Cyrus Hayes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Cyrus Hayes 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


This Arkansas-born vocalist and harp player is one of the better-kept secrets in Chicago blues. A mainstay on the west side since the early 80s, he's recorded only a few tracks for small labels and an album, Are You Ready for Love, that he released a few years ago on his own Sea Dog imprint. The album suffers from murky production and stiff rhythm tracks, but it gives a tantalizing hint of Hayes's stage show: his range extends from alto croon to piercing falsetto, and his melismatic flutters and curlicues add humor and emotional resonance. He's strongest on soul/blues numbers like Tyrone Davis's "Turning Point" and the title song (a 1979 hit for the Spinners), though his harsh harmonica squalls also add urgency to his 12-bar blues. Audiences on the west side often request dance songs, so Hayes's repertoire is full of well-worn standards, but occasionally he'll slip in a tune like the wry "Mr. President," which showcases his wit as a lyricist ("The bedbug told the roach / Everything's gonna be all right"). He's learned to use his falsetto shriek as a punctuation mark rather than a gimmick, and he mimics his own vocal gymnatics almost note for note with harp skitters and sharp-toned jabs, melding a deep commitment to the blues with an impish sense of fun. Friday and Saturday, 9:30 PM, Rosa's Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage; 773-342-0452.


Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
February 05
Performing Arts
February 02

Popular Stories