• 48°

Sister Hazel’s Ryan Newell talks about headlining Cheerwine Festival, new music

By Jessica Coates

SALISBURY — Ryan Newell has never tried Cheerwine before.

But that could change on May 19.

Newell is the lead guitarist for Sister Hazel, a band that has been described as playing music that defies genre.

“I think we’re just big fans of getting the music out there, no matter what genre it is,” Newell said. “If people hear us and hear our music, we think they’ll like it.”

Sister Hazel is the headline band for this year’s Cheerwine Festival, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 19 in downtown Salisbury. The band will play from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Sister Hazel’s song “All for You” hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997.

Newell said Sister Hazel has visited Salisbury several times before and thinks of it as a “hometown.” He said he is looking forward to performing new music at the festival in May.

“We have a new EP out and another one on the way, and we’re playing songs off that as well,” Newell said.

Newell said he’s always thought of Sister Hazel as a “live band” and said the musicians continue to get better the longer they play together.

“So in that way, it stays fresh. If we didn’t get better as a band, we would have worn out a long time ago,” Newell said. “The band’s writing is a lot better than it ever has been.”

The band has been together since 1993.

Newell said the band wanted to start releasing more music more often, which is why it is now working on EPs. EPs tend to be shorter than records.

“And an interesting thing to tie them all together is at the end there is a one-minute song that is going to carry on to the next record and the next record,” Newell said. “So by the end of all of them, it will be one long song. We’re writing it as we go along. They’re my favorite part of the record.”

Sister Hazel will release four EPs over the next two years that will each reflect a natural element. The first one, “Water,” was released Feb. 9.

At the Cheerwine Festival, Newell said the band will play music from the second EP, “Wind.”

“We’re trying to be a better band and do things differently than we’ve done before,” Newell said.

Members of Sister Hazel — Newell, Ken Block, Jett Beres, Andrew Copeland and Mark Trojanowski — met in college in Gainesville, Florida.

The band’s 2018 “Roll on Bye” tour will also be stopping in Chicago; Memphis, Tennessee; and Savannah, Georgia.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.



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