Interviews

Sister Hazel's Drew Copeland on Hank Williams Jr., Disney, and Beerfest

​Sister Hazel's 1997 hit "All for You" is still reverberating in the back corners of our collective consciousness. For many folks, though, that's where ties to the band end. What those folks may not be aware of is that the Gainesville product is a very different creature than that poppy anthem lets on. The guys tour constantly and have released nine albums since their rock radio breakthrough in the '90s, including a pair in the past three years -- 2009's Release and 2010's Heartland Highway.

Today's Sister Hazel features more of a Southern, jam-band vibe with a legion of devoted fans called "Hazelnuts" who pay attention to set lists, trade bootlegged recordings, and flock to see the band on land and sea. They play festivals -- their own is called "Hazelnut Hang"-- and for 12 years running, they've hosted Rock Boat, which was one of the pioneer "floating festival" music cruises.

Recently, when many NFL fans tuned into Monday Night Football expecting to hear Hank Williams Jr. belt out his signature "Are you ready for some football?" line, they instead were treated to Sister Hazel's Ken Block and Andrew Copeland singing the national anthem. ESPN had pulled Williams' intro -- and broke ties with him permanently -- after he made a comment comparing Barak Obama to Adolf Hitler on Fox News.

Sister Hazel headlines the 14th running of New Times' Beerfest on Saturday. Ahead of that gig, we chatted with Copeland about cruising, singing for 16 million people, and potentially playing a Disney-hosted magic mushroom festival in the future. 


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Travis Newbill