LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Though Colin Hay made an indelible mark on pop music back in the ‘80s, he’s been far from idle in the years since his unmistakable tenor and witty, ska-inflected songs sent Australian band Men at Work to the top of the charts. His second-chapter career includes 12 solo albums (his latest, Next Year People, was released in February on Compass Records) and a variety of acting gigs; multiple appearances in the TV show Scrubs alone endeared him to a new generation of fans.
Of course, he’s kept his nose to the touring grindstone, too, organically growing his audience the old-fashioned way — by putting on the kinds of shows people tell their friends about. Following the success of his Last Summer on Earth outing with Barenaked Ladies and Violent Femmes this past summer, Hay is embarking on a solo excursion across the Midwest and Northeast starting Oct. 29 in Cleveland. Naturally, he’ll showcase tracks from the new release, which Rhythms magazine called “his latest admirable installment,” adding, “there is more than enough to confirm that he has lost none of his ability to craft openhearted songs with insightful lyrics and catchy melodies.”
Allmusic.com described the album as “warm, welcoming … a friendly letter from an old pal” and “plenty charming.” Glide magazine labeled it “beautiful and thought-provoking.”
The title song takes on the perspective of farmers struggling to survive the Depression and Dust Bowl droughts that also inspired some of Woody Guthrie’s greatest work. In “Waiting in the Rain,” Hay sings about his parents and memories of their Scottish music shop, where his young ears picked up the sounds of myriad instruments and countless hit singles. (The family moved to Australia when he was 14.)
The longtime Los Angeles resident produced all but one track: “Are We There Yet?,” which was co-written with Richard Jacques and Renee Stahl and co-produced by Jacques and album mixerChad Fischer (The Practice, Scandal). Major contributors include young Cuban emigres San Miguel Perez and Yosmel Montejo, plus pianist Larry Goldings, pianist/Hammond player Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel), drummer Charlie Paxson, and Colin’s wife, vocalist Cecilia Noël.Michael Georgiades, who co-wrote six of the album’s 12 tracks, also contributed guitar and backing vocals.
Hay’s solo career has included several forays into film and TV; Scrubs creator and longtime fan Zach Braff also included Hay’s “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You,” on the Grammy-winning soundtrack to the film Garden State. Hay’s “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” can be heard on the soundtrack to the film Words and Pictures. He also voiced a character in the animated film The Wild.
Hardly one to rest on old laurels (though the set does include the hits “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Overkill,” which contributed to his former band’s Best New Artist Grammy win), Hay’s latest activities include producing a live performance/in-depth interview Web series with weekly installments focusing on songs from Next Year People. He’s also the subject of the documentaryColin Hay: Waiting for My Real Life, directed by Nate Gowtham for Diving Indian Films, which recently made its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Hay is now selling out multiple nights at venues such as Alexandria, Va.’s legendary Birchmere, where he recently regaled fans with anecdotes about life as a musician who’s never stopped working. Catch him at one of the following tour stops:
Thu., Oct. 29 CLEVELAND, OH Trinity Cathedral
Sat., Oct. 31 MADISON, WI Barrymore Theatre
Sun., Nov. 1 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Pantages Theatre
Mon., Nov. 2 IOWA CITY, IA The Englert Theatre
Tue., Nov. 3 BLOOMINGTON, IN Buskirk-Chumley Theater
Thur., Nov. 5 MILWAUKEE, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
Fri., Nov. 6 CHICAGO, IL The Vic Theatre
Sat., Nov. 7 CINCINNATI, OH Taft Theatre
Sun., Nov. 8 ANN ARBOR, MI The Ark
Tue., Nov. 10 WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ Pollak Auditorium
Thu.-Fri., Nov. 12-13 ALEXANDRIA, VA The Birchmere
Sat., Nov. 14 GLENSIDE, PA Keswick Theatre
Sun., Nov. 15 RIDGEFIELD, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Tue., Nov. 17 ITHACA NY Hangar Theatre
Thu., Nov. 19 NEW YORK, NY The Town Hall
Fri., Nov. 20 CONCORD, NH Capitol Center for the Arts
Sat., Nov. 21 BOSTON, MA Wilbur Theatre