Sister Hazel is living the dream. It starts with a lighter in the dark, held high by a true believer whose favorite band is telling his story onstage. Multiply that by thousands of other fans in that venue and thousands more that same night in venues across America. Each one of those lights testifies to the power of music to touch a listener’s soul.
Sister Hazel has been there. For more than 20 years, these five friends have built the kind of musical communication that comes only with time, talent and commitment. From bars and clubs back home in Gainesville, Florida, to theaters, arenas, college campuses and open-air festivals, they’ve seen audiences light up the night like seas of stars.
In the 15+ years that they have been recording and performing as a band, they have accomplished something that for most artists is only a dream: they have built a career with a solid foundation, seemingly impenetrable by the shifting sands of the record industry and the economy. From a musical perspective, the band has always had the same approach to the creative process. The engine that drives them is based on the fundamental principles that attracted the attention of a major label, garnered hit singles on the radio and endeared them to a legion of avid fans: well-crafted, hook-infused songs complimented by solid instrumentation and lush harmony vocals. The dream for all musicians is to find a way to use their gifts to support themselves and their families at the same time they are enriching the lives of others. For Sister Hazel, it’s an honor to be living that dream every day.
Even more remarkable than the band’s two-decade existence is the fact that the lineup still features all the original founding members: Beres, lead singer Ken Block, rhythm guitarist Andrew Copeland, lead guitarist Ryan Newell and drummer Mark Trojanowski. Known as an alternative rock band, Sister Hazel started off in 1993 and has been going strong ever since. Continuing to tour relentlessly and holding fan gatherings, like The Rock Boat, Sister Hazel has always had a strong following of fans. For this show, they are continuing tour off their ninth studio album, ‘Lighter In the Dark’, which took them into the country style of music. I was looking forward to see what Sister Hazel would bring for the fans that evening.
They opened up with “Shame” from their album ‘Absolutely’ released in 2006. They followed up with “Change Your Mind” from their album ‘Fortress’ from 2000. The crowd immediately recognized the hit single and sang along with the chorus. You could see the band appreciated the fan support. Sister Hazel continued through their set with “Something To Believe In”, “Come Around”, and one of my favorites from the latest album ‘Lighters In The Dark’, “Kiss Me Without Whiskey”. Some of the other songs they played included “One Way Out”, a cover of The Allman Brothers song, “We Got It All Tonight”, “Champagne High”, “That Kind Of Beautiful”, and finished with “Happy” from the 1997 album “…Somewhere More Familiar”. They left the stage and came back out for an encore performing “This Kind Of Love” and “Mandolin Moon” both from the 2006 album “Absolutely”. Sister Hazel over 20 years is still going strong, reinventing themselves, and still has the support of their fans after all these years.