The Haines Brothers Band, growing up around the guitar
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The Haines Brothers Band performs

Growing up around the guitar

By Abigail Roberts | Echo

It is not often one finds the words lawyer, university president, skilled musician and band member combined in one sentence, let alone combined in one individual. Taylor University President
Lowell Haines is the rare exception.

A throwback from the '70s. Try to find Lowell among his fellow band members. (Photograph provided by Lowell Haines)

A throwback from the ’70s. Try to find Lowell among his fellow band members. (Photograph provided by Lowell Haines)

Growing up as missionary kids in South Korea, the Haines household was one always filled with music. Their father’s deep bass voice and love of hymns marked all three brothers with a heart for song.

“The record player in the living room was a favorite family possession,” Haines said. “(Subsequently) Doug, Terry and I rarely feel more at home than when we lift our voices in harmony.”

Haines and his brothers grew up on American folk rock, as the Armed Forces American Radio Network (AFKN) was one of the only stations available. By the time they reached high school, the acoustic guitar had become the center of attention.

Finally in 1997, at Taylor University, the Haines Brothers Band was formed. The voices and acoustic skills of the Haines brothers combined with Jimmy Wheeler’s lead guitar, Steve Doles on the bass, Tim Graves on drums and Jeane Cowherd on the banjo. They spent 1977-81 touring schools, prisons and venues, and opening for artists like Grammy award winner Paul Williams.

Although sometimes labeled as country rock, the Haines Brothers Band’s music is quite the antithesis of rock and roll. Their music was influenced by powerful artists of the time like James Taylor and Bruce Cockburn, reflecting the music styles of the ’60s and ’70s.

“We would have every one of their (James Taylor’s, Bruce Cockburn’s, etc.) albums that was ever made . . . (and) go deep into an album, really learn about the artist,” Haines said.

After a few years together, the band went their separate ways.

The Haines brothers recording their album, "Friday's Highway." (Photograph provided by Lowell Haines)

The Haines brothers recording their album, “Friday’s Highway.” (Photograph provided by Lowell Haines)

In 2014 Lowell Haines’ wife, Sherry, suggested the brothers make an album to preserve their songs. So the “Haines Bros Friday’s Highway” was recorded and released with the help of top producers in Nashville, Tennessee.

This last week Taylor University had the privilege of hosting the Haines Brothers Band for the first time in over 20 years. They were joined on stage by friends whom they have played with in the past.

“I debated on whether or not to have a concert at Taylor,” Lowell Haines said. “I figured we would end up doing it at the President’s house so why not do it.”

The guitar pull, as Lowell Haines called it, took place last Thursday at the Bond Plaza with over 200 students, faculty and friends in attendance. A guitar pull is not, as the name might suggest, a tug-of-war over a prized guitar, but rather is the coming together of multiple musicians, in this case 12. With various instruments, rhythms and melodies at the ready, the group launches into a night of song. Each musician offers a different flavor, and the audience can only guess where the night will go.

“It’s not really a concert,” Lowell Haines said. “Guitar pulls have their roots from the ’60s. It is a comfortable stage, and we each take turns on the mic.”

With practices at 10 a.m. on Thursday with the brothers and a practice at 1 p.m. with the Oasis Band, Haines Brothers Band and friends were ready to perform. The familiar strings were plucked, harmonica notes rang clear, their melodic voices raised in harmony once more and spirits rose to share their music with a new crowd. The warm lighting from floor lamps, carpet on the stage and tea, coffee and cider served to each attendee created a familiar living room atmosphere at the heart of campus.

The group represents a blend of various personalities and talents. Lowell Haines noted how they have everyone from preachers to rock and roll musicians in the mix.

Phil Madeira, one of the most noted artists on guitar, piano and voice in the music industry, joined the band on Thursday evening. Winner of a Nashville Music Award and Dove Award,  Madeira has been playing with Haines since their Taylor college years.

“He is the most amazing piano player I have ever seen,” Lowell Haines said. “A real renaissance guy, highly regarded in the music industry.”

The Haines Brothers concert stood as a rich presentation of music from the ’60s and ’70s. Including some of the Haines Brothers original music, this was a rare and special experience for students, friends and faculty alike.

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