Johnny Hayes hopes you’re ready to rock out on July 3. He’s the lead singer of Johnny & The Loveseats, the featured entertainment for our Independence Eve event at Riverfront Park.

If you watched the last season of NBC TV’s “The Voice,” you’ll recognize Johnny as the celebrated performer who wowed millions nationwide with his performance of “Statesboro Blues,” one of the Allman Brothers’ greatest hits, and “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crowes. His rendition of Otis Redding’s hit “Try a Little Tenderness” is what earned him a spot on the show during the blind auditions. His heartfelt performance was authentic. “My wife and I spent our first date playing songs on the juke box for each other. I’d pick one for her, then she’d pick one for me. ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ is the one we both picked for each other, and it’s been our song ever since.”

Johnny characterizes his experience on The Voice as “Amazing... Getting to work with Adam Levine and John Legend was definitely more than I could have asked for. I’m very grateful for the experience of getting to learn from people at the top of their game in the industry. It brought attention to what I do, and ultimately to the band.” The band formed in Nashville about six years ago.

What can you expect to hear on July 3? Johnny says, “We do some covers that we feel really define us, but our shows are mostly original music now. We call ourselves a rock and soul band, but we play rock, soul, blues, and a little bit of country, too. I grew up on rock and roll, and listened to a lot of blues. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that blues and soul really speak to me. The music I write is a derivative of that.”

The band has a new single out, “Slow Dance,” available on iTunes and Spotify. Johnny considers this a good preview of what the band’s record will sound like. Johnny says, “This is the sound that we’ve been trying to accomplish. We’re really excited to be recording a full length album this summer.”

Every year we hear people say that no one does an Independence celebration like Apalachicola. And this year is going to be better than ever, with this amazing talent as our featured entertainment and an even bigger fireworks show. In addition, you’ll enjoy great food, the Red, White and Blue Parade, free ice cream social, the veterans’ tribute, the national anthem, and more. It all happens from 5 to 10 p.m. at Riverfront Park on Water Street.

Johnny and his family visit the Forgotten Coast each year. “From the very first time, it became our getaway place. It’s got such a nice, quiet vibe to it. We fall more in love with it every time.”

Of course, there will be no quiet vibes on July 3. Get ready to rock out!

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Augusta West is executive director of Apalachicola Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to downtown economic development and historic preservation. She can be reached at or (850) 274-1321. Main Street’s mailing address is 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola, FL 32320.