Photo by Chuck Winans

Pat "Lamont" Hayes on stage at the new Chicago House Of Blues on grand opening night; Monday, November 25, 1996.

Everyone knows he's an incredible harmonica player, but we'll also discuss his 'explosive' guitar work, after we do the introductions.

At the controls, Pat 'Lamont' Hayes has led the legendary band since the early 1970's. Growing up in Hamel, Minnesota, Pat soon moved to the West Bank area in Minneapolis in the mid 60's. Already on his way to becoming the musician that he is today, he used to return to the 'homeland' to sing and play harmonica with his brother Larry's high school band; "The Moon" (of which, Rico was the original drummer).

"We used to make people sick when we played, literally". "We used to play real psychedelic with feedback and the whole works". "We had this single little homemade strobe light and once people would get drunk, the combination of the music and the pulsing strobe light would make them physically ill, all over".

They started out playing the music of The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Stones, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and many others. The blues was already in their soul. Pretty soon, they started digging deeper into the roots of those who's music they played. Who were those guys; Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B. King, Freddie King, Lightnin' Hopkins, etc.

Immediately, that was it. The very beginnings of The Lamont Cranston Band. Although the name would not come until later, this was it. Pat, Larry, Rico and bassist Tim Howe soon were playing every suburban party there was. Wayzata had it's own band which consisted of David Gove, Pete Krogseng, Kent DuChaine (who has gone on to a very successful solo career, which takes him all over Europe and the U.S.), Wayne White and Jim Novak (drummer for the recently defunct Hoopsnakes and now rejoining the Cranstons). Now, we had what we used to call, the 'battle of the bands'.

The 'battle' didn't last too long, though. Everyone became great friends and shared the same goal; the Blues. "We used to have huge jams at anyones house that we could". Pretty soon, more musicians showed up on the scene and the jams got bigger; Bob 'Bobo' Bingham, his younger brother Charlie, Kim Wilson (pre-Fabulous Thunderbirds) and others. Soon, friendships developed with other bands such as The Daisy Dillman Band. Everyone was well on their way.

The Lamont Cranston Band debuted (first paying club gig) at a small (long gone) club in Excelsior, Minnesota called 'Humplemeyer's", sometime around the summer of 1969. Another band grew out of the fire; 'The Lake Street Stink Band', which included Larry, Wayne, Kent and eventually Rico. The 'Stinkers' are still talked about to this day. The Stink band stuck to the more country style of blues; Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, etc. The Cranstons headed down the Chicago Blues road; B.B. King, Freddie King, Paul Butterfield, etc.

Pat 'Lamont' Hayes has led the legendary band through many personnel changes, 13 albums and many show stopping experiences. Besides leading the Cranstons through the years of popularity that they've enjoyed, Hayes also has solo ventures to his credit, touring with Bonnie Raitt as a member of her band on her 1990 "Nick Of Time" tour; blowing harmonica duets with Charlie Musselwhite in Minneapolis and during a recent Hollywood trip after receiving a special invitation from Dan Aykroyd to be a special guest performer at a private party pre-grand opening bash at Dan's new 'House Of Blues' nightclub, where he performed with Charlie and his band the first night and with The Blues Brothers band the next night. Pat has been hailed by Bonnie, Dan and many others as being one of the best harmonica players around.

Bonnie Raitt and Pat Hayes onstage in the 'early' days.

Once Pat puts down his harmonica and picks up his guitar, all of the fireworks begin. His guitar playing is equally as amazing, if not more. Few, if any, of the blues musicians known for their harmonica playing will even pick up a guitar, whats more make it sound like one of the old masters. The crowd cheers just as much for Pat's guitar playing as they do for his harmonica playing. Most of his new material that he has written took place with guitar in hand. The upbeat "Hold On" gets the crowd rocking, while "No Time For Love" hands them that mystical 'snake charming' beat that they love so much. Then, there is "Don't Take Me Down Again", or as Bruce McCabe (Jonny Lang, Hoopsnakes) puts it, "One of the most beautiful ballads that I've ever heard". There is also "What A Party", a fantastic new song recorded for the new album. Written the same morning on the way to the studio on the day it was recorded, the song is in that special 'swing rock' style that has already rocketed two of their songs; "Rock-Awhile" and "Excusez Moi, Mon Cheri", onto the 'Beach Party Top 10' in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.


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