R.L. Hayden prepares for Tobin Center show



Pleasanton’s own R.L. Hayden will release “Texas Songwriter” at his album release concert on Friday, May 17. This marks Hayden’s second time as a headliner at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio.

Hayden has been playing recently at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine in Gruene.

“Texas Songwriter” is his 11th full-length album.

“It’s songs that I wrote with Robert Earl Keen and Aaron Watson. I also wrote one with Kevin Fowler, Bubba Strait and Bill Whitbeck, who is the bass player from Robert Earl Keen’s band,” said Hayden.

The album also features songs Hayden wrote on his own. He recorded the old Gary P. Nunn classic, “What I Like About Texas.”

“The last few years he’s been real helpful… like when we were touring he would call and check on how things were going and put me on some shows here and there. He’s been a big supporter and I’ve always loved that song, so I thought it would be a good album to record it for.”

Hayden added while his last concert was more of a Western theme, this one will feature more songs like these that he has written with different Texas artists.

“I saw that Aaron just had a huge show at the Poteet Strawberry Festival. Hopefully people around will recognize some of those names and be excited about the album, because we are really excited about it.”

About last year’s To- bin Center show, Hayden describes it as one of his most favorite.

“I’m really looking forward to this one again, because it’s just a great room and the venue is so amazing. The sound system is kind of incomparable to anywhere else in San Antonio that I’ve played. So it will be really fun.”

Tickets went on sale last Friday.

On this album, Hayden wrote “The Child in Me” with Bubba Strait. They wrote the song before either one of them had children.

“Now we’ve both got little boys, so it’s kind of neat. We kind of grew into the song and then I’ve got a couple of songs that I wrote while we were out on the road touring around that I’ve been playing live, but I haven’t recorded yet. One of the songs that I’m really excited about is called ‘I Can’t Go Back’ and I wrote it with Robert Earl Keen, which is always a neat thing, too. When I was growing up, he was kind of the guy that influenced me to even want to start writing songs.”

Being able to write songs with him, said Hayden, is always a surreal experience. The song is about leaving your hometown, going out on the road and then coming back fullcircle.

“So that song kind of goes along with our old theme of traveling around and touring, but it always seems like we come back around. All of our real big moments and shows seem to always be in San Antonio, playing in South Texas or the Pleasanton area, so that’s always special.”

Hayden wrote the song “A Night in San Antonio” with Bill Whitbeck.

“It’s basically a song about a group of people going out to NIOSA and ending up at Mi Tierra’s and it ties in the Menger. It is kind of a fun story about a night out in San Antonio.”

On Hayden’s Facebook page, he is requesting fans to send in photos taken at various San Antonio locations and landmarks. The photos will be used for the song’s video.

“We’ve got a ton of pictures from people out on the River Walk and at Spurs games, and all kinds of different things. So we’re going to put out a video that sort of goes along with the song and features everybody’s nights out in San Antonio. It will be a fun thing that I think will be out not this week, but next week.”

The event at the Tobin Center is being presented by Johnny Ringo’s Burrito, which also has a local connection, as owner Jon Van Blaricum is a former resident of Pleasanton.

“Yeah, we’re really excited about that because we have a long connection as friends and I love his burritos. In fact, two years ago when we were touring in Las Vegas, we stayed with him for a few days and he actually gave us a whole taste-test, and this was before they were in HE B, so it’s been really neat to watch it go from there to now- they are all over the state. So to be able to partner together on this makes it even more special, to have the presenting sponsor be somebody that you have a relationship with.”

Hayden said the music and his family’s business, Hayden Homestead Company, go hand in hand.

“We’re just kind of bouncing around doing both of those things and the coffee, it’s worked out to where Shenna (Hayden’s wife) and my sister (Jennifer Blanton) kind of handle the food truck and I’m getting geared up for playing a bunch of shows again and getting this record out.”

Next week, the family will head to Colorado to visit Shenna’s parents. Before they do so, he plans to load up on Poteet berries to take to them.

Hayden recently performed at the Houston Rodeo.

“I got to help close out the rodeo this year and then I just played the Montgomery County Fair this past weekend which was a big show. Then I played Gruene Hall twice this past month during both spring breaks, so yeah, this past month is getting to be busy again.”

Other scheduled events include the Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Cook-off in October in Tennessee and some shows in Europe for 2020.

What does he enjoy about performing?

“I record albums so that I can play live, because really for what I do, it’s really about the live experience and the live performance, so I really love just going and playing for people, whether it’s 10 people or 1,000. I think it’s just something about the live experience that you can’t really capture on an album. And of all the live experiences, once you put it in a room like the Tobin Center, then it really brings it to even a different level to where it is really enjoyable, I think for both me and also for the listeners, to where it makes it into a special moment.”

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