These days, it seems a lot of the best songwriters come from Texas, and Hayes Carll is no exception. Raised in Houston, Carll drew early inspiration from the writing of Jack Kerouac and the Beats, which perhaps explains his affinity for the road. Influenced by the outlaw country of singers like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, he also drew influence from folk singers like Bob Dylan and John Prine. This is evident in the folk sensibility he brings to his own decidedly country music. Like Prine, he can easily make you laugh with a song such as "Hard Out Here," then turn around and just as easily break your heart with a tune like "Bye Bye Baby."
On his current release, 2011's KMAG YOYO (a military acronym for "Kiss My Ass Guys, You're On Your Own"), Hayes Carll and his band go from raucous barroom rockers, like "Stomp and Holler" and the title track, to the steel guitar-tinged "Chances Are," a song with such an old soul that it stands alongside many a country standard. Like his influences, Hayes Carll's songs reflect the humor and heartbreak of life on the road.
Hayes Carll plays the Pageant on June 8 as part of Twangfest 15.