For those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning, you will recall that Lisa’s brother, Uncle Jesse, was a major part of our life the first few years after she died. He was instrumental in healing our family as well as in helping to logistically keep things going.
It’s hard to escape Hayes Permar’s mug these days — but why would you want to? The Raleigh native has leveraged his many skills into a one-man media empire, with songs, videos, social commentary, thoughtfulness and humor all rolled into one Raleigh-bred package. And if you are one of the few people who hasn’t seen any of his work, be sure to check him out on Twitter @DHPIV, or over at Raleigh & Co. with his “Triangle Traveler” or ”NC Yesterday Today”series, or you can hear his dulcet tones on the mic at Carolina Mudcats games. We are so pleased to feature Hayes in the latest edition of ”A Capital Conversation.”
Raleigh Philosophical Society (RPS): Tell us a little bit about your childhood. I can only assume from your impeccable sense of style and soft Southern lilt that you were born and raised in Raleigh and are actually descended from the First Men*?
Hayes Permar (HP): I grew up in Raleigh, but my parents didn’t. My family moved here following my Dad’s parents’ decision to settle here after my grandfather retired from the Coast Guard. My parents met in D.C., where my oldest sister was born, and then came to Raleigh, where my other sister and I were born. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in.
I went to Wake County Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade (Washington, Martin, Broughton). I spent a lot of time at the Hillsborough Street YMCA–first as a camper, then as a counselor both there and at Camp Sea Gull–1st Presbyterian Church downtown, and the house of my best friend growing up, Andrew Johnson, who had two brothers–that’s where I learned sports and video games and other “guy” stuff. I grew up mostly a white, suburban Raleigh life…but OF the white, suburban Raleigh kids, I probably had a more diverse upbringing (in range of activities, experiences, people I interacted with) than most. Betraying my mother’s side of the family, I have no style, but you’re kind to say that.
RPS: You are a multi-talented individual. How did you first begin getting into music?
HP: I grew up in a musical family, and now realize how lucky I was (in a musical sense) to be the youngest, meaning I almost literally grew up listening to 4-part harmony. I resisted yet absorbed some piano training at a young age, sponged up a few years of teenage guitar lessons, and then have mostly tinkered with piano/guitar/whatever else I came across ever since.
My parents and sisters had a fairly wide taste of music that I grew up listening to–Paul Simon, The Beatles, Broadway, the Big Chill Soundtracks and Beach music, Folk/Bluegrass, some classical music, popular (’80s at the time). I could sing every song that came on Oldies 100.7 word for word. I’ve added a few genres–alternative in the ’90s, rap in the 2000s–of my own, but I’m not a guy who devours new music. I sort of take it in via osmosis when I’m around people who really know and love music. I learn and adopt what they like.
Photo by Steve Larson/Theatre In The Park,
costumes by Shawn Larson/Theatre In The Park
HP: Going off memory, I’m pretty sure I was in ‘ACC’ from 1983-1986 and from ’84-’86 I was Tiny Tim. (There were often two Tiny Tims and we alternated shows to stay rested.) At some point in those four years all of my family was either in the cast of the accompanying band. In 2006 & 2007, I was in the cast with my oldest sister, Lisa, and my oldest niece, Bailey. I played the role of Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. In 2011-2013, I was in the cast with all three of Lisa’s daughters and her husband–I played varying roles as a townsperson/dancer.
How long have you been doing the PA for the Carolina Mudcats
? And give us three reasons why people should attend Mudcats games? (And one of the reasons can not be the lack of stoplights between Raleigh and Five County Stadium. That’s not only a given, it is awesome.)
HP: This is my second year with the Mudcats, but legit (i.e., not just saying this because I work there now) I attended a good number of Mudcats game for several years before I had the PA gig.
Ok, five reasons in no order….
1) Related to what you said but not quite the same: It’s just as close to Raleigh as the Bulls. Maybe closer. Especially if you’re considering 5:30/6 p.m. traffic
2) Last year they built a huge screen. They also added enough camera/production equipment to broadcast all home games on MiLB.com at a level not TOO far off what you’d expect from ESPN. It is by far your best chance of getting a picture/Snapchat of yourself on a cool jumbotron in the Triangle.
3) They serve Red Oak. It was an N.C. craft beer before it was cool to be an N.C. craft beer and they’re good.
4) The Braves are so bad you could be seeing a player that might be starting in Atlanta the next night.
5) Much like the Wolfpack is one of the few (if not only) mascots that have a Mr. AND Mrs. Wuf representing, the Mudcats are the rare team that boast a Muddy mascot and a mini-Muddy.
RPS: As producer at David Glenn Show, you were able to land the POTUS. That had to be an amazing experience – especially from a sports POV. How did that happen, and what was that experience like?
HP: I mean, it was cool, no question about that. I was living in D.C. when President Obama was elected/inaugurated, so aside from what else his tenure means historically, I’ll always feel a connection to his presidency. Because I was living in D.C. at the time, I had a number of folks I always knew I might turn to if I ever had a good reason to request an interview with the President.
