Sister Hazel: Stay AWhile

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Sister Hazel: Heartland Highway

[Update: Thanks to Dan, who just pointed us toward a FREE 20-track compilation of Sister Hazel tracks exclusively at Seriously, it doesn’t cost a dime.]

Gainesville, FL’s Sister Hazel (vocalist Ken Block, guitarist/vocalist Drew Copeland, lead guitarist Ryan Newell, drummer Mark Trojanowski and bassist Jett Beres) just released their 8th studio album “Heartland Highway” on October 12th.

Beres describes the album as “American road trip music” (“listening to it is what it feels like to be on a road trip across America”) while Copeland suggests, “It’s one of those discs you can put on and listen to front to back.”  Concurs Block:  “We spend a lot of time on journeys as a band – literally and figuratively.  We spend a lot of time out on the highway together.  We have a ton of stuff behind us with a really rich history, and we have been through an awful lot of things together.  Yet we keep looking ahead, down the road, to what’s next.”  Echoing these sentiments, the disc ebbs and flows between rockin’ tracks and more poignant numbers, a collection that all band members agree is their most diverse-sounding disc.  Although the album is awash in the Sister Hazel signature mix of Southern pop hooks and country rock harmonies, “there are a lot of moments that have never been in Sister Hazel songs before,” notes Newell, adding, “We strive to give our audience something different each time.  I feel like we are stepping into our heyday.”

Sister Hazel still hits the road regularly, doing around 100 dates annually, but they also find other avenues to maintain close ties to their fans. “The only way we can keep doing what we are doing is having our fans continue to connect and support us,” proclaims Copeland.  The band’s Rock Boat excursion, the world’s largest floating music festival, celebrated its 10th anniversary this past January and next year’s outing will be an “Uncharted Waters cruise,” according to Trojanowski. “We missed a lot of ports due to weather so we won’t pick a destination until we leave a port.” Just as popular is their annual Hazelnut Hang (“Hazelnuts” being the name for the group’s ardent fans) at The Windjammer on South Carolina’s Isle of Palms.  The band has embraced the Internet and social networking too. Their Twitter followers are fast approaching the 1 million mark and last year they did several unique fan-centric events (one where fans could call a special cell phone number to talk to one of the guys; another being a set of podcasts hosted by each of the band members).

Combine this album with Limbeck’s “Hey, Everything’s Great” and you’ve got great road tripping music.

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