Lonely Heartstring Band going on indefinite hiatus

The Lonely Heartstring Band, one of the premier progressive bluegrass acts in the US, have announced today that they will be taking an indefinite hiatus at the end of the 2019 touring season.

They had developed a loyal and dedicated following among fans of acoustic string music, and though what they wrote and performed was often well outside the bluegrass mainstream, they consistently created it within the traditional bluegrass ensemble format. All the five members of the group were masters of their instruments, with guitarist George Clements serving as the primary vocalist.

Clements, his twin brother Charles on bass, Patrick M’Gonigle on fiddle, Gabe Hirshfeld on banjo, and Maddie Witler on mandolin launched the group almost on a lark, in response to a note posted on a bulletin board at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The notice was seeking a bluegrass band to play Beatles music at a wedding reception, and the challenge was one that captured their imagination.

That sort of artistic challenge remained a theme for Lonely Heartstring Band from that day forward. Their music challenged themselves as artists, and was often challenging for audiences expecting something else from a quintet composed of banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bass. But Rounder Records believed in them, and they have been traveling all over the US with their very contemporary sound.

Making your own path can be difficult in the music business, and going from early adulthood to regular adulting puts pressure on any group of people that forms just after college. Lives change, relationships change, and expectations do as well. Hence, a hiatus.

As groups do these days, rather than calling it quits, they say they are taking a break, offering the chance of a reunion or even return to full-time touring at some point.

They shared this statement today with their fans, friends, and families…

After six incredible years of touring, recording and hanging out in our van, we’ve decided that it’s time to take a break. Beginning in September, aside from the odd show here and there, we will be going on an indefinite hiatus. This is not an easy decision to make but right now it feels like the right one.

The past six years of playing music for y’all has meant more to us than we can express here. You’ll have to take our word for it that you’ve provided us with life-changing, positive experiences that we will carry with us forever. We’ve been welcomed into a community of music-lovers and music-makers that spans the world, we’ve been challenged in our beliefs and ways of being.

We’ve grown as individuals and as a band. Being in a full-time band is a beautiful, intense and unique experience, and we’re grateful to you all for providing us spaces to make music, eat, sleep, hang-out and grow.

There are too many individuals to thank specifically, so we will just say to you all: THANK YOU!

This isn’t a final goodbye, just a break for us to grow individually. So, come see us somewhere this summer – And we will be sure to let you know where and when we play again down the road. See you out there!

Here’s a sample of their sound, a music video for The Tide, from their debut album in 2016.

You can hear more music from the band on YouTube, including the music from their latest recording, Smoke & Ashes, on Rounder Records.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.