Sierra Hull fell in love with the mandolin almost immediately after her father taught her a few songs on the instrument.
“I think there is really something special the first time you pick up an instrument and you learn how to make music on it,” said Hill via Skype from her manager's office.
Hull was originally attracted to the fiddle, an instrument gifted to her by great aunt and uncle, and her grandmother. But when her father played her a song on his mandolin and showed her it was tuned similarly to the fiddle despite having more strings ... she was hooked.
“I mean the first tune my daddy taught me was a real simple tune called “Bald Man Cabbage Down,” laughed Hull before sing-splaining it with a hearty “doo doo doo do doo doo do doo doo doo do doo doo do.”
“It’s a real basic melody, but I just loved it. I thought ‘wow this is so fun,’” said Hull.
Fun is also a nice descriptor of Hull’s playing since her early days in bluegrass. But a few years ago, the now 27-year old was itching to explore new musical directions. That culminated in her 2016 release “Weighted Mind,” a collection a bit more somber than previous albums; and with songs fleshed out mostly with mandolin, bass and vocals, certainly more stripped down from those albums that had a fuller band sound that includes vocal harmonies. She explained that had a lot to do with the songs she wanted to explore as a songwriter and singer.
“There’s no style of music that really feels that at-home to me as bluegrass,” said Hull. “But I just felt like the songs needed to be treated differently because they were written from a different
It was co-producer Bela Fleck that first suggested the pared down idea.
“And then I went ‘ok there’s freedom here when you’re the only one to kind of really explore the possibility of the song,” said Hull.
Bela Fleck isn’t the only music notable she can name-check as either a friend or close business associate. Signed to Rounder Records as a 13-year old, Hull has already worked with names including Rhonda Vincent, Mac Wiseman, Brandon Heath, and Chris Thile. But it’s Allison Krauss who holds a special place in her heart.
“She was my favorite singer from the first time I heard her when I was nine years old,” said Hull. “That led me to being a big, big fan of her band Union Station and those early recordings with Adam Steffey, one of my biggest mandolin heroes.”
So she dreamed of one day playing with the woman she calls her hero.
“I met her when I was 10-years-old and she so graciously invited me to come play the Grand Old Opry with her when I was 11. I would say with her as much as anybody I’ve had the opportunity to do some really amazing things. I’ve got to play the White House and Carnegie Hall with her,” said Hull.
Sierra Hull plays the Castle Theatre in Bloomington Sunday night with opening act 10 String Symphony Doors open at 6 p.m. with music beginning at 7 p.m.
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