Dean Smith had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom under the Obama White House, so when he passed away I thought it might be the time to ask. When the White House’s first response before noon on a Sunday was something like “this is an interesting request — we will process and be in touch,” I had this strange feeling it would work out. I was nervous and excited and ready to be dejected right up until the minute I had him on the phone–I barely remember telling Roy Williams, “Coach, we may have to pull you off on short notice if the President calls in ahead of schedule”–but, again, there was his strange calm it would work out even as I knew any minor world/national event could derail the whole thing.
Talking to him I fell mostly into my normal producer groove–I always tried to loosen/lighten the guest up a little bit. He was easy to talk to and cracked jokes on me. My sister Sallie, an accomplished doctor, had won an award in medicine from the White House the year before, so I brought that up and he told me she was way more impressive than I was, which was spot on.
David did a great job with the interview–he played it very cool and then, sensing President Obama was very comfortable in the conversation, he went from talking Dean Smith to basketball to other, less serious, stuff. He nailed it.
I also told President Obama I regretted never playing in a pick-up game with him, which is true. The interview was cool, but I probably believed I had a 50/50 shot at playing hoops with him at the time he was inaugurated and I’m still ticked I couldn’t make that happen.
RPS: You had the opportunity to be the Sklar Brothers’ tour guide when they came to town. How did you determine what you wanted to show off of our fair city? Were there things you purposely avoided?
It was great to meet those guys and learn that, in addition to being incredibly talented and funny, they are also good, real people. We have a mutual friend who put us in touch and it happened to be a week they were shooting for this new pilot “Find The Funny”
on Travel Channel. We met up after their dinner at Beasley’s one night to cross reference what they had planned versus what I thought was “real Raleigh.” (Yes, Clyde Cooper’s for lunch and PR for a State game is Raleigh; No, the topless coffee food stand is just something that looks good in a BuzzFeed article but doesn’t really hit home for Raleighites.)
I thought the show–both their live comedy set and the pilot that aired on Travel–did an outstanding job capturing the essence of Raleigh. Did you see it?
(Note: Yes, I saw it and loved it. I DVR’d it and showed it to friends, who all appreciated it. Would love to see more.)
RPS: Now on to SportsChannel8. I assume that 75 percent of the content on that site is specifically geared toward mocking the Washington Capitals on their lack of a Stanley Cup title, but maybe I’m off a bit on that? How would you describe the site?
HP: That’s recency bias. At most we’re 69 percent devoted to mocking the Caps lack of Cups.
The media landscape generally–and the sports media landscape specifically–are in flux right now. SportsChannel8.com expects to be a part of that flux. We’ll have a lot of stuff coming out of there soon.
Oddly enough it didn’t get as many views as some of the other videos we put out in the past year, but, to your point, I wasn’t really “surprised.” Knowing the landscape, you kind of get the idea how to play the game…Mega-popular song + universally known sporting event x proper execution=a certain number of views. I was just glad the writing was good enough to overcome the singing. (If you can’t view the videos, go straight to www.therealfullhouse.wordpress.com
RPS: You’ve also begun doing some great work over at Raleigh & Co. How did that happen, and what types of things are you doing over there?
HP: I was impressed with the Raleigh & Company idea/layout from the time it launched. Over its years of existence I’ve gotten to know several of the folks involved in it. After leaving the David Glenn Show I was looking for opportunities to do multiple forms of media, especially video, and they were looking to do more multi-media so it was a perfect fit.
RPS: You produced a very touching response to the Orlando shooting. What was that process like? And what were some of the most moving responses you received about it?
HP: That was pure reaction. I was ready to watch the Sunday morning shows and instead they were talking about the shootings. And at the time I was watching (or maybe I was catching up on Twitter) I saw the fatalities go from 20 to 50. It just hit me. Felt like sharing something. Hard to gauge response–there are people who will support/like your posts no matter what. If people see you stepping out on a limb a little bit, they’re even more likely to try to support you, regardless of if they really think about what you’re saying. I guess I felt like I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.
RPS: What do you do in your free time, besides showing up unannounced and playing people’s pianos? When do you sleep? DO you ever sleep?
HP: I don’t sleep, I nap. And the good thing about being self-employed is that it’s all free time until I decide how to use it.
RPS: As an expert on all things Raleigh, what are your favorite hangouts? Anything specific from each place?
HP: I like the Trophy Wife at Trophy, the roast chicken at Poole’s, french baguette at Yellow Dog, burgers at the PR and Char Grill, chicken pastry at K&W, jamocha day at Goodberry’s, sweet tea at Big Ed’s, milkshakes at MoJoe’s. The vibe and the staff at Stanbury might make it the coolest setting in Raleigh. Death and Taxes makes sure you get the most–food and service wise– out of the money you will inevitably spend eating there.
As someone who has a vested interested in the city, what would you like to see happen in the area over the next 5-10-20
years? What does this area lack? What do we do well?
HP: I hope as we grow as a city we are most mindful of people and communities that have been neglected or kept down by past instances of growth.
RPS: What is something that people may not know about you?
HP: There is a lot people don’t know about me.
RPS: And, finally, who would you like to play you in the “Hayes Permar Story” one day?
HP: If I’m doing it right, the documentary will be more interesting than the movie.
*Little known group of people who actually settled in the Hayes Barton area of Raleigh about 5 years before Jamestown. Or maybe it’s a GoT reference. I forget.