I remember listening to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” from She’s So Unusual and not knowing till years later that Robert Hazard had actually written it. The Philadelphia legend wrote that song back in 1979 and though it was never really a hit for him and he wasn’t crazy about it being requested at shows over the years, the song has become a classic. More than 30 different artists throughout the years have covered it onstage and on disc including John Mayer, Pearl Jam and Miley Cyrus.
His legacy continues to live on through that famous song as well as his other varied musical successes. Robert Hazard was not only responsible for big hits like “Escalator Of Life” and “Change Reaction” with his band Robert Hazard and The Heroes, but he was also involved with more traditional sounds and Americana-based compositions during his life. Hazard actually started off as a country artist before beginning his quasi rock and roll journey. His last three projects were a return to his country roots and he recorded the highly acclaimed CD Troubadour on Rykodisc in 2007.
With the return to his Americana focus, Robert’s involvement with John Harris and the Singer Songwriter Cape May Music Festival as both a performer and keynote speaker looked to be another phase he was beginning to explore, but sadly, he passed away before this next installment.
John Harris shares his recollections: “I met Robert in the ‘80s when I traveled to see his band perform at Victory in Philadelphia and invited him to play Harrisburg’s Metron Night Club. Robert Hazard and The Heroes played there many times during that period as well as The Hooters, The A’s, Beru Revue and all the top Philly bands. Having grown up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and spent summers at the South Jersey shore, Robert was a natural first choice to be the musical keynote on the maiden voyage of the Singer Songwriter Of Cape May in 2008. He was actually scheduled to return this past summer when he was taken from us.”
Mr. Harris was approached by promoter Kathy Falcey (TunesToYa) who asked if anything had been planned as a tribute to Robert this year and with the gracious assistance of John and the permission of Roberts’s wife Susan, she came up with a fitting tribute for a true musical great.
She says of her involvement; “I started working with Robert Hazard back in April 2008, right after the Cape May Singer Songwriter Conference. Robert was in the process of getting into Nashville to perform for the yearly Americana Music Awards Conference when I got the call that he had passed away. I knew Robert had strong ties to Cape May and that everybody was happy to have him and Susan residing in this quiet beach town. Robert had many close personal friends that lived nearby as well as fans from all over. I just wanted to continue his legacy with a tribute for the many festival attendees that cared so much for his music.”
Fred DiTomasso will host the tribute show. Fred played bass with Robert Hazard from 1994 to 2008. He is presently performing with Hooters guitarist John Lilley. Very special guest Chris Barron from the Spin Doctors takes his turn as speaker, host and performer on Saturday at Congress Hall.
Featured players will be Nik Everett, a protégé of Hazard’s and Tommy Geddes, who played drums for a time in the Heros back in the late ‘80s, around the time of his Darling release, and was an original member of the Hombres in the early ‘90s when Robert jumped back into his Americana roots stuff.
The all-star tribute band will be comprised of Fred DiTomasso, Nik Everett, J.D. Malone, Tom Hampton and Tom Geddes along with other performances from New Jersey performers such as Lisa Bianco and Kelly Carvin. Also, Hazard’s Troubadour CD will be available after the tribute in the Tradeshow room and I suggest you grab one while they’re available; it’s phenomenal.
The Singer Songwriter Cape May is a two-day industry-aimed festival that will highlight the talent of over 150 musicians from all over the planet. This event is designed for songwriters of all genres and will feature music panels, songwriter workshops, clinics, mentoring and demo listening sessions along with special exhibits that will take place in Congress Hall. The event will also feature the support of 15 surrounding venues playing host to musical showcases and featuring the talent of musicians from as far away as Australia.
The event showcases are free to the public and registration for daytime events for non-performers is available through the website, sscapemay.com. For information on Robert Hazard and his musical legacy, head over to myspace.com/roberthazardmusic.