When:July 27, 2023
Time:7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Where:eTOWN HALL / 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Cost:$34+ Taxes & Fees

Doors: 6 PM

Show: 7 PM

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We’re excited to welcome Grammy-nominated bluegrass singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull to eTown Hall on July 27th for a full concert!


All Ages Welcome

No Refunds or Exchanges

Sierra Hull

In her first 25 years alone, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull hit more milestones than many musicians accomplish in a lifetime. After making her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, the Tennessee-bred virtuoso mandolinist played Carnegie Hall at age 12, then landed a deal with Rounder Records just a year later. Now 28-years-old, Hull is set to deliver her fourth full- length for Rounder: an elegantly inventive and endlessly captivating album called 25 Trips. Revealing her profound warmth as a storyteller, 25 Trips finds Hull shedding light on the beauty and chaos and sometimes sorrow of growing up and getting older. To that end, the album’s title nods to a particularly momentous year of her life, including her marriage to fellow bluegrass musician Justin Moses and the release of her widely acclaimed album Weighted Mind—a Béla Fleck- produced effort nominated for Best Folk Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards. “There’s a lot of push-and-pull on this record, where in some moments I feel like everything’s happening so fast and I wish I could slow it all down so I can really enjoy it,” Hull points out. “But then there are also times where I’m looking forward to the day when the craziness has died down a bit, and life’s a little calmer.” Made with producer/engineer Shani Gandhi (Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Sarah Jarosz, Alison Krauss), 25 Trips continues the musical journey begun on Weighted Mind, a body of work that built off Hull’s bluegrass roots and ventured into entirely new terrain. But while its predecessor assumed a sparse and stripped-back palette, 25 Trips embodies a far more intricately arranged sound—an effect achieved with the help of peers like guitarist Mike Seal, bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, violinist Alex Hargreaves, and fiddler Christian Sedelmyer, as well as several musicians that Hull has long admired (including bassist Viktor Krauss, guitarist Bryan Sutton, and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan). Along with integrating electric instrumentation and percussion into her material for the first time, Hull dreamed up the album’s eclectic textures by embracing a free-flowing process that often gave way to lightning-in-a-bottle improvisation. “There were some songs that we created from the ground up, where I’d go in and play by myself, and from there we’d bring in other musicians to add more and more layers,” Hull says. “It was really wonderful to work that way, where we started from a place of mystery and then just let the song show us what it wanted or needed to become.” Immediately proving the power of that approach, 25 Trips lures the listener into its unpredictable sonic world on the beguiling opening track “Beautifully Out of Place.” With its shifting tempos and gently tempestuous mood, the song was sparked from words of encouragement spoken by Hull’s husband at a time of self-doubt and confusion. “I remember Justin saying to me, ‘I believe in you, so you’re just going to have to learn to believe in yourself,’” she recalls. “That inspired the first line for me, and the song just wrote itself from there.” Although much of the album bears a rich complexity, 25 Trips also includes moments of stark simplicity that perfectly showcase Hull’s stunning vocal range. On “Everybody’s Talking,” for instance, her luminous vocals quietly capture the frustration of finding clarity in the midst of constant chatter