On a cold winter Wednesday night in a small room in downtown Denver, with a warm fuzzy warm up from the beautiful Angie Stevens, Hayes Carll thrilled a focused crowd. This was not your typical shit-stirring, body-bumping audience. These fans mostly knew the words, sang along or silently stood in ‘rapt-attention’ mode. I know I did, anyway.
Hayes just seems like the kind of guy you wind up on a barstool beside and surprisingly find yourself as relaxed and at ease as you would with someone you’d known and conversed with for years.
A story told by Hayes is a gift – wrapped up in an old newspaper with no bow. He strains to get the high notes out sometimes, and sometimes just close enough is good enough for him. Nobody minded. He had just finished touring with Steve Earle, playing 30-minute opening sets. The following day was to be his 5th wedding anniversary and, as he told us, “I’ve missed 4 of them.” Ah, the road….. He did seem pretty weary. Who wouldn’t be, trying to keep up with a Steve Earle tour? That just had to be trying, what with Steve’s larger-than-life personality, relentless drive, and numerous idiosyncrasies. I imagine that Hayes is about as laid-back personality-wise as Steve is revved up and angsty. I love Steve and always enjoy his concerts, but opted, this time, for a full Hayes Carll show.
I found myself mesmerized – awestruck by this skinny, raggedy-haired man with a well-used Gibson on stage alone, singing our lives to us, one song at a time. I didn’t miss the dozen guitar stands displaying flashy, expensive guitars *cough – McMurtry*. Hayes played the old Gibson with a new pickguard popped on recently, apparently to prevent Willie Nelson guitar-wasting disease.
All evening, Hayes was comfortable, relaxed, sleepy-eyed, perhaps even bedroom-eyed. Those blue eyes were working the room, though. As my friend put it, he made eye contact with every woman in the room slyly and sweetly. Hmphf! I was convinced I was the only one, but since one guy yelled out loudly that he wanted to have Hayes’ baby, I guess that was not the case.
Is Hayes really from big-city Houston? ‘Cause his voice is small-town Arkansas lazy, if you ask me, and I should know, having learned to talk under the tutelage of that breed.
I’ve been a fan for years but I’m avid now! Note to self: Don’t miss the next Hayes Carll show.
He simply delighted everyone with all those great songs from Flowers and Liquor, Little Rock, and Trouble in Mind (2008 release), and pleasantly surprised us with three new tunes that he ‘tried-out’ on us before his next release, which he says will be out in 2013. Surely he was kidding. He knows we can’t wait that long.