The Sister Hazel Experience

Posted on: Sunday, February 14th, 2010
Comments: 2

Hazel Thumb 240x300 The Sister Hazel ExperienceIt’s not every day that you get to meet one of your heroes or  biggest influences. When I was in college, a friend of mine called me late one afternoon to ask me if I’d accompany her to see her favorite band, Sister Hazel. She had 2 tickets and her other guest had backed out on her. I knew who Sister Hazel was. I’d heard “All For You” on the radio and played it quite frequently at my cover gigs in high school and college. I told her I’d love to go, not expecting anything except a fun night of music with a good friend.

What I got was a first class lesson in song writing, musicianship, and showmanship. Sister Hazel is, by far, one of the most underrated bands from the 90′s. They’re songs are a perfect recipe of music and lyrics. Each one taking you on the narrators journey. I learned that that was the type of song writing I wanted to do.

Fast forward to 2010. I was informed Sister Hazel would be playing at Captain Hiram’s in Sebastian, FL. A venue at which I am a regular entertainer. I immediately sent emails to the Entertainment Director letting him know that it was absolutely necessary for me to be a part of this day. I was told that Sister Hazel was touring with their own supporting acts, but I was welcome to show up early, wear an all access pass, and help out for the day. DEAL!

On Thursday February 11, 2010 I arrived at Captain Hiram’s at 10:30 a.m., precisely the same time a large grey tour bus was backing up to the loading dock. I got my pass and my employee shirt and got to work setting up tables and loading in the sound reenforcement company. Slowly, but surely. the Sister Hazel clan started emerging from their bus. First, Drew and Mark, the rhythm guitarist/vocalist and drummer respectively. Both looking for food and a stretch. Next, Jett the bassist and Ryan the lead guitarist wandered out. It became clear very quickly, however, that I was the only one who could pick them out in a crowd. Apparently no one else did their homework. I’ve seen them live over a dozen times and own most of the albums and the live DVD, so my knowledge is… let’s call it advanced, because creepy is harsh. Then, the lead singer Ken Block walked out onto the stage to survey the layout. He seemed to enjoy the view and stated, “This is real Florida.”

I have a long list of influences. Ken is in the top 2. I dropped what I was doing, because the other two stage hands seemed to have a handle on the 900 pound sound console, and walked up to Ken. “How’s it going?” I asked. “Pretty good,” he replied. I introduced myself as did he. I informed him introductions were not necessary on his end which got a little smile out of him. I told him I was looking forward to the show, he thanked me, and we moved on.

Next was the band load-in. I was assigned to J-Mo, the guitar tech. My job, taping carpets down. I was adept. Next was opening guitar cases. Pro. This is the best job EVER! I chatted with J-Mo while we re-stringed and tuned each guitar for the show until it was time for sound check. Sister Hazel ran through a newer tune and one of my favorites “Your Winter”. I caught up to Ken and Ryan on their way back to the bus and passed along a gift bag with a couple packets of instant hand warmers and 2 copies of my album. “Hey, guys. From one musician to another, I know what is like playing when the weather is like this so I got you something. I hope you don’t mind, but I threw a couple copies of my music in there too.” They seemed genuinely grateful for the hand warmers and thanked me enthusiastically. Mission accomplished.

The opening act was to be Alex Band, formerly of The Calling. His call time, I was told, was 5p. At 6p, the Entertainment Director approached me just as I was ordering food. “Do you have your stuff here?” he asked. “Yeah, why?” “Alex Band isn’t here yet and I need an opener,” he said. “But I just ordered food,” I said. “Do you want to eat or do you want to open for Sister Hazel?”

I started setting my stuff up at the side of the stage. I was asked to hold off on setting up on stage until we were sure Alex Band was a “no show”. At 6:20. 10 minutes before show  time, I remembered that Sister Hazel had my guitar in their bus. I gave it to them to sign. I asked J-Mo to watch my gear while I went to get it. As I crossed the street to get to the bus, I saw a familiar looking face carrying a guitar and cables at a very hurried pace. “Where do I go?” asked Alex Band. “Follow me.”

The show was great. Very intimate with a good blend of fan favorites and new material. I enjoyed it with the same friend I’d seen that first Hazel concert with along with her husband and my song writing sidekick. Afterwards, I helped J-Mo pack up the guitars and joined the Sister Hazel camp back on the bus. If I told you how down to Earth and nice these guys are it would sound cliche. It really was just like talking with some buddies at a bar or party. I hung around till 2 a.m., thanked them, and headed home. Smiling, but anxious.

2 Responses to “The Sister Hazel Experience”

  1. POP's Says:

    Danny I ‘m very happy that one of your dreams hascome tobe, hope this leads to bigger and better things for you. Keep working at it , it will happen for you.

  2. Debbie Says:

    Hey :) Did you happen to get any pictures of Alex Band opening for them. Need them for my website! Or maybe you know someone who might have? Thanks. Debbie

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