Remember the 90s? Sister Hazel were part of the wave of light alternative rock that ruled the airwaves in late 90s and early 2000s, but the stalwart band has remained active and relevant for over 25 years thanks to consistently quality music and continuous fan outreach.
Sister Hazel was formed in Gainesville, Fla., in 1993 by Ken Block (vocals/guitar), Andrew Copeland (vocals/guitar), Ryan Newell (lead guitar), Jett Beres (bass), and Mark Trojanowski (drums). Their self-titled debut earned them a deal with Universal Records and their major-label debut, “Somewhere More Familiar” went Platinum thanks to their hit song, “All for You” which topped the adult alternative charts and nearly broke into the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1997. You may be familiar with Sister Hazel’s songs from their ubiquitous appearances in movies and television including the soundtracks for “The Wedding Planner,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” and “Scrubs.”
After the release of their second album with Universal, “Fortress,” Sister Hazel went independent and have released 13 albums, retaining a reputation for consistently excellent music and live shows. The band were even called "one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years" by Performing Songwriter Magazine. Normally known for a melodic and harmony rich mixture of jangle pop, folk, and alternative rock, (think Hootie and the Blowfish, Gin Blossoms, Blues Traveler,…) Sister Hazel reinvented themselves as a contemporary country band with 2016’s “Lighter in the Dark.” The switch worked in their favor as they ended up on the charts again— the Country music charts —four times back-to-back. Currently, the band are on tour supporting their new EP, “Earth,” the fourth entry in their “Element” series which includes the EPs “Water,” “Wind,” and “Fire.”
Sister Hazel have maintained a loyal fanbase ever since they peaked on the charts in the 90s thanks to a DIY approach to touring, marketing, and engaging with their audience. The band were early adopters of the internet and social media (they have over a million followers), using a grassroots approach to maintain a presence on the music scene, even when their songs weren’t getting played on the radio as much as they used to. One of their strategies for connecting with audiences was pioneering the theme cruise industry by co-founding “Rock the Boat.” The band, whose most devoted fans identify themselves as Hazelnuts, also host their own music gathering, The Hazelnut Hang.Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and Dine newsletters
The band named themselves after Sister Hazel Williams, a local missionary who ran a homeless shelter, and that charitable spirit carries over in their other endeavors. Ken Block (whose brother lost his battle with cancer at the age of 14) and his bandmates founded Lyrics for Life, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that unites musicians and celebrities for concerts and auctions to raise funds for cancer research. Lyrics for Life also organizes Camp Hazelnut, a summer camp experience for children and their families who are fighting cancer.
Hazelnuts (and casual fans) can expect an energetic show, full of chart-topping hits and new material, from these alt-rock and country music veterans when they take the Victory North stage.