Hayes Carll is a singer/songwriter from The Woodlands, Texas currently signed to Lost Highway Records.
Raised in a Houston suburb by two working parents (who he has identified as "liberal"), Carll has cited influences in his youth from such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine to Jack Kerouac and Dead Poets Society. He received his first guitar at 15. After graduating high school he left for Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where he graduated with a history degree in 1998. He detassled corn for a summer before moving to Crystal Beach of Galveston, Texas, where he began playing his own songs at local bars.
Hayes moved to Austin, the unofficial music capital (as well as official capital) of Texas, where he found little success. He was so unsuccessful, in fact, that he even resorted to selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. He eventually decided to go back home and began regularly playing shows again, from Houston to Galveston, notably frequenting McGonigel's Mucky Duck in Houston.
After developing a following in the Houston area, Carll signed a one-album contract with Compadre Records. They released his debut Flowers and Liquor in 2002. Immediately embraced by critics, the album garnered comparisons to Townes Van Zandt. The Houston Press went so far as to name him the best folk act and best new artist of 2002. Hayes' tunes are ragged and often autobiographical songs about "lying around the house" playing guitar, being lonely, and drowning his sorrows in alcohol. The record also includes ballads such as "Easy Come Easy Go" and "Richey Lee," two observational narratives that display his storytelling talents.
After turning down a multi-album deal from Sugar Hill Records, his second album, Little Rock, was released under his own label, Highway 87 Records. It was produced by notable country music figure R.S. Field. It became the first self-released album to reach number one on the Americana music charts. In May of 2006, Carll announced that he is signed with Lost Highway records.
Hayes has written songs with Ray Wylie Hubbard and Guy Clark, among others. Additionally, Carll has had success on the national Americana radio charts, receiving an Americana Award for Little Rock. He is considered a main figure in the resurgence of Texas songwriters, writing in the Dylan-influenced tradition of Clark and Townes Van Zandt.
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