By Alita Feek
On a recent Friday night, my husband Allan and I went to Props Brewery in downtown Fort Walton Beach hoping for some good food and some good music. We found both. Local singer-songwriter Wayne Hall was on deck as promised. Hall settled into his corner at the front of Props around 7, and for approximately the next two hours, he had the room.
Armed with his guitar and an easy, comforting voice, Hall was the perfect antidote to a 40-hour week. The set consisted mostly of Hall’s own creations sprinkled with a few covers. His music was pitched well to the audience. The selections were easy to listen to, and they asked little from the crowd. Mostly, they asked folks to just sit back and enjoy.
Hall’s career has been an interesting one. Technically, his music is catalogued under “alternative rock,” and so far he has released two full-length albums, the last one in 2010. He’s hard at work on the third and hopes to get it out by the end of the year, saying, “It’s definitely a change in style. I’ve grown a lot in my writing and want to show people a different side.” He cut his teeth on ‘90s alternative and grunge, citing Soundgarden as “an immense influence on me. They were a huge part of my musical journey.”
A key part of his journey is the fact that, due to a childhood firearm accident, Hall has been in a wheelchair since the age of 11. After that, music became his outlet, turning into a lifelong passion. Music helped a teenage Hall to cope with the aftermath of the accident, and now music is helping an adult Hall to reach his goal of walking.
Why? Because he is currently raising money for a special exoskeleton that will help him walk. He has about half of the $40,000 he needs. A quick Google search shows that much of the fundraising has been via music benefits at local restaurants and other venues. According to Hall, “This whole thing kicked off April of last year. Our community is just incredible.”
Exactly how incredible is evident with each passing day. For example, Hall graduated from the University of Central Florida with a major in communications and a minor in sociology. He says, “I’ve always been fascinated with people and why they do certain things.” But his studies didn’t prepare him for things like the truck incident.
Hall recounts the story to me in a tone of awe. “I went to get an oil change the other day in my truck. The guy came up to me and was like, ‘Are you Wayne Hall? I heard you’re trying to get an exoskeleton.’ I said, ‘Yeah, man.’ He just reached out and handed me money and says, ‘Just put this in the fund.’ We didn’t even exchange names. Stuff like that just makes me so grateful I’m a part of this community.”
Wayne Hall loves to write and perform music. He lives to “remind people that we really are the same, that we’re all in this together.” From formal benefits to random oil change guys, the ongoing support of the Fort Walton Beach community proves that we couldn’t agree more.
Learn more at WayneHallWalksFund.com.
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