Head for the Hills comes from Rockies to the Sierra
As a member of a popular Colorado bluegrass band, mandolin player Mike Chappel often has heard cheers from hundreds of happy fans. During a current tour, he heard the sounds of an enraged crowd of 100,000.
Head for the Hills performed a half-block from the state capitol in Madison, Wis., the night legislators passed a bill intended to weaken unions.
As musicians, timing is important, and the band happened to appear in “Mad-town” when it was the epicenter of a major national news story.
“It was wild to be there because we had been on the road where it’s harder to keep up on everything,” Chappel said. “It hurt the show but I felt empowered to see the people caring about social issues. However you stand on the issue, it was exciting to see that many people being involved.”
It’s an exciting time in general for Head to the Hills, whose self-titled sophomore album was produced by Drew Emmitt, engineered by Gus Skinas and mixed by Grammy-winning Vance Powell – some of the best in the business.
“The album turned out beyond our expectations,” Chappel said. “We are really happy to have met those guys and worked with them on that.”
The band members met while attending Colorado State University, where dormitory residents, no doubt, were happy bluegrass bands don’t include drummers.
Adam (Kinghorn, guitar) was on same floor as bass player Matt (Loewen),” Chappel said. “And Sean (MacAskill, the publicist) was there. We’d rehearse in the dorms. It wasn’t serious. Just parties and for fun.”
The fun continued after the quartet (Joe Lessard plays fiddle) finished school. It has toured heavily since 2007, when it released a debut album, “Robber’s Roost,” produced by Sally Van Meter, a Grammy winner who has worked with Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and the Yonder Mountain String Band.”
For those who fail to attend the free Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room show Saturday, April 2, Head for the Hills will perform at the region’s traditional Fourth of July gathering.
“This will be our first High Sierra Festival,” Chappel said. “We’ve wanted to be there forever. I’m actually pretty excited to see Ween.”
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