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Cornelius News

HC Oakes Band has a little coronavirus tune

The HC Oakes Band

July 8. By Dave Yochum. H.C. Oakes will soon turn 65 and he is cooler than ever. The retired business dude—he was a superstar MBA type at Altria, nee Philip Morris—started playing music in 2014 with Antiquity neighbor Nick Elhini and developed a local following for their mix of covers of rock standards and original tunes. The HC Oakes Band is now six members and sits near the top of the local music scene.

“People absolutely love live music around here, we have a vibrant music scene,” says Oakes, a fan of The Allman Bros., Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Tom Petty back in the 1970s. He bought his first guitar at age 16, dabbled a little here and there and didn’t do anything serious music-wise until he took early retirement six years ago.

He’s been playing ever since, growing the band from him and drummer Elhini to include Paul Marshburn, Micheal Robertson, Amy Ehrlich, David Nelson and the new kid on the block, Jimmy Jordan, a dentist when he’s not playing sax.

The pay is nothing to sing about: $400 to maybe $750 a night split among those who play. Oakes plows whatever money he makes back into guitars, amps and specialized equipment like high-tech ear monitors that can tune out other sounds. H.C., for Henry Calvin, works 15 to 20 hours a week promoting and booking the band—when there’s not a pandemic bringing live performances to a halt.

He also writes songs. The latest, “Herd Immunity,” is getting a lot of airplay on WSGE, the Gaston County College radio station.

“Phases comin down on me
phases one two and three
Phases no guarantees
phases make me crazy.”

Nailed it.