Renowned mandolin player brings progressive bluegrass to Strings this weekend |

Renowned mandolin player brings progressive bluegrass to Strings this weekend

Sierra Hull, 2021 International Bluegrass Music Assocation Mandolin Player of Year, will take the stage at Strings Music Pavilion on Saturday. The two-time Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter made her Grand Ole Opry debut at age 10, played at Carnegie Hall at 12 and landed a deal with Rounder Records a year later.

Her fourth record, “25 Trips,” was released in 2020, and Hull is finally able to perform these tunes on stages across the country. As her latest tour wraps up, she will make her Strings debut along with special guest Dead Horses. Explore Steamboat caught up with Hull ahead of this weekend’s show.

Explore Steamboat: To start with, tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into the mandolin?

Sierra Hull: I grew up around music — from hearing it in church to my parents who both loved music. My mom had a beautiful singing voice, and my dad was very into bluegrass. I had a great uncle who lived next door to us, and he was self taught on the mandolin and fiddle, so I remember hearing those instruments at an early age. My dad got interested in learning how to play the mandolin, and I started to want to learn how to play something too. One Christmas, I got a fiddle, but it was too big for me, and I couldn’t reach the end of it. The mandolin and the fiddle are tuned alike, so my dad showed me how to play a few things on the mandolin to save me the disappointment of not being about to start on my new fiddle right away. I fell in love with it and knew right away that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

ES: You found success at an early age — what do you attribute that to?

SH: So much of it is being completely blessed to be in the right place at the right time. There are so many talented young kids out there, and I just happened to be in the right circle. You know, you go to a jam session, and someone sees you and invites you somewhere else, and that word of mouth early on afforded me some opportunities to get in situations where I got to meet a lot of my heroes at a pretty young age.

ES: From making your Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10 to being a Grammy-nominated artist, how have you found that your musical style has changed over the past two decades?

SH: Early on, I was so rooted in the traditional form of bluegrass music. That’s a beautiful thing because you get a chance to build a sense of community and have roots somewhere. But as the years have gone on, my curiosity has evolved through music and my desire to explore. I’ve been influenced by other genres as time has gone on. I think that’s reflected in the music I’m making now — it’s inspired by the roots and foundation of bluegrass with lots of other influences in there, as well.

ES: You released “Weighted Mind” in 2016 and then followed up with “25 Trips” five years later … tell me a little bit about that span of time.

SH: I was constantly touring on the back heels of “Weighted Mind,” and I was exploring with different lineups on the road. I had different versions of a trio, some with piano, saxophone, electric guitar. … It was a really exploratory few years of touring, which was fun in a collaborative sense. I had an opportunity to hear different sounds in my music. It was also a time to pause and really make time to get a new project going. And then, when I did that, the world shut down.

If you go

What: Sierra Hull with special guest Dead Horses

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6

Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 950 Strings Road

Tickets: Start at $30; to purchase, visit

ES: Yes, but now it looks like you’re back on the road quite a bit and have an extensive touring schedule. What are you most looking forward to?

SH: It’s been so great to finally feel like I can go out and play a lot of this music that I wasn’t able to play because my album release tour was basically canceled in 2020. It feels like a full circle to come back and share some of this music live and in person with people. There was something special about having time away, and it was the longest break that I’ve ever had from being out on the road, but I think the gratitude of having the opportunity to go out and play for people feels very heightened right now.

ES: What can the audience expect from your show in Steamboat this weekend?

SH: I have some great musicians on tour with me right now, and we have a bunch of different instruments going. I’m doing a mix of my new record but also digging back into my early material. I feel like I’ve had an opportunity to go back and embrace some of my bluegrass roots in kind of a progressive way.

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