Hayes was raised in central Ohio and started playing guitar at the age of nine. Inspired by the sounds of Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and Tony Rice, Hayes completely immersed himself in the world of bluegrass and acoustic music at a young age.
Hayes studied bluegrass and jazz guitar at Denison University, earning a B.A. in Music Performance in 2010, later earning an MM in Contemporary Improvisation at the New England Conservatory in 2012 under the private instruction of John McGann.
Currently Hayes lives in Grand Rapids, MI where he teaches at Grand Valley State University and runs Built to Last Music Notes, LLC, a transcription and music publishing service.
An active member of the national acoustic music scene, Hayes has performed with acts such as Canadian fiddle virtuoso April Verch and the contemporary bluegrass band NewTown. Hayes currently performs in a duo with mandolinist Nate Roberts, in addition to the progressive bluegrass group Fauxgrass.