They started off small, playing outside of local bars and clubs, trading performance sets for beers. But Friday, 18 years after their formation, Sister Hazel returned to Gainesville to play at a larger venue, the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
The native Gainesville band kicked off the Phillips Center’s 20th season. Sister Hazel had not performed in Gainesville for three years prior to Friday’s performance, said lead singer and guitar player Ken Block.
“We were gonna do [a show] last year, but this is the anniversary for the Phillips Center, and we wanted to be a part of that, and they asked us to be,” Block said. “So we postponed for a little bit and here we are today.”
Sister Hazel formed in the early 1990s and is best known for its 1997 hit song, “All For You.” The song remains the band’s most successful single.
“[The song] caught on, and we went from a band in a trailer to our first platinum record,” Block said.
The band has about 120 live performances per year, Block said, but it never performs more than 10 live shows per month so that band members can spend time with their families. Four out of the five members are parents, and they all make an effort to put family responsibility first, Block said.
“It’s challenging but it’s just like everyone else with their job,” he said. “I’m never gone more than five days at a time, and everybody that knows me knows I’m either at Publix, soccer fields or picking up my kids from school.”
Although he’s busy spending time with his kids and wife, Block become a co-owner in a local coffee shop, CYM Coffee Co., located at 5402 NW 8th Ave. The coffee shop is named after one of Sister Hazel’s songs, “Change Your Mind.”
“It’s just a place where people in Gainesville can come together and get creative, connect the dots and unplug,” Block said.
Sister Hazel’s last studio album, Heartland Highway, was released in 2010. The band is writing new material and will return to the recording studio in a few weeks. A new album should be available in the spring, Block said.
“I love the evolution of the band,” he said. “It’s one of those evolutions when you go back to your roots and reinvent it. We all feel good about where things are going.”
Mina Radman edited this story online.