Ward Hayden rolls into Rochester on ‘South Shore’ release tour

Formed nearly 20 years ago on the outskirts of Boston, Ward Hayden & The Outliers have released 9 albums, including South Shore, which was released on May 5. Promoting the album’s release, the band has embarked on tour, with stops this first weekend in May in Syracuse, Rochester, Cleveland, and Columbus.

The May 6 matinée in Rochester at Abilene was their third trip to the area in the past year as they hit up Abilene in the fall as well as playing to a joyous crowd at CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival last June. The Jazz Festival is the first place I had noticed these talented crooners and their sounds have stuck with me. Mellow, insightful, calming sounds that allow you to just sit back, relax and let your worries drift away.

The first release off of South Shore is “Breaking up With My Hometown.” A nice mellow number that many people can relate to as they move on from the only surroundings they know. In a recent interview, Hayden says “It was very hard to move on, but you have to leave home if you want to grow. It’s hard to tap into those emotions if you haven’t been anywhere else.”

With his “pillowy voice of 50s pin-up star” (according to Boston Globe) Ward Hayden & The Outliers 9th studio album is nothing short of spectacular. Starting with “I Can Write a Song About It” to get you deep into thought, South Shore continues with “Hush,” “South Shore,” “Crazy Love,” “Gasoline,” “Things These Days,” “Blink of an Eye,” “I Can’t Wake Up,” “(Breaking Up with) My Hometown,” and “The Great Unknown.”

Like previous albums every song tells a story, especially the title track “South Shore.” This is an ode to where Hayden grew up. Having moved numerous times, his family finally settled down in Scituate, about 30 miles from Boston. The song talks of his personal struggle of leaving Scituate to discover life and who he was and then having to return as the pandemic took a hold of the country. “The Great Unknown” is about life and all that nobody really knows, deep thoughts that Jack Handy would be proud of. Crazy Love is about just that, crazy love. Was it a first crush? First long term relationship? It doesn’t matter, we have all been there to certain degree.

And I left home for a while to see where I belonged.
I searched high and low for a place to call home, but it all felt wrong. And people say, “You can never go home”,
But I like to think that ain’t so ‘cause if it is I’ve got nowhere to go

The band includes Josh Kiggans on drums, Cody Nilsen on guitar & Pedal Steel, Greg Hall on upright & electric bass Ward Hayden Vocals & Guitar

Follow along with Ward Hayden & The Outliers as they tour with their own honky-tonk sounds.

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