Oliver Hazard Stays Alive Through Music

Oliver Hazard at Thunderbird Music Hall
Oliver Hazard at Thunderbird Music Hall

Our messages are pretty simple. We are humans writing about the human experience. Our hope is that folks can find a way to relate, and perhaps see a little glimpse into the Midwest through our songs.”

— Mike Belazis

In the quaint little town of Waterville, Ohio where the river winds its way through the heart of the community, a band by chance was born in 2017. The band Oliver Hazard emerged when Mike Belazis returned home for a holiday. 

Belazis, lead singer and guitarist shared, “We’re a band by accident! I came home for a winter holiday, signed up to perform 20 minutes at a local venue, and on the same week we won a recording contest at the local studio. We recorded and performed 10 songs live, which became our first record 34 N. River.” Little did he know this serendipitous event would mark the beginning of a musical journey that would gather audiences far beyond their hometown. 

The band Oliver Hazard was named after commander Oliver Hazard Perry, a historical figure local to their roots in northern Ohio who helped end the War of 1812 by beating the Royal Navy at the Battle of Lake Erie. 

Nate Miner and Devin East join Belazis to share a tight-knit bond through their years of friendship and shared musical experiences. That bond infuses their performances with an undeniable chemistry. 

Their songwriting process is deeply rooted in their surroundings, drawing their inspiration from the simplicity and beauty of their hometown of Waterville, Ohio. “A lot of our inspiration comes from where we grew up in northern Ohio. It’s a simple town on a beautiful river. The sense of home is an important piece of our songwriting. The people, the places, the natural beauty,” said Belazis.

Each lyric is carefully orchestrated with touches of coziness with heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies. Their sound feels nostalgic and folksy, perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons or sitting under the stars around a bonfire. It is a soundtrack to capture moments of reflection, adventure, or simply enjoying the beauty of everyday life. 

Recently, Oliver Hazard played at Thunderbird Music Hall located in Pittsburgh. Their 12th stop of the tour was nothing short of captivating. The moment the lights dimmed and the trio stepped on stage, familiar chords filled the air signaling the start of an unforgettable night. The intimate setting of Thunderbird Music Hall enhanced the experience, allowing fans to feel a part of the journey. The talent and genuine connection with their audience left a lasting impression on all who were fortunate enough to be there.  

One standout track Oliver Hazard played was their newly released song, “Haunted.” It captures the bittersweet nostalgia perfectly, reminiscing the simplicity of one’s roots. The lyric, “Hiding from the ghost I had” suggests the complexity of coping with memories and regrets of the past. Through its emotion, the song poignantly captures the beauty of a small town, while acknowledging the ghosts of the past that linger through the shadows of memories.

Like many artists, Oliver Hazard faced challenges along the journey. “2020 was a pretty tough year for us. We had built our touring model completely around living room shows, and when the pandemic hit, it was almost impossible to move forward in real life. So we decided to wait it out, record new music, and we prepared for the day that we would be able to go back out on the road,” Belazis reflected. 

Instead of falling victim to defeat, they chose to adapt and persevere. The idea of giving fans the music they needed during this time of isolation was crucial. After much planning, they utilized a spacious outdoor venue, ensuring safety while still delivering a unique experience. Belazis said, “We hosted the first socially distant concert in northwest Ohio at our local minor league baseball stadium.” The show occurred at Fifth Third Field, home to the Toledo Mud Hens. 

Their live performances are more than concerts; They are entrancing experiences that invite audiences to become part of the musical journey. “We like to cultivate a listening room environment. A place where folks aren’t talking, but they’re able to completely be immersed in a musical experience. We love interacting with the audience, and making them a part of the show too,” said Belazis. It’s this dedication to creating a meaningful connection with their audience that distinguishes them from the rest. 

Looking ahead, Oliver Hazard has exciting events on the horizon. Amidst their summer tour, they host their very own festival. “We are super excited for our music festival this year, Oliver Hazard Day. This is our sixth annual event in our hometown and we have some great artists coming to perform this year from all over North America,” Belazis reveals. 

Balancing music with other commitments is a challenge they’ve learned to master. Belazis explains, “We are pretty good at striking a balance. When we aren’t on the road, we make sure to spend ample time with family and friends. Typically our schedule is one month on/one month off, which allows us to go home to recharge and fulfill family commitments.” Their well-tuned schedule allows balanced time for touring, recording, and family time. 

For aspiring musicians, Belazis offers wise advice. “Just do the thing. And do it in your own way, there is no playbook. If you are being your authentic self, that’s what is most important.” The band commits to staying true to oneself and embracing the journey, wherever it may lead. 

As they continue to tour and perform live, Oliver Hazard cherishes the moments that bring them closer to their fans. “Some of our most memorable moments are back in the living room days. We used to spend the night at our living room houses. It was always a really nice experience, waking up to homemade breakfast oftentimes. We met a lot of amazing people through that journey,” Belazis reminisces. 

Their music carries a simple yet profound message. One that speaks volumes to the universal human experience. Belazis shares, “Our messages are pretty simple. We are humans writing about the human experience. Our hope is that folks can find a way to relate, and perhaps see a little glimpse into the Midwest through our songs.”

Among their songs, one dynamic track stands out to Belazis. This song resonates with audiences and allows them to join the experience. Belazis exclaims, “I really enjoy performing ‘Northern Lights,’ it’s a super dynamic song to play live. It ebbs and flows through different volumes and textures. And It’s always fun to ask the crowd to sing the last part of the song with us, ‘No I wouldn’t change a thing.’”

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All The High Post Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • O

    Oliver HazardApr 30, 2024 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the article Chloe!! Very well written! -Oliver Hazard