A Chat With Sister Hazel’s Mark Trojanowski

Sister Hazel ~

Sister Hazel talks to Eat Play Rock about Hazelnut Hang, Rock Boat XIV, touring and more

With catchy and meaningful tunes like “All For You,” “Change Your Mind” and my personal favorites, “Champagne High,” “Your Winter” and “Thank You,” Sister Hazel has been cranking out tunes to a very receptive fan base {with diehards known as the Hazelnuts}. You should see how many Twitter followers they have! Their unique blend of pop, folk, Americana and country sounds and accessibility to fans has helped to secure Sister Hazel’s longevity in a changing musical landscape that has lasted since the mid 90s. Eat Play Rock got the change to talk to Mark Trojanowski, the band’s drummer, to see what Sister Hazel has been up to.

Mark and I chatted on the phone for a bit about Sister Hazel current events. Mark shared about the weather in Atlanta, his current home. He said it had been so rainy there that it was the most he had seen in 10 summers {very similar to the climate when he lived in Florida}. {I live in NC, and it has been crazy rainy this summer here, too.}

Eat Play Rock: Tell us about the inspiration for the band’s name.

Mark: Sister Hazel Williams was a minister who ran a soup kitchen. Ken {Block} would see her on TV doing commercials offering to help people get back on their feet. He thought that she was no longer with us but it turns out that she was in Belize doing charity work.

Did she care that you used her name for your band?

She called Ken and the story goes that he met her for breakfast at a Shoney’s to talk about the group. She said that she did not mind us using her name for the group as long as we sent a positive message.

Sister Hazel Rock Boat XIV

Cruise With Sister Hazel On The Rock Boat Cruise

I was looking around online and found the Rock Boat Cruise. That sounds fun!

The Rock Boat Cruise is in it’s fourteenth year and started as a tribute to the fans about our “Fortress” album. It started out with about 20 bands. Our then manager, Sixth Man, even started his own music cruise business and bands like KISS, Kid Rock, John Mayer and Zac Brown Band have since done them. We kind of got that started.

How do you decide on ports of call?

We let the fans decide that. Having done so many, of course we have some repeats so now we spend 4-5 out to sea and a couple of those days on a private island where we set up a stage and play for 2 days. It’s really about getting the fans together and having a good time.

Sister Hazel’s Hazelnut Hang

What exactly is the Hazelnut Hang?

The Hazelnut Hang happens after Memorial Day in May or June, at the Windjammer in South Carolina’s Isle of Palms. A bunch of fans come together and we do 5-6 concerts. We do a lot of stuff like a cover show and b-sides that you can’t always see us do in concert.

Can anyone come to the Hazelnut Hang or is it just for certain fans?

Anyone can come. There are different ticket options, some with meet and greets and dinners with the band. It’s a lot of fun.

{Editor Note: I just looked up the price for the Hazelnut Hang. It is REALLY affordable!}

I saw you guys a few years ago in concert and you did your set list in alphabetical order. What a cool idea! In all of the concerts I have seen, I have never seen that. Who came up with that?

I can’t even remember that. That’s cool that you can!

It was probably like 10 years ago. I am surprised that I can.

It was probably just a random thing. We have a core bunch of songs that you have to play for the fans and otherwise the five of us take turns deciding what else gets played each night. We try to add in some stuff we haven’t played in forever.

Do you have any new projects that you are working on or other things to share?

We have a lot of new songs. We are currently looking for a record home, but everyone in the group writes and some have publishing deals in Nashville.

If you have publishing deals in Nashville, are you doing any country music?

Music is often categorized with broad strokes and we think we have a country, Americana, folk, southern rock and pop in our music. It’s like Darius Rucker who used to record with Hootie and the Blowfish and now does country music. We have a similar sound to the bands like the Band Perry and Lady Antebellum and we haven’t really changed. We have been doing it since the 90s.

I agree. It’s often hard to find the music you are looking for in stores because how they categorize it and how you categorize it is totally different.

You Can Help Sister Hazel Help Those In Need

What else do you have going on that you would like to share?

We have Lyrics For Life. Ken’s brother died of cancer {as a youth} and we have since raised over $1,000,ooo for the fight against cancer.

We also partnered with Feed The Children this year. We actually went to Honduras ourselves in February and saw the difference they are making for ourselves. They are working on ensuring that children’s basic needs are met, such as getting 2 hot meals a day and safe drinking water. We would like to raise $75,000 so that we can get maybe 10-15 fans together and all go together and build a feeding center for the children. We hope to make that happen this fall.

Sister Hazel talks to Eat Play Rock about touring, the Hazelnut Hang, Rock Boat XIV and more.

Catch Sister Hazel On Tour

Sister Hazel is currently on tour. For all of you in NC like me, they will be in Winston-Salem at Ziggy’s on 9/27, at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington on 9/28, and Raleigh at the NC State Fair on 10/17.

Socialize With Sister Hazel

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About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.


  1. Thanks so much for this wonderful interview with Mark! Sharing!

  2. I think it’s great how they got their name and that they are indeed doing good!
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  3. Jenna Wood says

    I used to listen to Sister Hazel….well, when you did 10 years back, I loved the stories they told and the mellow rock vibe. You’ve inspired me to dig out my old albums again!

  4. Sounds like that would be a great cruise to be on!
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  5. Would love the cruise, great post love the videos & the tunes, thanks for sharing!
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  6. How awesome. What a great interview. I have been a huge Sister Hazel fan for a long time. Thanks so much for sharing.
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  7. That cruise sounds like a lot of fun! Great music!
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  8. I am glad they kept their promise to send a positive message through their music! wonderful!
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  9. I don’t think I knew their band name before, lol, but I’ve listened to their music and love the sound. Great interview πŸ™‚
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  10. I’ve heard of Rock Boat Cruise how cool I didn’t even know the story behind it or Sister Hazel. I was a fan of theirs too and need to hook up my ipod with some of my faves.

    • Dawn McAlexander

      We have one of those cool blue tooth enabled speakers in the living room. I have been listening to “Champagne High” on repeat for like a day {playing from my phone}. I think my husband might kill me, lol. πŸ˜€

  11. The Rock Boat Cruise sounds like it would be a fun cruise! Great interview!
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  12. Oh I never heard of the rock boat cruise!! This is awesome!

  13. Love where they got their name! Very neat! My favorite is Sail Away! Listen to that one at least a few times a week on my playlist when I start cleaning house!
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  14. That cruise looks like a lot of fun.
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  15. I love reading your interviews! Such great questions, and insight into them as a person. I have always love that song “All For You”. It’s funny because when I hear a song, I know the song but never who sings it. I won’t be forgetting Sister Hazel. πŸ™‚
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    • Dawn McAlexander

      Thank you very much. I am pretty much the opposite, lol. I generally know who sings a song, but I have to think about which song of theirs it is. πŸ™‚

  16. Not only do they seem like a talent but I love the fact they have raised 1M for cancer. It’s awesome when a band has a cause because they have such an incredible platform to reach people from!
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  17. Kudos for them for raising 1 M for cancer! What a great band that cares!
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  18. Can’t believe I haven’t heard of them! I need to ask hubby now if he has because he is the music guru! Sound great though!
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  19. this sounds like it would be an awesome cruise to go on!
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