Consider these shirtless performers: Blink 182’s Travis Barker; Iggy and the Stooges’ Iggy Pop; and Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers’ Derek Lynch. One of these musicians is having his hottest year thus far, and no, that is not why he performs without a shirt.
Derek Lynch, 27 years old and a City College alumnus, has lived an educated life. Music has always been a passion. After a few years in Southern California, Lynch returned home to Sacramento in 2015. He felt unsure about his future and responded to a Craigslist advertisement. The listing called for “musicians who want to build a wedding cover band.”
“It was good money, and weddings pay well,” Lynch says, at the time not realizing this would throw him directly into the Sacramento music scene.
The cover band built performance confidence and gave Lynch a place to jam nightly with other musicians. He crossed paths with another local band and often attended open mic nights. At a Del Paso Heights open mic he heard Frank Lopes rap. Lopes, a former City College student who is known as Hobo Johnson, rapped over homemade tracks. Lynch thought to himself, “I want to play guitar over that.”
The two began conversations over Facebook, and in the last year, Lynch has become the organizer of the band portion, known as the LoveMakers.
“Derek is probably the best guitar player and the nicest man,” Lopes said on a recent appearance on the Capital Public Radio program “Insight” with host Beth Ruyak.
Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers create a raw, unique sound that draws you in, and then the honest, poetic lyrics keep you entranced. Songs about millennial dilemmas, non-traditional families, rising rent prices and love lost.
At a mid-November record release at Harlow’s Restaurant and Night Club in Midtown, Lynch and Lopes poke their heads through the sheer stage curtains. The curtains pull back and simultaneously the two hype up the crowd. The rest of the band settles on stage while Lynch continues hyping up the crowd and prepping his keyboard. Lopes begins his rap, and the sold-out crowd loses it. Many fans sing each word down to the last syllable.
“Can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen them,” says fan Tyler Collier. “They have this symbiotic energy on stage you can’t deny.”
Lynch explains the process.
“Sometimes I forget how amazing Frank is until the finished product,” says Lynch, who describes the time they spend together as friends, not “music partners.”
Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers produce their own music videos. In them, you’ll recognize the faces and places of Sacramento. For Lynch, he had to return to Sacramento to appreciate its charms.
Lynch transferred to U.C. San Diego’s chemistry department after attending City College. After graduation, he found himself struggling to find a job. Later that year in Los Angeles, Lynch was denied a job at Target. He threw himself into his music. He completed music classes at one of L.A.’s community colleges, and for a whole year he saw some of the best live music acts California has to offer.
Lynch recalls that the most thriving music scene wasn’t enough to keep him as a resident in Southern California. Loneliness and unemployment took their toll on this 25 year old, so he returned to Sacramento two years ago, and the rest is history.
Arguably the most critical part of this story is when and why did Lynch take his shirt off?
It all started with blue corduroys, a blazer with no shirt, one gold chain and a Trilby-style hat, similar to a fedora but with a narrower brim and taller crown, usually worn toward the back of the head. A last-minute, first-show outfit has now found its permanent place with Lynch’s stage presence.
“He’s an introvert, but when he hits the stage, he’s something else,” says Lynch’s older brother, Damien.
In 2014, missing an opportunity with Target felt like an important loss. Two years later, Lynch is part of a band that’s been awarded four SAMMIES this year by Sacramento News & Review. The band is in popular demand. What’s not back by popular demand? Lynch’s shirt.
To hear Derek Lynch’s band, Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers, and see their videos, go to the Facebook page at facebook.com/pg/hobojohnson94Corolla ♦