Music was coming from the monitors as the curtains started to open slowly. Fans peaked through to get a glimpse of the blue lit stage. The crowd was ready to see the main attraction at Chicago’s House of Blues on a cold December night. Sister Hazel started to play and any thoughts of the frigid temperatures outside were quickly forgotten. It was a fantastic night for music.
Chicago was graced with two shows by the band from Gainesville, Florida, Sister Hazel. The group came out and performed some of their best songs such as “All For You” and “Change Your Mind.” They brought out so many songs with the intentions of entertaining the crowd and that is exactly what they did. Going along with the holiday season they played the Christmas rock song “Run, Run, Rudolph” which had everyone dancing. The Soggy Bottom Boys would have been proud to see the song “Man of Constant Sorrow” to be played so close to the original. It was a flawless performance and sounded just like the CD.
Front man Ken Block led the band with the upbeat guitar oriented songs, to the vocally driven a cappella sections of other ditties. His lead vocals were sweet sounds to the ears. Vocally the entire band blended well with each other within every song. Ken’s acoustic guitar work was done in a fast paced strumming style. His guitar was a clear representation of how hard he plays. He was well on his way to wearing a hole in the body as a lot of country and folk players had done in the past.
The bottom end was provided by Jett Beres. He played the same five string bass during the entire show through a bass rig that could move the Earth. Within the main floor, the rumbling could be felt within your feet. He had quick fingers that played the kickass bass lines and a tone that made everything he played sound warm. He also has a very wide range vocally. He brought the definition of three part harmony a new meaning.
Completing the rhythm section is Mark Trojanowski on drums. His timing was better than any clock and his versatility was displayed on everything he played. He was completely on fire during the entire show. He showed amazing dynamics and at times he was a great example of playing less is more. He wasn’t on stage being an animal like other drummers have done. He knew how and when to hit with the absolute correct amount of force. He is just a solid in the pocket drummer.
A great asset to the band is found in Andrew Copeland. This guy provides rhythm guitar, keyboards, vocals, and a solid foundation of music within this rock band. What more could you ask for in a musician? His part within the band is holding down the rhythms and melodies. Within his role, he helps to fill out the bands musical style and sound. He is a very talented musician and it shows within his performance.
Last but not least is Ryan Newell on lead guitar. During every concert, the man who has the spotlight is always the guitar player. Ryan deserved every bit of it as he shined through on what he played. His guitar work is in the same league with some of the great guitar Gods. He played some intricate and flashy guitar riffs that amazed a lot of people within the room, including musicians. When he picked up a slide and moved it across the strings it was just magical.
The best part of the show was when the band broke into the middle guitar jam of “Hotel California” by the Eagles. Newell hit all the tough guitar licks from this classic rock anthem as if Joe Walsh was there himself playing it for you. He was backed up on the double guitar solo parts by Ken Block.
The band did the same customary routine as all other acts do. They pretend they are done with their show and leave the stage knowing damn well that they are coming back out for another song or two. For their encore they came back out and performed the song “Champaign High.” The acoustically based song had left the fans with a smile on their face.
During the show there was a positive energy that flowed around the room. Good, happy music was being played and the audience welcomed the sounds with open arms. As the show went along, the fans felt that positive energy coming from the stage and sent the feelings back to the band with applause and cheers.
The show had ended and the fans left the building. They huddled together in the streets attempting to stay warm as they waited for their cars to be brought to them. Smiles were everywhere despite the frigid temperatures.
Sister Hazel was just an incredible band to see live. Their ability as musicians is unbelievable. The entire group was on the money within all of the songs they played. Five guys performed as if they were one unit captivating the ears and eyes of the patrons at the House of Blues in Chicago. One word describes the show that was done and that is perfection! It was a fantastic night for music.