Busker mixes blues and country on street corners and in concert halls
He calls himself Spoonz. And he doesn’t write songs, he writes hits.
I first ran into Jerry Hayes, also known as Spoonz, about a year ago at Jefferson’s Restaurant. With its long tattered bar and worn wood floors, the space served as a perfect place for a musician who belongs in a juke joint. He had his amplifier in tow but didn’t need it and start riffing on his harmonica. “I don’t do any covers,” he proclaimed. “I write hits that relate to your everyday life.”
And sure enough, Spoonz started playing to the dozen or so people gathered there. His brand of 12 bar blues and country was a combination sure to turn heads. After he proceeded to play a private song for every table in the place, Spoonz sat down and said, “You gotta play with the same enthusiasm in front of one person as you would in front of thousands,” a quote attributed to his hero Ray Charles.
I later found Spoonz busking around this year’s Riverbend Festival. In his trademark fedora and bowtie, he once again came strutting across the street with his amplifier. He’s a natural showman and works a crowd even when he’s not performing.
Blues has long been a genre of heartache and tragedy. Spoonz’s special style doesn’t pull any punches. “Cheating with Crack”, is probably the song that gets the most attention from listeners. “It’s hard to talk to someone about drug abuse,” he says. “This is my way of talking to my kids because there are always two sides to the story.”
The song details the destruction any drug can cause a person and their family. The song connects to many people he’s encountered on the street.
“You can walk around any city and find suffering,” he says “I look at it as an opportunity to play for a diverse audience.”
Listening to his five song EP, he has a guttural growl of a voice that’s sounds like he’s seen his share of trouble. “Rabbit” talks about a woman and her cheating ways.
“I’ve been married 32 years but before my wife I did have women who ran around on me,” he says. “But that’s ok. It just lets me know I married the woman I’m supposed to be with.”
But in the end, Spoonz wants to bring the party. “You gotta have that somethin’” he says “It’s a party, a groove. It’s entertainment.”
To see Spoonz play on the street is entertainment indeed. It’s live, raw, soulful, relaxed, mellow and chilled all at the same time.
So why the name Spoonz? He finally breaks out a set of spoons and starts keeping a beat with them, immediately getting the attention of a small child passing by. The child stops to investigate and Spoonz invites him closer. The child giggles with excitement at the show.
“See!” says Spoonz. “That kid probably eats with spoons at every meal. It relates to his everyday life.”
You can reach Spoonz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of Daniel Norton