Joel Hayes’ life as a fiddler began when he took up the violin in grade school, but then it stalled in the seventh grade. Years later, while attending the 1989 Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, he was inspired by the music of Doc Watson and the bands Hot Rize and New Grass Revival.
The next year of his life was pivotal musically. While living in Lawrence, Kansas, he picked up the fiddle and also discovered contra dancing! When he moved to Greeley, Colorado in 1991 he began taking fiddle lessons from violinist and fiddler, Eric Levine. He attended the “Berea Christmas Dance Week” in Kentucky where Gib Gilbert, the host at the time, nudged him into playing for the late night contra dance (his first!). Not long after that, Joel joined an open mike night at a Denver Contra Dance hosted by fiddler Anita Dolan. On stage with him were musicians Deb Carstensen, Tina Gugeler, Denise Berg and John and Susan Reading. Several of those musicians, including Joel, formed the great band Contrafusion.
His mentors include Eric Levine and Old-Time fiddler Dave Brown. Joel has become one of our “crossover musicians,” able to play both New England and Old-Time musical styles. Currently starring in 2 bands, look and listen for Joel in The Off Beats (Joel, Marni Rachmiel, and Rodney Sauer) or in Late for the Dance (Joel, Jeff Haemer, and friends). In his day job, Joel is a lawyer for people with disabilities.