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Published: 2014/07/30
by Glenn H Roth

Head for the Hills: Colorado and Beyond

Friendship is where it all begins for the bluegrass band Head For The Hills. Bassist Matt Loewen, guitarist Adam Kinghorn (guitar), mandolin player Michael Chappell and fiddler Joe Lessard were friends first and a band second. They all met freshman year at Colorado State University during the fall of 2003. “That’s the place where the band started from,” Loewen said. “I feel like for other bands the starting place is a little different, so that’s something we got going for us.” spoke with Loewen to discuss the strong bond between his bandmates and the group’s rise in popularity.

Upcoming tour highlights for Head For The Hills, include supporting Nickel Creek at the Festival at Sandpoint and a performance at Yonder Mountain String Band’s Kinfolk Celebration.

When did you guys make the commitment to the band and the idea that it would continue after graduating from Colorado State?

I think the group was a really big part of our college experience. It was something that we were always doing and spending a lot time doing. We were in college and still touring, not full time, but we were touring. The momentum was always there and I just think we always knew that we were going to keep doing it, when people graduated.

Has the band evolved into what all of you had envisioned?

Yes and No. I think we’re always looking ahead and always interested in growth. Every new song that gets written – whether by an individual or by a collective process – is still moving forward. I think on this last record, Blue Ruin, we felt that creatively and musically, we finally had a product that represented what we saw as the sound for Head For The Hills. You listen to that record and there are a couple of bluegrass songs and a couple other songs that span the whole spectrum of music that certainly starts in bluegrass but goes into jazz, rock and pop-oriented stuff and more straight ahead classic-country sound. There’s a lot different feels on that record and I think that represents the different ways we think about music, and our eclectic tastes individually and as a group.

What allowed for Blue Ruin to sound that way?

I think part of it was the evolution of our songwriting. Everybody is always growing as writers and people; and getting into a place where people are more comfortable and complete. We also self-produced for the first time. We brought in an outside producer for our previous efforts. That’s a great experience and we’ll go back to that in the future. It was new for us to do the thing where at the end of the day, we were calling the shots, instead of someone else making the final call. That might have had something to do with it.

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