from the outside world. And on “Ceiling to the Floor”—co-written with Kai Welch, a songwriter/musician known for his work with Glen Campbell and Abigail Washburn—Hull spins a tender metaphor from her longtime fear of heights. “I was telling Kai about how when I was little my dad used to try to get me over that fear by holding me up to the ceiling and saying, ‘Just touch it—I’m not gonna let you fall,’” she explains. Featuring a performance from legendary steel-guitar player Paul Franklin, “Ceiling to the Floor” drifts from memory to real-time reflection, slowly unfolding as a nuanced meditation on courage and love. One of the most unexpected turns on 25 Trips, “Escape” emerges as a delicate collage of hypnotic percussion, otherworldly electric-mandolin tones, and poetic yet plainspoken lyrics (e.g., “I want to escape to a world that’s not closing in”). “I didn’t even have that song on my list for the album, but I played Shani a voice memo and right away she said, ‘I wanna record that,’” remembers Hull, who penned “Escape” with singer/songwriter Angel Snow. “I was a little hesitant since it’s so unlike anything else I’ve done, but in the end it was really exciting to play electric and come up with something in a completely different vein.” In closing out 25 Trips, Hull shares an especially poignant track titled “Father Time.” “I wrote that song with Mindy Smith after spending a week with my husband and his grandma, after his grandpa had a stroke on Christmas morning,” she says. “His grandma had suffered with Alzheimer’s for years and couldn’t really stay by herself, and through that experience I decided to write about watching my husband take such good care of her, and how that made me love him even more.” With its heavy-hearted melody and choir-like harmonies, “Father Time” shows Hull’s effortless finesse in embedding her music with so many subtle details (including an instrumental reference to “Jingle Bells” tucked into the second verse). “We had our instruments with us at Christmas, so at some point we played ‘Jingle Bells’ for my husband’s grandma,” says Hull. “She can’t remember my name or Justin’s name now, but for some reason ‘Jingle Bells’ stuck, and she still asks for it year- round—it’s the most amazing thing.” Even as its songs continually shift in genre, encompassing everything from bluegrass to folk-pop to ethereal alt-rock, 25 Trips remains rooted in the sophisticated musicianship that Hull has cultivated almost her entire life. Hailing from the tiny Tennessee hamlet of Byrdstown, she learned to sing from her mother as toddler, took up mandolin just a few years later, and began joining in local bluegrass jams by the young age of eight. With her childhood triumphs including joining her hero and mentor Alison Krauss onstage at the Grand Ole Opry at age 11, she made her Rounder debut with the 2008 album Secrets and promptly garnered the first of many nominations for Mandolin Player of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. In 2016, after a near- decade of consecutive nominations, Hull became the first-ever woman to win the award—then claimed that prize again at the 2017 and 2018 IBMAs. Over the years, Hull has also maintained a rigorous touring schedule, and has made occasional guest appearances with such icons as the Indigo Girls, Garth Brooks, and Gillian Welch. Marking a bold new era in Hull’s artistic evolution, 25 Trips wholly channels the pure and palpable joy she discovered in the album’s creation—and ultimately illuminates certain truths about the indelible connection between risk-taking and reward. “One of the things I most enjoyed about making this record was getting to show the wide variety of music I love,” says Hull. “I don’t really know what category the album falls in, but I also think that matters less and less. What really matters to me is trusting myself to be who I am, and just putting my voice and my heart out there in the most sincere way that I possibly can.”

