It was the summer of 2002 and he was sitting in the living room of his Maple Street home when the phone rang. On the other end was his friend, Shane Gregorio, telling him to turn the radio on. He got up, adjusted the dial to 102.7 WEQX, and couldn’t believe what he was hearing: Blaring from the speakers was “Air,” a song written and performed by him and his friends’ band, Livingston Bramble.
“I turned it on and heard us on the radio,” Hyatt said. “That was kind of a magical summer. That was the first real band I was a part of and it kind of lit a fire under me to play music for the next 10 years.”
That song and 18 others are featured on a new album that will be released next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany. An alternate release party will be held the following evening at 9 p.m. at Big G’s Pub in Whitehall.
“Brasi: Covered in Dirt 1999-2012” is a collection of songs compiled from nearly 100 tracks Hyatt has recorded with six different bands. And despite its appearance as a greatest hits album, Hyatt likes to describe it as a documentary on his musical involvement.
“It’s more of an audio biography of where I’ve been for the last 13 years,” he said. “I fell in love with the idea of putting six of the bands I’ve fronted all on one record. I think that’s the most unique thing about this project, the idea of a common thread running through so many musical styles. It’s not very often that you have one artist who has been in six different bands.”
The album is a journey through Hyatt’s musical tastes. There’s the heavy metal track “Force the Spring” by Whisper to Apocalypse, the “straight rock” sounds of Flakjaket, and the reggae-infused, Jack Johnson beats of Seven’s “Jamaica.” There are also songs from The Joe Mama Band and The Brasi Project. “It runs the gamut of genres,” Hyatt said.
Hyatt, a North Greenbush resident and 1989 graduate of Whitehall High School, has been playing music his entire life. “It’s just something I love doing,” he says.
At one point, he was playing more than 70 shows a year, appearing in bars and concert halls from Whitehall to Manhattan. And while he’s still active, he admits his musical involvement has begun to slow down, which was part of the impetus for the album.
“I was at the point where I wasn’t doing as much musically and I thought it would be a good time to document what I’ve done,” Hyatt said. “I might never have the clarity I have now. I didn’t want to lose a song.”
So he and his sons, who are in bands themselves, sat down and started choosing the tracks they thought should appear on the album. His older son tended to chose the harder, edgier sound of Whisper to Apocalypse, while his younger son, a drummer, gravitated to the back beats of Seven. “For the most part, we were all in agreement on the songs,” Hyatt said.
He was quick to point out that the album wouldn’t have been possible if not for his fellow band mates. “I’ve always felt that I am surrounded by the best musicians in the world. None of these songs would exist without them. I feel very lucky to have worked with the guys I have worked with.”
After the release, Hyatt will move on to some new projects. He can be heard touring with Bill Frandino as part of Brown Dirt Mafia and he’s working on a new album with guitarist Brian Slattery, and another with Grammy-nominee Marc Fuller.
But the one thing he’s looking forward to most is playing with and listening to his sons. “I’m getting older. I’m more active as a band dad now,” Hyatt said. “I don’t think you can really be a rock star after 40.”
And while he may be right, Hyatt is proof that you can still rock out.