By Regina Elling
Ramona has big mountains, big sky and big landscapes. When Head for the Hills musicians comes to town, they’ll be bringing the big sound.Head for the hills pic.WEB
The Colorado-based quartet is a headliner for the Bluegrass and Old West Fest this Saturday and Sunday. Not only are band members familiar with the San Diego area (one member has family living here), but they say they truly enjoy performing at festivals and events.
Their past performances have included the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Wakarusa Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival and many more. They’ve also been named the Best Bluegrass Group in Colorado for three years in a row.
The small irony isn’t lost on the band.
“Unlike some groups, we didn’t grow up playing bluegrass,” explained Matt Loewen, the band’s bass player.
Other band members are Adam Kinghorn, guitar; Michael Chappell, mandolin; and Joe Lessard, fiddle. The entire band does vocals as well.
“Once we got together, we formed our bluegrass chops,” Loewen said. “As a group, we’ve been able to attack more somber subject matter, which is more interesting to us.”
Head for the Hills is unique in its choice of songs and its take on the music.
“There’s lots of good love songs, but sometimes there might be horrible things going on in those songs,” Loewen said with a laugh. “We like to do high energy, fun stuff that’s an eclectic blend of known songs and our own original material that is bluegrass and outside bluegrass.”
The chemistry among the guys as musicians is also widely recognized as one of their greatest strengths.
“I think anytime you bring different people together with different musical backgrounds and attack the same music, you end up with a slightly different result,” Loewen said. “Beyond the early songwriting, it’s probably what brought us together the most.”
The band formed in 2004. Its first live album, titled simply, “Head for the Hills Live,” was released in May 2012. Another album, due out in July 2013, has a couple of songs Loewen considers his favorites.
“The title track, ‘Blue Ruin,’ is an interesting fusion of what makes HFTH, HFTH,” he said.
The album, explains the band’s website, “fuses bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop and indie rock into songs inspired by love and misery and comic books.”
In addition to their energy and unique acoustic sound, there is one other factor that musicians bring to the stage, and that is their youth. The oldest band member is 28.
“Not much gray hair, and no suit ties,” laughed Loewen.
If sitting around an intimate campfire with friends, surrounded by larger than life outdoor beauty, is your idea of a great time, Head for the Hills fits the bill and more. When they bring their brand of bluegrass to Ramona, it’s going to be a visit to the mountains, and everyone involved will want to Head for the Hills.
The Ramona Bluegrass & Old West Fest takes place May 4 and 5 at the Ramona Rodeo Grounds, 421 Aqua Lane. For information about tickets, artists, or scheduling, visit RamonaBluegrassFest.com or call 760-789-6173. To watch videos and hear the sound of Head for the Hills, visit: headforthehillsmusic.com.