Whiskey Jacques’ will welcome back Bozeman-based Americana group The Hawthorne Roots for the third time this Saturday, Feb. 15, with doors opening at 9 p.m.
Sisters Madeline and Emma Kelly founded the band in 2014, landed their first studio recording the following year and by 2016 had started touring the West.
In March 2018, The Hawthorne Roots made their first appearance in Ketchum at Whiskey Jacques’ and, having enjoyed that engagement so much, have made a point in scheduling return dates for 2019 and 2020.
“Ketchum is just this awesome, magical town. We have so much fun there, meet all sorts of cool people and, well, we stay up way too late,” said Madeline, fading into a chuckle. “It’s always an adventure. We don’t normally kick off the tour there, but Ryan [Kolquist, general manager of the bar] and everyone at Whiskey Jacques’ always treat us really well. We’re spoiling ourselves at the beginning of the tour this time.”
Citing a list of top-tier influences including the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt, Heart and Neil Young, The Hawthorne Roots have cultivated a memorable Americana sound, perhaps best exemplified in their debut 2018 EP “On Second Thought.”
Experimenting with different lineups and instrumentations while maintaining a solid foundation of core members—including the two sisters—the band is quickly amassing a devoted fan base throughout Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Along the way, they have also raked in consecutive Bozeman Best of Music awards since 2015.
All that is not to say that the band has had a trouble-free ride to this point. Band members come and go, touring brings its challenges, things change and doubt can creep in, but Kelly said persistence is key and hard work does have a tendency to pay off.
“The show must go on. We have to clear every hurdle that comes along, and as an independent band, there are a lot. You have to love it and be willing to work at it. Ultimately, the love for music is the only thing keeping you going.”
Fortunately, the members of The Hawthorne Roots do all love music—listening to it, playing it, writing it: the whole shebang. For Madeline Kelly, family is key to that process.
Speaking of her sister, she said, “When we were kids we always fought, as sisters do. We were close, sure, but we became much closer being in a band. The way we sing, it’s so easy to figure out our harmonies. I don’t know what it’d be like to tour without my sister. I’ve never done it. I don’t particularly want to.”
The rest of the band cohere into a kind of family as well.
“Everyone supports everyone else,” Kelly said. “All the different pieces, in a good band, are complementary to each other. That’s a family thing. It’s respect, love, building each other up. If everyone’s trying to shine in the spotlight, it becomes a discombobulated mess.”
Rather than compete for center stage, the band works together and has enjoyed success because of it. That, and because they promote a positive message—one that Americana music is particularly well suited to deliver.
“There’s a huge potential to send a message, the message of love,” Kelly said. “It’s at a personal level, living in a time right now when there’s a lot of fear. Fear turns into a reaction and that reaction can be dangerous, but music has this ability to bring people together and put you in a headspace where all those worries can go away, even if it’s just for a few fleeting moments at a live show.”
Doors open at Whiskey Jacques’ at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, for The Hawthorne Roots’ third Ketchum concert in as many years. There will be a $5 entry fee at the door.
Learn more about the band at hawthorneroots.com or check out some of their music on various streaming services.