An unusual set of circumstances converged a year ago to create a country duo that’s starting to gain traction in the music world.
Friends introduced Chris Hamrick, a self-taught guitar player, to Nick Haynes, another singer-songwriter. Although they had never met, there was something special the first time they sang together. It was like their voices just seemed to fit. More than one acquaintance encouraged them to form a duo.
“One friend said, ‘Your harmonies are amazing. Y’all have got to play together,’” Hamrick said.
That was good advice.
Today the group Hamrick and Haynes is one of the area’s hottest local groups. They’ve been popular at small clubs and bars and are now getting a chance to play larger venues; they opened for Drivin N Cryin. Within six months of getting together, the harmony-based modern country act is selling out local paid venues and getting an opportunity to perform on larger stages. They’re now considering whether it’s time to make the move to Nashville.
“Things are taking off,” Hamrick said. “It’s very exciting. We’re just trying to hold on.”
Hamrick, 28, graduated from Dacula High School. His girlfriend at the time gave him a guitar, but he never learned to play. But when he was serving in the U.S. Navy, Hamrick asked his mother to ship the guitar to him “when I was floating somewhere around Somalia.” Before long he was entertaining his crewmates with his songs.
“Thing is, nobody in my family is musical,” he said. “People used to tell me in high school I kind of sounded like people you’d hear on the radio, but I never took it serious until I started playing the guitar.”
Haynes, 32, graduated from Loganville High School and grew up playing music in church. Haynes was going through some tough personal times when he was introduced to Hamrick. When mutual friends asked if it would be OK for Haynes to join Hamrick for a song, it didn’t take Hamrick long to realize the two should team up.
“He could really sing,” Hamrick said. “That was the missing link.”
The other regulars in the group are bassist Justin Brewer and drummer Michael Stewart. Several guitarists are in the rotation.
Their first song to enjoy radio play is “Second Time,” which they co-wrote with Alex Smith. When the group got together with friends to hear it on the air for the first time, Hamrick insisted they listen on a lower-quality radio, not some souped-up device with huge speakers.
“Hearing that song was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Hamrick said.
Their second single, titled “Malibu,” will be released Saturday to coincide with their live event at the 40 Watt Club in Athens.
Until then the group is staying busy in other ways. They recently held a concert after a Gwinnett Gladiators game. They played Fretting the Foothills Music Festival in Braselton in April and are booked for the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival in June. They will be performing on the Mall of Georgia stage in July. And they are waiting to be confirmed as the opening act for a pair of national country acts when they come through the Atlanta area.
They’re not afraid to think outside the box, either. During a recent visit to Nashville, they had a few minutes to kill, so they covered the Lanco song “Greatest Love Story” while in the parking garage. Somehow the band found out and “liked” it on their Facebook page. That resulted in about 20,000 new followers for Hamrick and Haynes, and further confirmed they were on the right path.
“I know this is what I’m meant to do and Nick knows this is what he’s supposed to do,” Hamrick said.
More than anything, they’re trying to maintain a close relationship with their followers. The singers try to individually thank each guest who comes to hear them perform.
“We try to make sure we get around to everyone and tell them how thankful we are,” Hamrick said. “We’re trying stay humble and keep going. That’s what we’re trying to do … hunker down and keep moving forward.”
Their schedule and samples of their music can be found at HamrickandHaynes.com and on their Facebook page.