If you had not become a musician, what would you be doing now?
I was a recording engineer after high school so I probably would be doing that and producing.
What got you into music?
When I was 12, John Lennon died. I went out and bought all of the Beatles albums and learned all of their songs. When I was 15, my friends and I started a sixties revival band called The Ardvarkz. I knew three guitar chords.
Who are your influences?
The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel. Music with acoustic-driven harmony.
If you could have fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
Cha-cha-cha at the end of every set. People who know me then say, Oy!
Who inspires you?
My wife Tamela is the hardest working person in the world. I am also inspired by bass player Adrian Howland.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Least favorite?
Packing up so I can go home to my couch. Least favorite—setting up.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
Not really. When I started playing with the RoshamBeatles, I was a little nervous about making mistakes.
What are your favorite performance venues?
One is Swizzle Stick, where I have been for 16 years. Also, AJ’s on the Bayou and the Boathouse (in Destin).
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
My mentor Bob Redding used to play in town at the Stowaway Lounge. I wanted to do that. He gave me this advice: “If you want to make hundreds of dollars a year, go for it!”
What do you like to do in your downtime?
I like to golf. I am better than most of my friends. Tuesday nights are my off nights on the couch with my remote.
What’s the worst job you ever had?
I got a job in Norfolk, Virginia. I had no clue where it was until I got there and was told to report to the clown in the food court. It was in the middle of a mall. I was singing to babies in strollers and kids.
What does the future hold for Chris Hayes?
I’ll keep doing this for as long as I’m pretty. I’m living the dream!
Catch Beachcomber Music Award winner Chris Hayes Fridays through Mondays at the Swizzle Stick Lounge on Okaloosa Island, Wednesdays at The Boathouse in Destin, and Thursdays at AJ’s on the Bayou in Fort Walton Beach.
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