• Beautiful Music Together - Sierra Hull and Justin Moses in Concert in Austin, Texas

    Sierra Hull and Justin Moses give fans a sweet, stellar performance.

    Justin Moses and Sierra Hull

    AUSTIN, TX. — Twenty of the fastest fingers in music took the stage at a repurposed Methodist church here and put on a clinic in world class musicianship this past week.

    Along the way, as the saying goes, Sierra Hull and Justin Moses made beautiful music together.

    The royal couple of the new generation of bluegrass spend much of every year apart—with their own bands, with other musicians' bands, in the studio, at festivals. So they intentionally carve out some Justin-and-Sierra time. Their tour of Texas lasted just three days: Austin, Houston, and Dallas, where they opened for Lyle Lovett. Dallas was the last time they were scheduled to perform together for eight months.

    About the author: Steve Levine is a photojournalist and communication consultant based in Austin, Texas. Find his best words and pictures at linktr.ee/stlevine.

    "These dates are one way for us to spend some quality time together as a married couple in addition to the musical dynamic we have," Moses said. "Traveling with your partner can feel more relaxed in many ways, and it's nice for us to be able to have that from time to time."

    Justin Moses and Sierra Hull

    Hull said concerts with just her and Moses "are always a highlight of my touring schedule." Early in the Austin show she told a joke about fans who don't know the two married. "This lady said, 'Honey, I think that boy has a crush on you.' And I thought, 'I sure hope so.' "

    Austin's 04 Center holds about 300 in comfortable seats downstairs in the old church sanctuary. The old-fashioned balcony hangs way in the back and seats another 70. The sound is clear and clean throughout the building. A nearly packed house took in the Hull/Moses show, which the folk duo Ordinary Elephant opened.

    On stage, Moses and Hull used lots of watching and grinning to convey their deep appreciation for each other's musical chops. They ripped through two dozen or so numbers in roughly an hour and a half, playing homage to bluegrass icons like Norman Blake, Ralph Stanley, and Doc Watson as well as numerous songs from their own catalogs. The pair's innately expressive musicianship electrified every tune.

    As expected from the reigning International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) mandolin and resophonic guitar players of the year three years running, Hull and Moses dazzled the crowd and each other with their performances on those instruments. But the lineup changed frequently: mandolin and guitar, guitar and guitar, mandolin and dobro.

    Justin Moses and Sierra Hull

    And when Hull twice announced, "It's mandolin-thirty" both picked up mandolins to collaborate on songs like "Cattle in the Cane" and an instrumental called "Foolin' Around" that may or may not have been the Buck Owens classic. Each took turns playing stunning leads and complex rhythm parts that not only chopped but also flowed above, below, inside, and outside the notes their partner played.

    "Sierra is at the very top of the list of great musicians I've been fortunate to get to play with," Moses said. "She's so versatile, and that gives us the ability to do a wide variety of material. We've played together so much through the years that it just feels very natural and fun to play with her."

    Justin Moses and Sierra Hull

    Hull offers equally effusive praise for her partner.

    "Justin is such an unusual talent," she said. "I can't think of anyone who can play as many instruments at an equally high level and sing both lead and harmony the way he can.

    "The fact that he also happens to be my husband and best friend in life is just the icing on the cake."

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    Comments 4 Comments
    1. CarlM's Avatar
      CarlM -
      Here is about 20 minutes from soundcheck before the Lyle Lovett show that I posted a couple of days ago. Bassist Leland Sklar, who was playing with Lovett, is taking the video and commenting.

    1. Zardoz's Avatar
      Zardoz -
      My stomach dropped to the floor at about 2:05 when Sierra put her mandolin on the stand and the strap seemed to grab onto her arm - I thought for sure that thing was headed for the floor! Otherwise, my jaw was on the floor as usual when listening to these two.
    1. stl.images's Avatar
      stl.images -
      Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
      Here is about 20 minutes from soundcheck before the Lyle Lovett show that I posted a couple of days ago. Bassist Leland Sklar, who was playing with Lovett, is taking the video and commenting.

      Wow. Your name dropping what mustíve made for an outstanding show. Sorry I missed it. Video is now too on my list to watch. Thanks for reading and for sharing.
    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      Noting the anniversary of this feature.