, "Run, Wolves Run," featuring several top-notch musicians, including drummer Andrew Borger, who toured with Tom Waits and Norah Jones, and Chicago bassist Devin Hoff.

"I use folk as a word, but it's so loaded," says Hayes.

"Folk," in relation to Hayes' music, is used to describe his signature, dusty, raw and unpolished sound, which he attributes, in part, to his limited music education.

"I do what I can do, but I'm not music-schooled," he says. "I've come at it from that limitation."

While much of his music has a languid quality, Hayes says he also has "a desire to give people something to tap their feet to." With its punk flavor and stand-up energy, his song "Shake Your Body" does exactly that.

Hayes says his songs explore "the thoughts, feelings and mystical qualities of oneness."

He will present originals and old favorites, such as "Alabama Chicken" and "Little Maggie," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at Jackson Wellsprings, 2253 Highway 99 North, Ashland.

To get a sampling of Hayes' music and style, watch his music videos at www.seanhayesmusic.com. Two of the videos, "The Garden" and "When We Fall In," were created by San Francisco-based production company Clean White Lines. Hayes says he issued a call to artists and received an overwhelming response from stylists, ballerinas, choreographers and videographers who showed up to contribute to the video project.

"All of a sudden, I realized how many talented friends I had around me," says Hayes. "It was that communal vibe where I said 'Hey, I got a project,' and everybody came out of the woodwork."

Cover to the show is $18. Call 541-482-3776.

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