Hawkey hails from a small town along the Ohio-Indiana border - a place where he spent countless hours daydreaming about life as a famous musician. Hawkey says a personal favorite has always been John “Cougar” Mellencamp. Mellencamp’s lyrics, such as those from his all-time favorite song, “Minutes to Memories,” kept him during sad or lonely moments...and inspired him not to let go of his musical aspirations.
“Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can.”
Hawkey took these words to heart; at age 15, he began performing in bars near his hometown. Knowing he wanted music to be his life’s work, but needing a “contingency plan,” Hawkey signed up for radio broadcasting school after graduating high school. This turn out to be a fortuitous decision, as radio quickly became another passion. Hawkey says being a radio announcer also provides a very natural pathway to the music world.
As is the case with most radio DJs, Hawkey’s career carried him all over the United States, finally depositing him in the Twin Cities. Nowadays, Hawkey makes a home in the Twin Cities, where he’s a member of KFAN’s popular morning show, “The Power Trip.”
As he settled into his radio life here in MN, Hawkey discovered a vibrant local music scene. He enthusiastically began playing in a handful of cover bands before finding his niche with “Rocket Club.” Hawkey says the group just “clicked.” They immediately took to writing their own country rock songs, one of which was the breakout hit, and debut album namesake, “North Country.” The Billboard-rated song was the first of three nationally-rated and radio-played Rocket Club tunes. However, in spite of this success, Hawkey says the band was and has remained adamantly opposed to big business influences or record company pressure.
With the triumphs of Rocket Club under his belt, Hawkey set about doing something he’s always dreamed of - releasing his very own solo album. Hawkey says he couldn’t resist the bright lights and wealth of talent percolating in Nashville. He tapped into some of the top songwriters in the business - including smash hit-maker Lee Brice - in order to finish the self-titled record, which he describes simply as “from the heart, earnest country.”
And, long story short, you’ll be able to hear the fruits of Hawkey’s labors during this year’s Lakes Jam.
Unlike other music festivals he’s played, Hawkey says he appreciates Lakes Jam for the variety of artists and styles. With one night of country and another of rock, Hawkey says it becomes very clear just what kind of a strong connection the two genres have.
“Lakes Jam is kind of a no-brainer,” Hawkey says. “Frankly, I wish I’d come up with the idea!”
Catch Hawkey on the main stage on June 27th.