Head for the Hills closes Strings Music Festival season in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Head for the Hills closes Strings Music Festival season in Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

Head for the Hills, an Americana bluegrass band from Fort Collins, closes the Strings Music Festival with a performance Saturday at the Strings Music Pavilion.

— Head for Hills has a guitar, a mandolin, a fiddle and an upright bass.

That must mean the band plays bluegrass, and that its members sing about mountains and trees, right?

Not necessarily.

In the past seven years, the Fort Collins-based quartet has proved there's no formula for acoustic music, and that growing beyond the boundaries of traditional bluegrass can turn a Colorado mountain band into an act blossoming on national stages like Telluride Bluegrass, DelFest and South by Southwest.

"We think it's a sacred music to be a part of," guitarist Adam Kinghorn said about the band's traditional bluegrass roots. "But we see it as a way to get to other styles of music."

That might mean fiddle player Joe Lessard's occasional beatbox and rap number, a dark and depressing sea shanty based on the story of a graphic novel by Alan Moore, or exploring the group's jazz and indie rock influences.

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And, of course, they play songs about mountains and trees.

"I love that stuff," Kinghorn said. "But it's becoming harder and harder for us to write really positive upbeat songs. It has to do with popular music and what you hear on the radio and some of that stuff just makes you think. Now we're all really conscious about not having corny songs."

The band will make its debut at the Strings Music Pavilion while also closing out the Strings Music Festival's 24th season.

The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 in advance, rising by $3 on the day of the show.

Betse Grassby, Strings' non-classical programming and operations director, said the festival is proud to offer a Colorado band with national appeal.

"I'm excited about presenting them," Grassby said. "I felt this was an appropriate band for the demographic of who I think is going to be in town for the bike race; it's a really exceptional bluegrass band. And they're more than a bluegrass band; it's an Americana sound we'll have on the stage."

Reflecting on the season past, Grassby said that while Different Tempo series opener Wynton Marsalis set the bar high, she thinks that Strings has done its job throughout summer in bringing quality and diverse musical acts to Steamboat.

"There was this couple that I remember leaving the Michael Kaeshammer concert … and I heard them say, 'How come I've never heard of this guy? That's one of the greatest concerts I've ever seen,'" Grassby said. "That's what we love to do at Strings."

Lighting up 25th season

The Strings Music Festival hopes to light its way through its landmark 25th season next year with community support.

"Light Up the Night," a fundraiser put on by the festival's Guild, is already under way and will benefit the festival's education and outreach programs.

For $5, anyone can purchase a light to decorate the trees outside the pavilion in Strings Park. Entire trees are available to be lit for $5,000. The funds will go to help programs like String School Days and supplementing children's event tickets.

The lights will be lit in a ceremony on opening night of the 25th year, June 23, 2012.

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