- Mitch Hayes – Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Vocals
- Eric Lovell – Electric Guitars, Bass, Dobro, Mandolin, Percussion, Lap Steel, Background Vocals
- Erin Hayes – Flute, Background Vocals
- Jordan Hayes – Background Vocals
- John Spurrier – Drums
- Jason Atkins – Piano, Rhodes, Organ
- Austin Cline – Cello
- Rick Blackwell – Electric & Upright Bass
- Tony Prior – Pedal Steel Guitar
- H L Ruth IV – Banjo
- John Culbreath – Fiddle
- Mike Alicke – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
- Gigi Dover – Background Vocals
- Gang Vocals on Helping Hand – Mitch Hayes, Erin Hayes, Jordan Hayes, Timothy Curley
Originally the Album title was going to be Home Again, with that song as the title track. But one day, and I cannot recall exactly when, I began to muse on the lyrics of the songs. Many of them deal with personal heroes that I have had in my life. In fact, the fabric of this record is permeated with them, with thoughts of and appreciation for those men and women living and dead whose words and lives have inspired me to reach for the stars, to strive to become the best me I can be.
Not long afterward, in a dream, I saw the picture of a guitar with the word Heroes written across it using the sound hole as the “O.” When I woke up and began to again reflect on the lyrics of many of the songs, it occurred to me that this was more about the heroes in my life and that should be the title of this album. I told Erin what I had dreamed and she photographed one of my guitars, and drew the picture that is now on the front cover. What blew my mind, she actually drew the exact thing I saw in my dream. I suppose this was meant to be. We all need heroes in our lives. It is my hope that whoever listens to this record will be inspired to reflect on and appreciate their own personal heroes.
- Look At You: – I wrote this little love song forty-some years ago, for a girlfriend at the time. It was my very first foray into the world of songwriting. As I recall, it did it’s job, proclaiming my undying love for the young lady. Why, I can still see the smile on her face and the tear in her eye as I played it for her for the first time. I continue to play this song in my shows, to this day. There’s just something cool about including a song I wrote so long ago, on this project.
- The Hardest Thing – Love. What an incredible, yet sometimes unattainable thing. So often we end up having to just say goodbye, having exhausted every fiber of strength we had in trying to keep love alive. I had this chord progression and tune in my head and while working them out, the thought of what my son was going through with his significant other came to mind. Watching him go through the process of letting go became the fuel for this song. The fact that it’s kind of a “crying in your beer” country song makes it even that much more poignant.
- All My Heroes – First in the line of songs on this record to echo the “Heroes” theme, this one came about as I was musing over the fact that so many of my musical heroes are no longer with us. I chose four such individuals who literally changed the world, musically as well as socially. Elvis gave us “Rock N Roll.” Lennon and The Beatles changed it forever, opening the door to a wave of creativity the likes of which we may never see again. Jimi may just be the greatest guitarist who has ever lived. Sure there are players who can copy his licks note for note, but Jimi played them with “soul.” No one will ever copy that. Then there was Janis, the lady who could sing the blues, like no other. Her art was something special.
- Hand of the Devil – This song is just plain fun. I love old westerns, especially the “Gunfighter” movies. I imagined the hero of our story, a gun for hire vigilante played by John Wayne of course, going after the villainous but now aging gunslinger, played by none other than Lee Marvin. When the confrontation occurs he is at the end of his career. His days of being a gun for hire long gone, he says to our hero, “I’m just an old man, in a young man’s game. You’ll have to kill me or die trying, you’ll never take me back alive!” I thought it was cool to have my son, the actor, do a voice-over of the villain as he was being confronted by this younger version of himself. Like I said, just plain fun. Oh and yes, it’s my first murder ballad.
- All Fall Down – I wrote this song after watching the news one morning. There was story after story about violence and injustice, armed conflict, not just the military but street thugs and robbers gunning down innocent victims, and yes even policemen doing the same. Such senseless and needless hatred and cruelty, one human being to another has no place in a modern society. Race, religion, politics, gender and sexual preference should never be fuel for such insanity. Yet, sadly, these days it seems they are just that. Filled with anger and a sense of sadness and grief over a society where this kind of behavior could go on seemingly unchecked, I just had to speak out.
- Home Again – Addiction, not a pleasant subject at all, is the focus of this song. My own personal struggles and the struggles I have observed in the lives of so many friends and family members, were the spark that ignited this song. Addiction, such a broad and all-encompassing term, is used to label so many of the pitfalls in life. Drugs, sex, food, gambling, the approval and the acceptance of other people are all forms of addiction. There are many more. “Goodbye my old friend, you were never my friend at all!”
- Helping Hand – This song was inspired by, of all things, a post I saw on Facebook. The picture was of a down and out person standing in a pit, while another person was standing above ground holding out a hand to the one in the pit. The caption said, “Don’t look down on me unless you’re helping me up.” I thought that was rather brilliant. It occurred to me that one time or another in life, we all need a helping hand. What we don’t need is ridicule or judgement. So true!
- Ashes & Dust (Erin’s Song) – This is a song about being rescued from depression. A few years ago I was in a dark place in my life. I was depressed, lost, just going through the motions, not really living. I was struggling emotionally, spiritually, mentally, while trying to keep alive a relationship that was unhealthy and unsalvageable. Once a huge part of my life, writing and playing music had all but faded into the past. Recognizing the state her father was in, my very wise daughter called me one day and suggested we do an open mic together. We did and what happened next was truly a rebirth! I found me, again. The power of music and the love of a daughter for her father saved me and brought me back to life! In a very real way, she is my hero.
- A Peaceful Revolution – I remember the night the local news announced that Nelson Mandela had passed away. The thought came to me, “Someone should write a song to honor that man.” You see, he was somewhat of a spiritual hero to me. He spent his life fighting the atrocity that is Racism, a thing I so vehemently despise. And then, as I sat down to write, something magical happened. More spiritual heroes, soldiers against injustice, came to mind. Though there were many, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi along with Mandela became the focal points in this song. I hope these lyrics spark in others, the desire to see an end to social injustice, in all of its ugly manifestations. It’s about damn time!
- Life Goes On – I wrote this song for my Mom and Dad, an amazing couple now in their 80’s, having led a pretty interesting life together. I tried to imagine how they might feel, nearing the end of their life while looking back on those years through the window of wisdom and experience that can only come from having lived them. I chose four stages of life to speak to, teenager, young adult, middle age and old age. These are important stops along the pathway of life, filled with fear and trepidation along with wonder and hopefulness. This was a fun and thought provoking undertaking, for sure.
- Something Deep Within – This song came about one day while I was plucking away on my banjo. I had this mournful old-timey Appalachian style melody going around in my head, then the words just started to come. A mournful sound needed mournful words, and that’s what came. It felt like I was sitting on an old fashioned porch in another place and time pining over the loss of a lover. Any resemblance to persons or places is strictly unintended. But, if it fits …
- Home Again (Reprise) –