Sean Hayes

Powerful stuff

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You might think you don’t know who Sean Hayes is, but you do. You may further think that I’m wrong, that you’ve never heard his music before, but you have.

No, he’s not the guy who played Jack McFarland (or “Just Jack”) on Will & Grace (although that dude is also named Sean Hayes, and his character on the sitcom fancied himself an entertainer), although I’m sure musician Hayes will deal with the kind of lifelong confusion that results when a man shares his name with someone more famous than he.

Most prominently, Hayes (the musician, not the actor) had one of his songs, “Powerful Stuff,” featured in a long-running Subaru commercial. I’m not certain how many Subaru Foresters the commercial helped to sell, but I do know Hayes’ song, which starts with the lyrics, “Oh yes, this is powerful stuff/Got me circling like the moon round the sun,” was probably the most memorable part of the once-ubiquitous commercial. And, in a world where radio play becomes less and less relevant to how so many of us learn about musicians and their music, commercial placement of songs is the new heavy rotation.

Commercials aside, Hayes is hardly a household name—unless you live in or around his home of San Francisco, that is. Now in his mid-40s, Hayes has been at this for a minute, but he seldom tours very far from home, preferring to play in places and for audiences who are known quantities. He’s content to make the mark he wants to make in the way he wants to make it—even if doing increases the chances he’ll toil in near-obscurity for the majority of his career, that one Subaru commercial notwithstanding. Frankly, in an era in which the seeking of celebrity has trumped just about everything else, Hayes’ attitude reads as a refreshing throwback to a simpler time.

But Hayes’ music may well prove to be bigger than the ambitions of the musician that spawned it. Born in New York, raised in North Carolina and residing in San Francisco for the past two-plus decades, Hayes has an Irish-influenced folk/indie/soul sound—and a wholly distinctive voice that rings with rawness and warmth at the same time—that’s easy on the ears and tough to forget. As well, his songs speak to simple, essential things—love, of course, and, more recently, fatherhood—in ways that are poetic yet elemental. In other words, his songs are about those things we all feel, presented in a way we can all relate to.

When Hayes makes his way from his beloved San Franciscan home to Bellingham, it won’t be his first trip here. And, if his last show at the Wild Buffalo is any measure, Bellingham is another locale that will feel a lot like home to this currently wandering troubadour—as it does to so many other bands and musicians who come our way. Further proof that we know “powerful stuff” when we hear it.

More Music...
David Dondero
Just another hardcore troubadour

In this era of all the music in existence being available for the streaming on the Internet, it can be surprisingly difficult to find something to listen to. More truly lovely music than I could ever hope to hear in my lifetime is out there, waiting for me to discover it, but it’s…

more »
Music at the MBT
Clear your calendars

It is common for Bellingham’s many music venues to offer live entertainment several nights a week. That is, after all, how you make your living at a music venue.

However, it is a little more unusual for the Mount Baker Theatre to have that kind of a busy schedule. Don’t get me wrong,…

more »
Music at the Movies
From Peter Pan to Ben-Hur

After several months of partaking of music in the great outdoors, judging by the fact that I wore sweaters more days last week than I donned T-shirts, I’d say fall is definitely happening, despite my efforts to deny it. For some of you, the changing of the seasons is an excuse to clamber…

more »
Handling the truth


Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall and Brodniak Hal

98221 Artists Studio Tour

10:00am|Anacortes and Guemes Island

Harvest Happens

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

The Fungus Among Us

10:00am|North Lake Whatcom Park

Lynden Book Club

12:30pm|Lynden Library

Sunday Market

1:00pm|Alger Community Hall

Praise the Salmon

1:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Living Proof

4:00pm|Village Books

Benefit Variety Show

6:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Greg Proops

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

MBT Once Lydia Place
Handling the truth


Word Sprints

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

October Chores in the Garden

6:30pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Crossing Zion

7:00pm|Deming Library


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

Everybody’s Store Artifacts Wine Bar
Handling the truth


Halloween Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Anti-Inflammation Menu

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Beet Inspiration

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Polyamorous Particulars

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Raptor Management

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

see our complete calendar »

MBT Ben Folds Artifacts Wine Bar Lydia Place Swinomish 2016 Northwood Steak and Crab Andrew Subin Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Everybody’s Store MBT Ben Folds