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MP3 Miami Dan & The Hayes Street Band - A Time In The Spotlight

aging baby boomer pop/rock

15 MP3 Songs
POP: Folky Pop, EASY LISTENING: Soft Rock

This album began as a Hayes Street Band project in February, 2004. They wanted to take their home-made music into a professional studio and make a record. At that time, HSB consisted of John Dennis Hoffman, Tommy “the G” Gilmore, Miami Dan Yoe, Clifford “Curry” Cooper and Patrick Yoe. The album was originally to be entitled “Season of Hope” and was to contain 10 songs. Three of the original line-up of ten tracks were written by J.D. Hoffman, six were written by Miami Dan Yoe and the tenth track was a collaboration between Dennis Hoffman and Tommy “the G” Gilmore entitled “the Ballad of the Hayes Street Band.”

Paul Hornsby had been enlisted as the album’s engineer and time was booked at his Muscadine Recording Studio in Macon, GA to begin the project. Hornsby’s musical resume is, to understate the case, impressive. He played keyboards in the 1960’s in the Hour Glass band, which also contained Duane and Gregg Allman. After Hour Glass disbanded, Hornsby played with other bands before eventually becoming a producer with Phil Walden’s Macon-based Capricorn Records. While with Capricorn, Hornsby produced gold albums for both the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band. He now tours with Capricorn Rhythm Section and is a respected studio musician. HSB could scarcely believe its luck when Paul agreed to help them get their album recorded.

Early in 2004, the band enthusiastically retreated to Macon to start work on the album. Four sessions had been completed when things began to unravel. Cliff Cooper had never really become involved in the project. At the behest of the rest of the band, he made two very brief appearances in the studio. During the first he interrupted Paul Hornsby, who was in the middle of working out a Hammond B-3 solo for “Carolina Mile”, to ask him to play the introduction to “Chest Fever” (Hornsby was not amused), and during the second he implored the band to eschew its original material and instead cover a couple of Beatles songs (the rest of the band was not amused). Recording was nearly completed on five songs, including two of the Hoffman compositions (“Carolina Mile” and “Young Man That I Was”) when Hoffman and Gilmore abruptly withdrew from the project. (Rumor has it that the extended HSB family included its own version of Yoko Ono.)

“It was a shock,” Yoe says. “The first few sessions had gone really well. Tommy, Dennis and I had each done lead vocals. I really couldn’t believe it when they all just dropped out. Cliff was never into it, but Dennis and Tommy were. Dennis was having a great time working with Paul Hornsby and I think we were all surprised at how well the music was coming together. I’m still not sure what happened exactly. I think Dennis was having some personal and job related issues and felt like he couldn’t continue to devote time to the project. I was really disappointed when they told me. It happens, though. There are no hard feelings. We’re all still friends.”

Frustrated, but determined to finish what had been started, Miami Dan decided to continue with the project, assisted only by his son from the original HSB, bass player Pat Yoe. Since neither of the two J.D. Hoffman songs had ever been completed, and Miami Dan had shelved three of his own compositions declaring they were not strong enough for the album, several new songs needed to be written. Over the next three years, Yoe wrote about 20 new songs, finally selecting 9 of them to add to the 3 tracks that could be used from what HSB had started. “I love Dennis’s music and really wanted his songs on the album, but there was no way to finish his tunes and do them justice without him,” states Miami Dan. “And some of the tunes I had written in the 80’s just weren’t going to fit in with what I was trying to do. We were only able to salvage 3 of the tracks that we had started on. I had to come up with some new material, not to mention a new band.”

Keith Williams, a local Macon musician and long time friend of Yoe’s agreed to help out in the studio, and approached his former band mate and fellow Maconite, drummer Billy Rivers, about pitching in as well. Son Patrick was playing bass in the Athens, GA based band, “the Revival”, and agreed to talk to other members of that band about assisting on vocals. Paul Hornsby used his network of studio musicians to recruit the remaining musical talent needed, and the Hayes Street Band, albeit re-tooled, was back in business. The core of the new band was Keith Williams on guitar and backing vocals, Pat Yoe on bass, Billy Rivers on drums, Miami Dan on lead vocals and Hornsby himself contributing most of the keyboard work. “I couldn’t possibly have finished the album without the help of Keith Williams, Paul Hornsby, Billy Rivers and Pat Yoe,” Miami Dan says. “A lot of musicians participated in the sessions and I’m grateful to every one of them, but without those 4 guys, it wouldn’t have happened.”

The recording process was unorthodox, to say the least. “Rehearsals” usually consisted of a 45 minute warm-up session at the home of Keith Williams, where Yoe would use his rudimentary guitar skills to teach the songs to Keith, Pat and Billy. Other studio musicians would hear the songs for the first time in the studio just prior to recording them. Miami Dan: “After the first three songs, ‘When Bogey Wore His Fedora’ was the only track we were actually able to practice very much before we recorded it. Billy Rivers has a drum kit set up in his living room and we had a full rehearsal session at his house starting around midnight one night after he got off work. Billy’s wife, Sharon, was really gracious about it and even helped us work out the ending to the song. It was amazing to me how quickly all of the musicians were able to learn their parts and come up with their own improvisations. Except for ‘Bogey’, the first time the musicians heard these songs was in the studio on the day we recorded them. We would run through each song a couple of times and Paul would say, ‘let’s cut it.’ Keith is a fabulous guitarist. I love the solos and riffs he came up with. I think the rehearsal session at Billy’s house had a lot to do with the rhythm section coming together. Keith and Billy have played music with one another forever and Keith and Pat have played onstage together, but ‘Bogey’ was the first track that Billy and Pat had played together on. After that session, though, it was like they had been playing together for years.”

For those paying attention, there’s a story line that runs through these songs. “It’s about a guy who’s always wanted to be in a band weaving his way through life’s experiences. Parts of it are loosely based on some of the things that have happened to me over the last 35 years or so, and parts of it are completely made up,” Yoe explains. “The story culminates with a song called ‘Singer in a Rock & Roll Band’ that features a lead vocal by Chris Hicks. We cut a version of this song with me singing the lead, but it sounded like Dean Martin trying to cover a Lynyrd Skynyrd song and the musicians did such a great job on the track that I wanted a better vocal for it. Chris was recording an album at Muscadine at the time and Paul had gotten him to play guitar on ‘Singer’. I was thrilled when he agreed to also sing on the track. His slide guitar and gritty vocals make the song, and are exactly what I envisioned when I wrote it. I thought it was a fitting way to end the story – as if by magic the lead character fulfills his dream and learns how to sing rock and roll in the end.”

Now you know the story behind “A Time in the Spotlight.” The face of the Hayes Street Band underwent some changes during the recording process, but the end product retains the band’s original spirit. Enjoy the music, and may “half the world sing along.”

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