Madeline Hawthorne

About Madeline Hawthorne: “Stepping with boots she’s breaking in / Running on dreams and adrenaline,” Madeline Hawthorne sings at the top of her remarkable solo debut, Boots. “Hit the pavement walk a mile / Don’t know what she’s doing and it makes her smile.” “I’ve always had to learn by doing, by taking these leaps of faith,” Hawthorne explains. “It only felt right to kick off the album with a character who’s finding her own way, someone who’s enjoying the process of having no idea what she’s doing and just believing in herself regardless.” Written and recorded following the dissolution of Hawthorne’s longtime band, The Hawthorne Roots, Boots is indeed a leap of faith, but more than that, it’s a work of profound reflection and self-discovery. Co-produced by Brad Parsons and Fruition’s Tyler Thompson, the album reckons with evolution and independence, facing down the pressures of modern womanhood with unflinching honesty and steadfast resilience. Hawthorne penned much of the material here during quarantine, and while the struggle for balance and stability is an ever-present one, she consistently refuses to surrender to despair or uncertainty, pressing forward with a relentless drive that fuels her riveting performances. The result is a raw, rousing collection that blurs the lines between roots, country, and soul as it transforms pain into beauty and doubt into hope—a bold, ambitious debut from an artist learning to trust her instincts and chart her own course one step (and one song) at a time. “Making a solo record was a terrifying and exciting prospect all at once,” Hawthorne confesses. “I’d never written without the safety net of having other people around to bounce ideas off of before, but at the same time, I’d also never really experienced the freedom of being able to truly say whatever I wanted, however I wanted.” It was that prospect of freedom and self-expression that attracted Hawthorne to songwriting in the first place. Born to a classical vocalist mother and a concert conductor father, Hawthorne was surrounded by music throughout her childhood in New England, but she never considered it a viable career path until she landed in Montana for college. “I was studying sustainable food systems at the time,” she recalls, “but I started going to more and more concerts and feeling this itch to be onstage. And then I went on this 26-hour road trip to the Electric Forest festival in Michigan, and that really sealed the deal. Being surrounded by people who loved music so deeply, the feeling of connection and community, it all left me with no doubt in my mind that I needed to start pursuing music in a very serious way.” So Hawthorne picked up the guitar she’d played sporadically since her teenage years and began taking formal lessons at a nearby music shop. In her spare time, she took a job working as an artist liaison at a local acoustic venue in Bozeman, where she learned the ins and outs of the industry firsthand. “I remember taking Ray Wylie Hubbard out for fried chicken before a show one night, and he took out a sharpie and wrote all these notes for me about making my way in music,” says Hawthorne. “Getting to meet all these incredible songwriters and pick their brains definitely had a big impact on me.” Determined to use everything she’d learned and pick up the rest as she went along, Hawthorne launched her first band, The Hawthorne Roots, in 2014, and quickly built a loyal following around Montana. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle hailed the five-piece’s “tightly woven harmonies and relentlessly catchy melodies,” while Bozeman Magazine readers voted them Best New Band and Best Folk Performers in the annual Bozeman’s Choice Awards. With their profile on the rise, the group began touring throughout the West, earning dates with the likes of Nicki Bluhm and Dustbowl Revival and landing festival slots from Targhee and Yarmony to Red Ants Pants and Big Sky Big Grass. “Not only did I write and perform,” says Hawthorne, “but I also managed most of the day-to-day, our tour schedule, marketing, everything. We were totally independent, which meant that pretty much all of my time and energy was devoted to the band.” When COVID hit, though, the group’s momentum came to a screeching halt, and by the summer of 2020, they’d decided to go their separate ways. Back at square one, Hawthorne found herself unsure of her next steps but determined not to let society’s expectations stand in her way. “I was feeling the push and pull of wanting stability and a family along with all the other pressures that come with being a woman in this industry,” she explains. “But I had this revelation that I didn’t have to subscribe to anyone else’s ideas of how I should live my life, and the next day, I was out in the shed behind my house writing this album.” When it came time to record, Hawthorne stepped out of her Montana comfort zone and flew to Pittsburgh, where she cut the core of the album live in the studio over the course of just two-and-a-half days. Inspired by Sheryl Crow and Tom Petty, the performances were raw and loose, with freewheeling, improvisatory arrangements often locked in on the fly as the band discovered the music in real time. “I’d never worked that way in the studio before,” says Hawthorne, “but it just felt right for these songs. We needed to all be in the room together feeding off of each other’s energy and intuition.” That energy and intuition lies at the heart of Boots, which consistently zeroes in on the sweet spot between ecstatic abandon and thoughtful introspection. The gritty “Rein It In” meditates on the importance of taking stock and slowing things down, while the driving “Train” insists on forging ahead in the face of resistance, and the soulful “Strange Familiar” wrestles with anxiety and expectation. “I was trying to reconcile the idea of motherhood and having a family someday with my life as a touring musician,” explains Hawthorne. “Eventually I had to remind myself that nobody really knows how they’re going to make it work. All you can do in this life is trust your gut and figure it out as you go.” It’s a lesson Hawthorne returns to throughout the album, learning to let go of the past and stop projecting into the future in order to find peace in the present. The tender “Joker” meditates on the liberating power of forgiveness; the bittersweet “Long Cold Night” searches for common ground in the midst of conflict; and the lilting “Riverbank” (which features Fruition’s Mimi Naja on mandolin) embraces the serenity of simplicity. It’s perhaps the album’s final track, though, the stripped-down “Rara Avis,” that best encapsulates Hawthorne’s journey, as she sings, “It’s time to take a trip on your own / Wandering child you rolling stone / Your house is on fire / Time to reacquire the words you lost not long ago.” “I wrote that song about learning to get back in touch with myself as a songwriter and an artist and a performer,” Hawthorne explains. “‘Rara Avis’ is a literary term that means rare bird, and I was feeling like it was finally time for me to be my rare, unique little self and spread my wings.” Every flight, after all, starts with a leap of faith.

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