AX FACTS & STATS - Sister Hazel

By Dave Roberts

Welcome to a special 2 part edition of Guitar News Weekly and ExtremeGuitars.com's "Ax Facts & Stats". In this issue, we are elated to, once again, feature our friends Sister Hazel. We first highlighted Sister Hazel last year as we welcomed SH lead guitarist Ryan Newell to the AFS family as he supported Sister Hazel's Chasing Daylight album. We caught up with Sister Hazel again in May 2004; we caught up with the guys as they toured supporting their "A Life In The Day" live album and DVD. On August 24, 2004, Sister Hazel released their "Lift" album. I have always been a fan of SH, and now more than ever! What else can I say? "Lift" is an awesome album. As usual, Sister Hazel integrates well-written tunes, trademark harmonies, emotion & rock-solid arrangements on every track on the release including my favorites "Surrender", "Firefly" , "Green" (Welcome To The World), and a remake of The Cars' tune "Just What I Needed". Be sure to check this album out! Now lets meet Sister Hazel guitarist, lead singer and Front man, Ken Block.

My name is: Ken Block

Describe yourself in 5 words: Idealist, thoughtful, passionate, in recovery, father

My current job is: Musician, songwriter and founder of Lyrics for Life (cancer charity)

My hometown: Gainesville, FL

My current album or project is: Just finished Double Live CD with Sister Hazel and first DVD and our latest studio record is out August 24th, called "Lift".

Former bands: Razor's Edge, Scorcher, Spank Barbie, Ken & Andrew.

My guitar influences growing up were: too many to name. Everyone from James Taylor to Angus Young.

The guitars I use are: For live performances there is nothing that work as well as Takemine guitars for me. My main Takemine is an en12-c acoustic.

The strings and tunings I use are: D'addario acoustic lights, mostly standard tuning.

My current rig setup consists of: Straight out of my takemine, no trick.

The greatest invention for guitars is: Guitar tech's

The story behind the band name Sister Hazel: Sister Hazel was an African-American woman who ran "Sister Hazel's Rescue Mission" in Gainesville, FL during the 1970's and 80's. This facility gave those who were down on their luck a safe place to stay warm, eat and regroup - regardless of age, race or beliefs. It is in this spirit of unconditional concern for all beings that we have chosen to use her name.

My favorite SH song is: "Champagne High"

My Career highlight thus far is: That I still wake up every morning and continue to make a living making music.

My most embarrassing moment on stage: I hate it when I forget lyrics, but I'm too stupid to be embarrassed.

Other than my guitar, the one piece of my gear that I cannot live without is: My cell phone (gotta stay in touch with my family).

The first song I ever mastered on guitar: Johnny Cash - Flosom Prision Blues.

My first guitar was: Electric was a Gibson z-paul, and first acoustic gil nylon string classical that my father gave me.

If I am only sure of one thing in life, It's: Change

My Greatest fear is: Missing important moments with my kids while I'm on the road.

The one ritual I always perform prior to going onstage is: Wake up

Favorite quote: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. - Mark Twain.

The exact moment I knew I would pursue a career in music was: Pretty much my whole life, but the first time I played on stage when I was 12 years old sealed the deal.

The one thing most fans don't know About me is: I grew up obsessed with surfing

The best advice I could give beginning guitarists: Come to a sister hazel show and watch Ryan Newell play. (editors note: I agree!)

The CD(s) I'm listening to right now: Jason Mraz, Sarah McLaughlin, Tom Petty and Heartbreakers greatest hits

My 3 all-time favorite albums: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours Patty Griffin - Living With Ghosts The Eagles - Greatest Hits vol. 1

I'm a sucker for: Smart lyrics. Clever melodies, intricate harmonies and kindness.

Who was one of your favorite artists that you jammed with onstage? Emily Sailers, Indigo Girls. I'm a singer and harmonizing with her was awesome.

My best gig was: Playing Gator Growl at the Univ. of FL in front of 75,000 people in my hometown and having everyone sing back the words to my songs - it almost jerked me to my knees.

If I could meet any ONE person living or Dead, he/she would: Abraham Lincoln

My favorite junk food: Totino's frozen cheese pizza

My biggest pet peeve: Assholes and lousy tippers

The word or catch phrase I say way too often is: 'Sure, I'll do another interview"

The hardest part of my job: Being away from my wife and kids

The first thing I do when I come home from touring is: pick up my kids and hold them as long as they'll let me

I knew I hit the "big time": The first time I did the Regis show.

My Favorite Website is: www.SisterHazel.com

The worst job I ever had: Tree surgeon.

Right after this interview I'm going to: Pick up my dog from the vet.

I couldn't imagine being on the road without: the rush of performing every night

If I wasn't doing the musician thing, I could really see myself working as: I'd move to Key West, rent bikes to tourists and write books.

My favorite movie ever: Vanilla Sky

My mission in life: To raise kind, open-minded happy children, to make people think, feel, and connect through writing and performing music.

My greatest obsession: To write the next great song.

My first band was: Razor's Edge

My next major step is: To write the next great song.

The greatest contribution guitars have brought into my life is: For as long as I can remember the guitar has been central to everything that I am. I express myself to those closest to me and to the whole world through my songs. Not a day goes by where we don't spend together.

The coolest toy I had growing up was: My little brother

Check out our Website at: www.SisterHazel.com

The one musician I would love to work with that I have not yet had the chance would be: Eric Clapton

If I could have three wishes, they would be: -health and serenity for my friends and family -to spread peace through tolerance -power to heal

When it's all said and done, I want the world to remember me for: Kindness, creativity, and having the legacy of that live on through my children and people who knew me personally and through my work.

There are many more interesting facts in the bio section of the Sister Hazel website... Go check it out!.

Thank you once again Ken for joining us and we are all looking forward to ten years more years of Sister Hazel! I'm always thrilled to have great guitarists join us as we compare notes with other guitarists and fans alike in "Ax Facts & Stats". I want to invite our visitors to check out Ken and the rest of Sister Hazel at their official website at www.SisterHazel.com. Also be sure to check back for the next installment of ExtremeGuitars.com's "AX Facts & Stats" coming real soon!

-Dave Roberts

Copyright 2004 Dave Roberts/Extremeguitars.com, All Rights Reserved.

www.extremeguitars.com is the web home of articles and interviews written by Dave Roberts. All Dave Roberts interviews & articles are available for use or reprint ONLY by Permission. Permission can be obtained by contacting dave@extremeguitars.com. All materials are copyright Dave Roberts and Oceanbreeze Ent., All Rights Reserved.

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