Tahoe music: Miss Lonely Hearts bringing classic California country
Special to the Sun
If you go
What: Music on the Beach feat. Miss Lonely Hearts
Where: Kings Beach State Recreation Area
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19
More online: northtahoebusiness.org/music-on-the-beach
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Born and raised in Central Valley farm town of Winters, Wyatt Hesemeyer is a country boy at heart. He comes across as honest and insightful. And he doesn’t play an expensive guitar.
“It’s a total beater $300 Seagull that sounds better than my Martin guitar,” he admits. “It broke my heart. I don’t appreciate, but I definitely acknowledge it. My theory is that these are the guitars hipsters are going to be pining after in 20 years.”
As the bandleader of Santa Cruz’s Miss Lonely Hearts, Hesemeyer has been playing about eighty shows a year since 2011, showcasing his blend of inventive songwriting and classic country covers made new.
His band’s sound harkens back to an older, simpler times, but its stories are rooted in the modern day.
“We are trying to reintroduce a modern generation to how good classic country used to be, but in a way people can resonate with,” he explains. “None of it is necessarily biographical, but more so observations of things that I see in everyday life. Lives of people I know and love, or people I see on the street and wonder how their life might be.”
Although he’s been called a dead ringer for young Bruce Springsteen with a voice to match, Hesemeyer has no pretensions to fame. To him, spreading the reach of classic country music is compensation enough.
“If in 10 years we are still doing what we are doing now I would be thrilled,” he says. “Playing music with my best friends is the best vacation I could ask for. If people are appreciating the music more, that would make it for it. I think country music is going to have its day in the sun.”
Miss Lonely Hearts recently released their fourth album, Lost Highway, a compilation of classic country covers to complement their original material.
“Over the years of playing we’ve cultivated a pretty good set of cover songs,” Hesemeyer says. “Our theory has always been if you can’t do it as good as the original, do it so different that they can’t compare the two. We wanted to make it so different that people don’t notice we are playing their favorite song until the end.”
Wyatt’s Top Five Classic Country Songs
“Country music is a genre derived out of the loss of what once was. Born out of the diaspora of people moving from rural settings into cities, and giving up the lives of simplicity they knew for lives of industrial toil and strife, country music gave a voice to the estrangement these people felt,” Wyatt Hesemeyer says. “That message rings true to this day, and that is why these musicians have endured the test of time and continue to be relevant in a drastically different world.”
When asked Hesemeyer to name his favorite country songs, here’s what he came up with:
Weary Blues From Waitin’ by Hank Williams Sr.: “The saddest lost love song ever written. No one can ignore the desperation in his voice and tears dropping in the lyrics.”
Looking at the World Through a Windshield by Del Reeves: “Best driving song of all time. Anyone who lives on the road can identify.”
Always Late with Your Kisses by Lefty Frizzell: “One of the most emotive singers in country. Paved the way for a lot of singers, including Merle Haggard.”
Thunderstorms and Neon by Wayne Hancock: “A simple story about a life spent on the road. Unbelievably descriptive with such ease of phrase. Every songwriter is striving for a song of this caliber.”
When I Stop Dreaming by The Louvin Brothers: “Early country styling done with such unaffected beauty and honesty. This really highlights how far the genre has strayed from these necessary attributes.”
Visit misslonelyheartsband.com to learn more about Miss Lonely Hearts.
Sean McAlindin is a North Tahoe musician and freelance writer. He’s a member of the Truckee band Lost Whiskey Engine, among other musical endeavors.