Fort Collins string band Head for the Hills plays Saturday at Mahogany Ridge before starting a summer tour that will take band members across the West and Southeast.

Courtesy photo

Fort Collins string band Head for the Hills plays Saturday at Mahogany Ridge before starting a summer tour that will take band members across the West and Southeast.

Making it work

Head for the Hills melds varied backgrounds into unique sound


Past Event

Head for the Hills, live newgrass

  • Saturday, May 31, 2008, 10 p.m.
  • Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill, 435 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • 21+ / $5


— Head for the Hills bassist Matt Loewen has a hard time explaining what sets his band apart from a traditional bluegrass act.

Guitarist and vocalist Adam Kinghorn has a distant punk-rock past, but lately he's been dedicated to roots music. Fiddle player Joe Lessard occasionally incorporates a taste for hip-hop, but a Head for the Hills song comes off as something firmly planted in music that predates that genre by close to a century.

Even if the Fort Collins quartet can't explain where its sound comes from, the result seems to be working. After a Saturday night set at Mahogany Ridge, Head for the Hills heads to Kansas to play a spot at Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, sharing a huge bill with the likes of David Grisman, The Flaming Lips, Blackalicious and Built to Spill.

Loewen talked to 4 Points about selling out the band's favorite venue, braving the wiles of the Midwest and getting comfortable with a new spin on old music.

4 Points: What have you guys been up to since the last time you came through Steamboat Springs?

Matt Loewen: We did a spring Midwest tour, which we've done before, but we went to a few new places this time, like North Dakota.

4 Points: How was North Dakota?

ML: North Dakota was actually surprisingly good. They have a good little music scene, and a lot of people who come out to see bluegrass shows. : Then we took a little bit of time off, and we just did a show with Billy Nershi from The String Cheese Incident at Mishawaka Amphitheatre and sold that out.

4 Points: That's a pretty good size venue to sell out.

ML: It's about 1,000 people. It was crazy. We've been playing there for a long, long time, inside and outside - they have a smaller inside thing they do shows on during the winter, and then there's the main outdoor venue.

It's been cool. I think we kind of feel like that's somewhat of our home venue, our home spot. So it was cool to be able to fill it up like that.

4 Points: And you're just starting up a summer tour?

ML: We're doing these two shows this weekend, and then we're doing Wakarusa the weekend after that.

4 Points: Are you guys planning to stay to see some of the bands playing Wakarusa? I was just looking at the line-up, and it looks pretty good.

ML: Yeah, I think Adam has to fly home, but the rest of us are going to stay. It's cool, even Emmylou Harris is playing, which is kind of unexpected.

4 Points: When you go to festivals like that or smaller bluegrass festivals, do you get to see and hear what other folk or string bands are doing?

ML: Definitely. I think in particular the festival setup is really good for that, because you get there and everybody's kind of there for the day. You meet a lot of musicians that way and you hear a lot of different music, and it leads to a lot of collaborations.

4 Points: So when you hear some of these other bands, how would you say what Head for the Hills is doing stands apart?

ML: We are managing to kind of : obviously we're not really too different in our instrumentation, other than the fact that we don't have a banjo player.

Other than that, I think the thing that sets us apart is I guess somewhat the approach we try to take to it. : It's hard to explain. I think we've been lucky enough to just kind of naturally develop this style musically that for whatever reason the different band members pull together from all our different outside influences.

I think because of that we've developed this sound that's just kind of a little different.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.