Bringing the sounds of 1997 and then some into Music Box Supper Club last night, Sister Hazel dazzled an attentive audience and touched on all corners of a deep catalog.
I'll admit: I didn't know much beyond Sister Hazel's wildly popular single "All For You," which I'd recently performed as part of a very classy duet at Tina's Nite Club. It's a great tune. I knew that the band was still touring and releasing records, and so I had to do some digging prior to last night's show.
What I found was confirmed onstage: These guys have kept a remarkably consistent career since the early 90s. Their later stuff is more tinged with country than the earlier jangle rock, and they're self-aware enough to know that pop music has moved on from their generation. They wear their Florida roots proudly and, as guitarist Andrew Copeland pointed out last night, they're John Mayer's mom's favorite band. They may be your mom's favorite band, too.
Two of the best acoustic moments came when guitarist Ryan Newell and bassist Jett Beres took lead vocals on their songs, "Thoroughbred Heart" and "Ten Candle Days," respectively. The former may have been the most tender and emotional part of the evening.
From there, guitarist Ken Block stood atop the stage on his own and played "Champagne High." This tune was used as a nice bridge from acoustic to electric, as each band member returned to the stage with another guitar in hand. They cranked the volume and lit into some older classics, like "Happy." Newell shredded like a madman.
At our table, we met some folks from Florida who knew the band personally. They extolled each guy's character and their longevity. And that much became clear as the band members shared stories from their time on the road, from their earlier years, from behind the scenes. Block, Copeland and Beres were super talkative and often very humorous. They took questions from the crowd (about their band name, which is based off beloved Florida missionary Sister Hazel Williams, and about their "go-to karaoke song," which is a reference to a song off their last album). Copeland mentioned that they'll be releasing a new record in February.
Then, of course, they laid down "All For You." The entire room rose to its feet and stomped in rhythm with the American classic.
"One more, Sister!" cried out a man in the back. "One more, Sister!"