About Head for the Hills
Potions and Poisons is the fourth album of original music from Head for the Hills, the Colorado based post-modern bluegrass outfit of Adam Kinghorn, Joe Lessard, Matt Loewen and Sam Parks. There’s no reinvention of the wheel here–no computer programmed banjo rolls or digitally arpeggiated fiddle lines. Instead we find Head for the Hills at the peak of their powers of musical alchemy, building little worlds of sound from the detritus of bluegrass, jazz, hip hop, folk and soul. Potions and Poisons is a look at the darker side of love, lust, and life; an examination of our affinity for and aversion to the things that make us fragile but human.
Recorded at home in Colorado with the band’s go-to engineer, Aaron Youngberg (Cahalen and Eli, Martha Scanlan, Grant Gordy and Ross Martin), the record features appearances from Bonnie Paine (Elephant Revival) on vocals and washboard, Erin Youngberg (Uncle Earl, FY5) on vocals, and a lush string section. Potions and Poisons is the most Head for the Hills record yet, and in the great tradition of bluegrass (and soul and folk and old time music), it delivers some bitter pills, but the ten new original songs are more than a survey of the human condition. This is reflective but buoyant music, restorative and full of vibrancy.
Head for the Hills prides itself on defying expectation, turning neophytes into converts and genre purists exploratory listeners. Remaining true to the roots of bluegrass while simultaneously looking to it’s future prospects, the band makes music that reaches into jazz, indie rock, hip hop, soul, world and folk to stitch together cutting edge songs that bridge the divide between past and future acoustic music. More than a decade in and after thousands of miles, hundreds of performances, a handful of independently released records, 4 times awarded Best Bluegrass in Colorado via Westword Magazine, and one new mandolin player–Head for the Hills is at their absolute peak, firing on all cylinders and winning the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere they go.
Head for the Hills have been bringing their music to audiences from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival to South by Southwest and a multitude of stages in between–including Summer Camp Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, RockyGrass, DelFest, Northwest String Summit, Blue Ox Music Festival FloydFest, Strawberry Music Festival and many more. The band has been featured on NPR Ideastream and eTown, co-released beers with Odell Brewing Company and Sanitas Brewing, charted on the CMJ Top 200 (Blue Ruin, 2013 and Head for the Hills, 2010), and was featured by CMT – Edge, who said; “Head for the Hills’ Blue Ruin effortlessly matches integrity against innovation.”
Defining The Hawthorne Roots can be challenging. Their original songs combine the soft passion in soul and folk with revved up beats from rock and blues. The Hawthorne Roots is lead by sisters Madeline and Emma Kelly. The band is defined by silvery vocals, tightly woven harmonies, and relentlessly catchy melodies.
There are no rules or limitations when it comes to choosing subjects for the original material. The Hawthorne Roots’ songs are about the triumphs and struggles that involve it all: from day-to-day life to grand adventures; true love and painful heartbreak. The lyrics find their way to each audience member creating connection and conveying empathy. The diverse collection of songs bridge the gap among music lovers of many different genres.
The Hawthorne Roots’ story begins with Emma, born in 1986, and Madeline born in 1989. They entered the 90’s and early 2000’s as young girls living on the East Coast. Their musical lives began at birth with both mother and father heavily involved in the classical music community in Boston. The two sisters explored different musical genres growing up. Madeline began writing songs at the age of 16 leaning on inspiration from folk artists like Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, and Neil Young. The two sisters forged separate paths for many years, Madeline moving to Bozeman, Montana in 2008. Emma made her way west in 2013. It was not until 2014 they decided to team up for Madeline’s first recording session with Preston White of Boxwood Studios.
From there, the two sisters continued to sing together and paired up with Bozeman bassist Casey George and Bozeman drummer Michael DeJaynes to form The Hawthorne Roots. In 2015 the Kelly sisters teamed up for the first time and wrote the song “Keena” together.
Since then, the band has been joined by numerous Bozeman musicians including Mike Koziel for their 3 track EP recorded at Low Country Studios, Alex Koukov and Bridger Dunnegan from Hollowtops, Haley Ford from The Vibe Quartet, Hemingway and the Organix, and John Shirrell from Doctors of Geography. John Sherrill officially joined The Hawthorne Roots in July of 2015. Casey George left in September of 2015 and Haley Ford took his place, forever changing the female to male ratio and of course – the bass lines.
Today The Hawthorne Roots bring a soulful and energetic performance to the stage, every lyric sung with true passion and genuine elegance. The new repertoire explores different emotions and pushes the boundaries of what is known as The Americana genre of music. They do not write by the rules. The music of The Hawthorne Roots comes from nowhere else, but the heart. Stay tuned as this fresh Montana band continues to spread roots.