MY CLAIM TO FAME
Out May 29 on Move The Needle Music
“…effortless blend of rock and soul…” – Huffington Post
“… a player with a tone to die for and an understanding of phrasing that would make Warren Haynes blush.” – Buffalo News
His latest collection of songs My Claim To FAME is about how he rolled into town and plugged into FAME studio
Muscle Shoals is a small city in the upper north-west corner of Alabama, creating a “triangle” with Memphis and Nashville, TN, which are two other music meccas. It’s a sleepy town with not a care in the world, but to make good music.
Mick Hayes’s love affair with Muscle Shoals began he was a young man growing up in upstate New York, where he would browse record shops with wall to wall music from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin to Duane Allman to Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke. This was his therapy, meditation, and dinner at times, to feed his soul. His latest collection of songs My Claim To FAME (out May 29, 2020) is how he rolled into town and plugged into FAME studio. Located on the main stretch in the small sleepy city, on Avalon Ave, the place still looks and feels like it did back in their heyday from green carpet, paneled walls, and older equipment just waiting for someone like Mick.
The album was produced by Mick and captured by engineer John Gifford, III (Gregg Allman, Shawn Amos) using all the vintage equipment he could find from mics to mixing boards. Mick had a vision for the songs, but that all went out the window after he walked into the building for God had another plan: “Recording at FAME with those players was like being at the best potluck dinner ever. I didn’t have to do too much except get out the way!” gushes, Mick. The musician “nom-nom-nom-ed” on some good food while he was there, perhaps thinking the romance would grow fonder inside his belly.
After the recording was done at FAME, it was time to give the songs that mastering sheen; and he only looked to ones that were authentic in their approach and skills. Cian Riordan for mixing the songs and Brian Lucey for mastering both in Los Angeles and both with impressive resumes from Lucinda Williams to the Black Keys and Doyle Bramhall, II. Their touch added to the album’s authenticity. As for the vinyl pressing, he called on Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering to do the job.
Some of the session players on the record have a laundry list of accomplishments: Justin Holder on drums and percussion (James Le Blanc) – Bob Wray (Ray Charles, The Marshall Tucker Band) on bass guitar – Clayton Ivey (Bobby “Blue” Bland, Etta James, B.B. King) on electric piano and organ – Vinnie Ciesielski (Gladys Knight, Lyle Lovett) on trumpet and Flugelhorn – Brad Guin (Jason Isbell): baritone sax, tenor sax and flute, and Will McFarlane (Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm) on rhythm guitar. And don’t forget the harmonies and backup singing vocals of Marie Lewey and Cindy Walker, aka The Muscle Shoals Singers.
But enough about the studio, let’s talk about the voice on the record: Mick Hayes
“Mick Hayes is the real thing! Awesome voice, great groove – What we need more of in this world!” – Billy Sheehan – noted session/touring bass player (David Lee Roth Steve Vai)
Mick sings with conviction with a tinge of heartbreak recalling singers like Gregg Allman, Marc Broussard, and Raul Malo of The Mavericks. It’s smooth and lush and matches his guitar prowess; from the playful opening licks on “Sweet To Me,” the album to the tender fade-out ending in “Saddest Picture of Me” it’s a portrait of a maturing musician.
My Claim To FAME opens up with “Sweet To Me” – “A Steely Dan-Esque, highbrow soul song with storyline lyrics longing for home. Written at 30,000 feet somewhere between NY and LA, this song features nearly all of the great soul song elements of the 60s and 70s.”
Like most artists, interest in music started very young for Mick; around seven is when he began to explore the house’s record collection. As he entered his teens, he spent hours spinning and reading liner notes in them, memorizing the names of players, and dreaming of one day recording with them. On the song, “Hand Me Down 45s” he sings about collecting those old vinyl platters:
“The song is a traditional soul shuffle like “Soothe Me” by Sam and Dave, “You’re Good For Me” by Solomon Burke, or” I’m Not Tired” by Wilson Pickett. Written in rest stops and Waffle House Parking lots, it’s a real and authentic inspiration that happened on the way back to NY after the first FAME recording session. Lyrically it’s a nod to the resurgence of vinyl and [the] hand me down culture.”
Mick’s guitar tones are throaty and emotional on one song, and then melodic filled treble licks, that kick it in dance mode. Using either a Gibson or a Fender six-string guitar, he just plugs into his Morgan and Two-Rock Amp so that the song will take on a life of its own. His sound sits perfectly at the crossroads of the Golden Age of Soul circa 1965 and the Funk Blues circa 1973.
“No Second Chances”: the oldest song of the bunch and written like a 70’s Curtis Mayfield song. The lead vocal takes you on a haunted journey of drunkenness, heartache, and permeant scars. While it’s remindful and preaching empowerment, the damage control is very evident, and the story closes with a tearful wah-wah guitar solo.” – Mick Hayes
For the past ten years, Mick and his band have been touring up to 200 shows nationwide with festivals to club shows to opening slots with noted acts like Duke Robillard, Samantha Fish, and Delbert McClinton to name a few. He loves the vibe and energy of his crowds that always make him feel like he’s on top of the world on stage.
Mick Hayes has a Masters in Showman 101 on stage with his voice and his guitar, for he mesmerizes crowds from a high-level opening slot to a crowded, smoky bar he gets more people on the dance floor than Soul Train!