Max Hay: Scratching Another Flea

Max Hay: Scratching Another Flea
Venues & Businesses
Rustle Hill Winery

Who: Max Hay
What: comedy, singer / songwriter
When: 2014-10-02 - 2014-10-04
Homeless underground troubadour Max Hay will bring his unique stage act to Southern Illinois for two
Brian Wilson

Homeless underground troubadour Max Hay will bring his unique stage act to Southern Illinois for two performances, one Thursday, October 2 at PK’s and the other Saturday, October 4 at Rustle Hill.

Hay’s act blends music and comedy in creative ways, incorporating stories, anecdotes, and a degree of fun and spontaneity not often found in most live shows. Musically, his work draws from across genres, including aspects of country, blues, and folk. Hay has toured across the globe, including two previous stops in Southern Illinois, and is currently promoting his most recent album, Another Flea.

Hay notes that his inspiration for doing this kind of show came both from his natural role as class clown as a kid, but also from his father’s love of folk music.

“I’ve always enjoyed being the center of attention,” he tells Nightlife. “In terms of music, my dad was a big fan of Leo Kottke and Jim Croce and Bob Dylan, so I grew up with a high amount of respect for these folk singer/songwriters.”

Hay says he feels it’s best to tap into the natural creative energy of a live show and work spontaneously. He admits that in doing this kind of act, he has to be ready to switch gears at a moment’s notice.

“I go in for as little prep as possible,” he says. “The more I prepare, the more I find things go not the way I wanted them to. I just try to go in with a good mindset, maybe meditate a little bit. I choose from maybe five or six songs and then I don’t know where its gonna go. I just look around the room and get an idea of what people want to hear.”

He stresses that the audience is the most important element in the direction his shows take.

“I like to play off of them,” he explains. “I like to hear what people have to say in the middle of the songs.... [T]here’s no reason to not just go with the flow and see what happens with the night.”

Because of this approach to live performance, Hay says no two shows of his are ever alike.

“The shows different every time,” he says. “Sometimes I can tell people want to be a little more engaged than other nights. Sometimes I tell stories about my day or stories about how my sister used to beat me up as a little kid. Or like at Rustle Hill last time, it turned into a gameshow that was really fun. But then other times people just want me as background music, so then I’ve got to adapt to that.

“To do this job you gotta be ready to play for any audience at any time,” he adds. “If you want to eat, you gotta be ready to field any mood of any audience.”

Aside from his accomplishments as a musician, one of the most fascinating things about Hay is that he’s homeless and has been living in his van for eight years. He doesn’t keep a residence or have a day job, all of his own volition.

“It started because I wanted to see if I could do it for a summer,” he explains. “It was always something I just wanted to try, then I made it through the summer and just kept going.”

But Hay admits that he wouldn’t have it any other way: “Just like with any business, it gets a little bit better as time goes on, to the point that I don’t know what else I would do now.”

For more information about Hay and to hear samples of his music, visit <>.

who: Max Hay

what: comedy, singer / songwriter

where: PK’s; Rustle Hill

when: Thursday, October 2; Saturday, October 4