Get your slope on

Sister Hazel builds local community of music

Sister Hazel considers itself more of an institution than a band.

The band started The Rock Slope music festival with Sixthman to give participating musicians a chance to get to know their fan bases.

¤ The Rock Slope music festival

¤ March 29 to April 2

¤ Steamboat Ski Area

¤ Pioneer event pass is $529, show pass is $175

¤ (404) 525-0222

The Rock Slope, hosted by the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel, will showcase bands such as Cowboy Mouth, Edwin McCain, Bo Bice, The Clarks, Dada, Emerson Hart, Zac Brown Band, Christopher Jak and Sister Hazel.

"At the end of the day, it was all about community building, writing songs you believe in and putting together passionate shows," said Ken Block, lead singer of Sister Hazel. "To nurture and give out an opportunity to have people converge from all over the world on something, first and foremost about the music."

After 12 years of touring, Sister Hazel has developed relationships with many artists. The bands chosen to participate in The Rock Slope had "to be cool, accessible, plugged in and not prima donnas," Block said. "They are all great artists with the ability to get up and jam with each other."

The musicians plan to take over the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel during their stay.

"You get the social lubricants flowing, grab a guitar and come out and start playing," Block said. "Spontaneous things happen after you set things up."

For a few years, Sister Hazel was a band that never missed a party, Block said. Now, three of the band members have children, and all are married. When not touring, Block spends his time with his family.

"I have a crush on my kids like I'm in seventh grade. We have a blast," Block said. "It is such a cool thing to watch these humans unfold."

It's not just their own families that members of Sister Hazel look out for.

Block's brother died at age 18 after a four-year battle with cancer. The ordeal inspired Block to start "Lyrics for Life," his own charity.

"Everyone in the band has been affected by cancer, and over half a million dollars was raised in the first few years for research on childhood cancer and for enriching their lives," Block said.

Sister Hazel raised $30,000 during this year's The Rock Boat, an event similar to The Rock Slope. The band plans to raise money in Steamboat, too.

Block is excited for The Rock Slope because he sees it as an opportunity to "see artists in a bit of a different light and to get to ride up a ski lift with them."

Sister Hazel chose Steamboat to host the event because people here understand "what we were trying to do by building a community and are passionate about life and coming together, eager to get down," Block said.

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