After Holly Hanson wrote "Lighthouse Keeper" to help her boys with homeschool lessons, she decided they should live in a lighthouse. For an entire week, they were the keepers of an island lighthouse off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. Steve Hayes is the other half of this personable Americana duo, contributing his own well-crafted songs, as well as some damn good guitar work. They offer music in a down-to-earth style that is so good the prestigious Great American Song Contest called their "Fly Fishing the Big Hole" ". . . vivid, focused and engaging," and added, "It's a pleasure to hear songs of this caliber."
Holly's light soprano blends perfectly with Steve's warm tenor. Vibrant lyrics and compelling melodies nestle in inviting arrangements, telling us stories rich in detail, from a miner's life in "A Blue Sky Turned to Rust," to "Emily Dickinson," told with lyrics as beautiful as the poet's work. "Saugerties, New York" uses this charming town as the backdrop to a romantic weekend at a lighthouse where you have to time your arrival so the tides will be out. The title cut of their most recent release, The 45th Parallel, is an engaging road song. With a laid-back feel of guitars, bass, and harmonies, you can envision that broken white line slip by as they sing: "The moon it glows like embers in the branches of the pines / In this small town in September on this parallel line." The 45th Parallel is their third album. They are currently composing songs for their fourth.
Their unique name comes from the true story of a clipper ship captained by Mary Patten. In 1857, despite being pregnant, caring for her sick husband, and fighting off mutiny from the first mate, Mary successfully navigated the ship, Neptune's Car, around Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Steve comes from a musical family, from a grandfather who played guitar, banjo, and ukulele, to his brother, a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show. He's an award-winning guitar player who can play just about anything with strings; from his first gig at age thirteen, to his ten-year association with Holly, he's played all kinds of music including rock, country, jazz, funk, blues, and, of course, folk. Holly played music all through school, then took a twenty-year hiatus to raise her kids. She started writing music for her children's lessons – "In the Blue Room" (Letters from the Road), grew out of a lesson about the constellations. After a successful open mike appearance, she jumped back into performing. You can hear several influences in Steve and Holly's music, from vivid story songs like John Prine's, to intricate guitar work inspired by Tony Rice.
Whether they're playing an intimate house concert or on the main stage at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, you'll love their welcoming presence and song variety. They've shared the stage with Bill Staines, Anne Hills, Archie Fisher, and many others. Their songs have charted on the Folk-DJ list – in 2015, The 45th Parallel was number twenty on the CD chart; quite impressive when you realize DJs receive hundreds of CDs a year. Public radio's popular CarTalk has featured their songs three times.
If you're looking for watertight harmonies, tasty guitar, and solid songs, look no further than Neptune's Car. You might want to check the nearest lighthouse, too.
The 45th Parallel charted at #2 in February 2015 and included two #5 songs, "The 45th Parallel" and "A Blue Sky Turned to Rust."
The 45th Parallel was the #20 album of 2015.
Letters from the Road charted at #21 in October 2012.
Strawberry Moon charted at #4 in September 2010 and included the #1 song “Lighthouse Keeper.”
AWARDS & HONORS
2015 - Grassy Hill Emerging Artist at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
2015 - Selected as an Official Showcase Artist at Folk Alliance Region Midwest (FARM)
2014 - The Great American Song Contest Winner - Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting - Folk/Americana (Hanson)
2014 - World Folk Music Association (WFMA) Showcase Artist
2011 - Selected as a Quad Showcase Artist at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA)
1998 - New Hampshire Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year (Hayes)
Read all about our lighthouse adventures on The Keeper's Log.