Sean Hayes was born in New York City. At age 5, his family moved to North Carolina, where he grew up and eventually gravitated toward the local theater scene. Through the course of studying acting, he got turned on to singing and playing guitar and eventually writing and performing music. The sense of stage learned in Sean’s early theater days richly informed his musical performance. This asset of stage comfortability is more apparent than ever in his compelling live shows today.
After a few years of college and playing music in the Carolinas, Sean headed across the country to San Francisco. He began working in cafes and meeting new people in both the music scene and the theater world. It wasn’t long before songwriting and performing quickly became the center of his existence. Sean played in every hip little venue and bar that would have him and eventually became something of a local legend. As more and more people found his music, they began to ask, “Why is this guy not a household name?” until almost purely by word-of-mouth and music-sharing among friends, the Bay Area’s best-kept secret began to reach more listeners around the globe – including house music icon DJ Mark Farina, KCRW’s own Nic Harcourt, indie-acoustic darling Jolie Holland, overseas music junkies and the like.
Sean’s first two albums, A Thousand Tiny Pieces and Lunar Lust, were both casually recorded and mostly sold at shows. His 2004 release, Alabama Chicken, was recorded in the living room of an incredible “gingerbread house” at the top of Mill Valley, CA. As his first full-band recording, it features a lively backdrop of local players while still retaining a sweetly organic, acoustic feel. Big Black Hole and the Little Baby Star is Hayes’ 2006 release – and probably his most widely known to date. Recorded in Etienne de Rocher’s work shed in Berkeley, the album is full of variety and character. There are straight-up, hook-laden pop/rock tunes, melancholy ballads, solo acoustic rants, and even a few dance tracks – all of which come together brilliantly to form a singularly beautiful collection of music.
Sean’s fifth and newest release, Flowering Spade (2007), marks the first time Hayes has ever recorded in a studio. Basic tracks, overdubs and mixing all happened in the same room where Van Morrison, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival and others made magic in the late 60’s & early 70’s. To help bring Flowering Spade to life, Hayes pulled Ches Smith, Shahzad Ismaily, Devin Hoff, Todd Roper, Ara Anderson, Rob Reich, and David Boyce from the avant garde jazz & post-rock scenes of NYC, LA and San Francisco. These top notch musicians play with the likes of Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Nels Cline Singers, Xui, Xui, Cake, Tom Waits, Tin Hat, OK GO, Gaucho & Broun Fellinis. Most of the album was recorded live in the studio with horns, accordion and marimba overdubbed. Hayes authored the entirety of Flowering Spade’s thirteen unique songs; they span different moods, tempos, and styles, making for quite a nice ride.
Sean has recently been seen touring the US, UK and Europe – headlining, playing residencies, sharing co-bills or support slots and sometimes with frequent touring partner Jolie Holland. Following the release of Flowering Spade, Sean will hit the road again – thankfully with his addictive, soulful groove and weathered, acoustic dance-ability in tow.
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