It was the promise of a pass to the Foundation Room and possible box seat that lured me to the House of Blues in Chicago for a Sister Hazel concert. I don’t know much of Sister Hazel, and I don’t claim to be a fan. But I’m a big fan of HOB and box seats, so I went. On the cab ride there, I asked my companion about Sister Hazel’s sound and “Hootie” came up in the conversation…
It was a cold, bitter night so it was with great joy that we walked into the warm, inviting Foundation Room, complete with burning incense and fuzzy upholstery. A couple cocktails later and we decided to check out the opening act, Pat McGee Band. I didn’t know this guy either. I paid slight attention, but what I heard was pretty good. Laid-back but fun. What did catch my attention were his repeated attempts to rally the crowd … “Get into it!” “Make some noise!” Pretty ballsy for simply a guy with a guitar. I can’t remember the last time I saw a mosh pit develop over a single acoustic guitar set.
So on to Sister Hazel. Like I said, I don’t really know their stuff. But what I heard was poppy, do-your-white-guy-dance music. A few songs into their set, I did start to recognize some songs. And if I remember correctly, they came straight from my college days.
Sister Hazel has some dedicated fans. Looking around the room, there were plenty of dancing folks, most of whom knew every song, and the majority of lyrics. And the crowd was fairly diverse, age-wise. There were forty- and fifty-somethings and twenty- and thirty-somethings reliving the days of CD jukeboxes and underage drinking.
I will say this – they sounded good. From the songs I didn’t know to their mass hit Change Your Mind the songs sounded like they came right off the radio or from some sweet floor speakers in the dorm room across the hall. And the crowd was pleased. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them again, but I had a good time. They clearly have talent, and if you’re a fan, they definitely won’t disappoint.
A few side notes:
- The House of Blues remains a top-flight venue. And if you have the chance, get to the Foundation Room. There was no recording or photography allowed, so I didnt’ get any video. But I did sneak a photo from the box.
- Sister Hazel’s name comes from Sister Hazel Williams, an African-American woman who ran Sister Hazel’s Rescue Mission in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida.
- Yes, several times I was reminded of Hootie – before he went country.
Sister Hazel’s remaining 2008 tour dates:
December, 31 2008 08:00 PM – Jannus Landing, St. Petersberg, FL
January, 8 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, Dallas, TX
January, 9 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, Houston, TX
January, 10 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, New Orleans, LA
January, 17 2009 08:00 PM – Carnival Cruise – The Rock Boat, Nassau, Bahamas
February, 11 2009 08:00 PM – Varsity, Baton Rouge, LA
February, 12 2009 08:00 PM – Jupiter Bar and Grill, Tuscalossa, AL
February, 13 2009 08:00 PM – Ricks, Starkville, MS
February, 14 2009 08:00 PM – Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA
February, 18 2009 08:00 PM – Freebird, Jacksonville, FL
February, 19 2009 08:00 PM – Headliners, Columbia, SC
February, 20 2009 08:00 PM – Revolution, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
February, 21 2009 08:00 PM – House Of Blues, Orlando, FL