The Hired Hands Band

The Hired Hands Band is an six-member band from the Kalamazoo area. Members include (left to right) Willy T. Rose, Bill Hughes, Laura AllisonBob Allison, Tim Cooper and Dale Hein. Dale, Bill, and Bob founded the band in 2010, originally under the name “Hein, Hughes, & Allison.” Several months later, Tim and Willy T.  joined the group and, shortly thereafter, the name was changed to “The Hired Hands.” Laura, Bob’s daughter, has always made special appearances with her Dad on-stage, but she officially joined the Hired Hands in 2015.

From the beginning, the idea was to combine the members’ collective interests in the Jazz, Blues, Folk, Country and Rock genres to craft an eclectic blend of American roots music. Did it work? If audience response and repeat invitations from venues all over West Michigan are any indication, the answer to that question is an overwhelming “yes!”

The Hired Hands perform a variety of original material and cover songs from roads less traveled than the popular music media. The repertoire includes plenty of familiar favorites by the likes of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the Allman Brothers; however, the HHB plays just as many songs by lesser-known artists, like Eric Bibb, Josh Ritter, Wilco, and The Decemberists. Whether a particular song is familiar or not, you will find that the Hired Hands give it their own signature style.

Here is a bit of background on the members who make up the band:

bob_bio_2Bob Allison

Bob plays guitar and is the unmistakable voice of the Hired Hands. He has played guitar and sung with a wide variety of Country/Rock and Bluegrass bands in Michigan, most notably Heartland. As a member of the Moody Coyotes, Bob demonstrated an affinity for singer-songwriters of the Folk and Country traditions, an interest that is wonderfully compatible with the Hired Hands repertoire!

laura_bioLaura Allison-Nicol

Laura, Bob’s daughter, was heavily influenced by her Dad’s taste in music. She essentially learned to sing around the campfire. About the time Bob, Dale, and Bill were forming the band that would eventually become the Hired Hands, Laura was singling harmonies for an Alt-Country band in Chicago, called the New 65’s. After sitting in with the Hired Hands here and there for a few years, she decided to formally join in 2015. Her beautiful voice and contributions on the banjo have added a new dimension to the band.

dale_bio_2Dale Hein

Dale Hein plays harmonica (more commonly called "harp" in some circles) and also sings in a variety of Bluesy styles. Like Bill, Dale is heavily steeped in the Blues – he has played with variety of Blues bands in the Kalamazoo area, and recently ended a 9-year stint with the Blue Moon Blues Band. Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Dale attended college in Ohio, where he picked up the harp and learned to play the Blues.

He moved to Kalamazoo in the mid 70's to pursue a graduate degree at Western Michigan University. During this period, Dale owned and operated a used record shop in the downtown area, which explains his massive vinyl record and CD collection, as well as his wide-ranging taste in music.

t_bio_2Willy T. Rose

"T" as he is affectionally known to his band mates, plays a fine, Blues and Boogie Woogie-style piano. Proficient in multiple "roots" traditions, including Country, Swing, Bluegrass, Old Timey, and Irish, his presence adds some hot sauce and authenticity to the Hired Hands' rootsy flavor. And oh yeah ... did we mention this guy can sing? Willy T. can also belt out some fine Jump Blues vocals as well.

Mr. Rose lives up yonder in the "North Country," and often travels a great distance to play with the Hired Hands. When he does, his joyful sound benefits everyone in the room – the band, as well as the audience!

bill_bio_2Bill Hughes

Bill is no stranger to music. In fact, he is the most schooled musician in the Hired Hands. His band mates often rely upon his expertise to help break down and analyze music while learning new songs. Bill originally learned to play the trombone, then eventually decided to call the bass guitar his instrument of choice. As a founding member of the Hired Hands, he decided to challenge himself by transferring his skills to the stand-up, string bass.

Bill is also affiliated with the Seventh Son Blues Band; and many moons ago, he played with Black Cat Bone as well. So Bill's musical influences are solidly rooted in the Blues. However, over the years, he's played for a wide variety of groups from the Rock and Country genre's. At one point in his carreer, Bill even played regularly with a band that played Surf music covers! This versatile background makes Bill a perfect fit for Hired Hands.

tim_bio_2Tim Cooper

Tim quit the drums over a humiliating experience with his middle school band teacher. At the time, dropping out of band seemed like a superb act of defiance. However, Tim spent the better part of his high school, college, and early adult years regretting that decision. In 2000, his oldest son – then a middle schooler and accomplished drummer himself – invited Dad to attend a Summer-long, world percussion workshop.

The experience turned out to be a true awakening for Tim, re-introducing him to art of drumming but, this time, with bongos, congas and other hand-played percussion instruments with exotic names. He joined his church band as an auxiliary percussionist, then went on to play with 2nd Shift, a Kalamazoo-based Classic Rock cover band. Upon joining the Hired Hands in 2010, Mr. C. decided it was time to stand up to that old band teacher, and re-acquaint himself with the drum kit. Nice.
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