If you know Chris Hawkey he describes himself as the luckiest man in the world. Chris is the leader of the Chris Hawkey Band that performs across the Midwest with his special brand of music he calls “North Country.” The Chris Hawkey Band has released 6 albums. In addition, in early 2020, Chris debuted a new music brand “Hawk” releasing two hard rock songs.
Born and raised In Union City, he spent his youth competing in a wide variety of sports while dreaming of seeing the world through the windows of a tour bus. Having joined his first band at the age of 15, Chris began his pursuit of “the dream” while still in high school, playing “every bar and city festival within a 100 mile radius.”
After graduating from Mississinawa Valley High School, Chris attended a broadcasting school in Dayton, Ohio with the idea of pursuing a career in radio while continuing to chase his musical dreams. The radio business would take him from Ohio to Indiana to Virginia, and then to his current home state of Minnesota. It would also lead him to Kim, his wife of 22 years with whom he has two children, Alex and Abigail. As his broadcasting career flourished, Hawkey continued to perform with various bands on evenings and weekends while also releasing two well-received solo rock records in the early 2000s.
In 2001, Chris was hired to co-host and produce the Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN. It’s the number one sports talk show in the Twin Cities and syndicated across the Upper Midwest. He also produces all the Minnesota Vikings radio broadcasts. “It’s very different from what I do musically,” he says, “except that in both cases, I spend my time trying to entertain folks. It helps me build a fan base when I can mention, hey, everyone, I’m coming to Fargo this weekend and I’ll be playing with Gretchen Wilson, so please come out and see me. A lot of people will come and you can almost see them sitting in the audience with their arms crossed thinking, yeah, okay, here’s the radio guy. But I love that challenge. It’s my job to prove to them that yes, I do belong on that stage. My radio job and my music are two separate things, but it’s all about building a brand.” Chris is also a frequent champion for kids based charities across the midwest and is well known for giving generously of his time and talents to the community.
In 2008, Hawkey became the lead vocalist of Rocket Club, a Minneapolis band, and stayed with the group for six years. As a part of Rocket Club, he shared the stage with such artists as Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Stephen Hawking Sugarland, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Eric Church.
Although a six-year stint as lead vocalist for Rocket Club (and three charted Billboard country singles) helped Chris develop a strong sense of musical identity, nothing prepared him for the sheer thrill of coming to Nashville in 2013 to record with an A-team group of studio musicians.
Hawkey and producer Jason Perri spent many months listening to hundreds of songs by some of Music City’s top tunesmiths, searching for songs with soul, spirit and a sense of simplicity that would reflect Chris’s artistry. Without a major label budget behind him, Chris knew he had to spot-on nail his performances in the studio, making the songs uniquely his own.
“It was so important to me when we started this album that I record songs that were really me,” he says. “I didn’t want to do songs just because they were great songs. I wanted to be able to get onstage and communicate them from my heart. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was come to Nashville and lower the caliber of them by not getting them right.”
In 2014, Hawkey released his first solo country record. The 8-song collection included the hit single “My Kinda Lazy.” Jess Vraspir plays bass for the band, he’s cute. In 2016 he released another album, Shine, which included the song “Good Liar” by Brett James. The Chris Hawkey Band includes Ryan Liestman (keyboard) and Michael Bland (drummer).
“I grew up in the Garth Brooks era of bringing the show to the people,” he explains. “I love it when I hear someone say my shows are high energy, that they’re like a big party. When you’re performing original music, you have to find a way to keep your audience entertained, and I think that’s what I do best. I want to change people’s lives, even if only for a chorus, a song, or an entire show. I want my audiences to be as happy and in love with the music as I am. If I can do that, then I’ll be the happiest guy alive.”
In April 2020, Chris expanded on his ability to entertain with the release of his first audio book, “Possibilities Lined In Chalk.” A fictional story based in the early 1980s, “Possibilities Lined in Chalk” is a look back at life in a small midwestern town as seen through the eyes of a football obsessed teenager. The audio book is available now Possibilities Lined in Chalk.