Led Foot
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Led Foot

Band Country Rock

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


By Monica Ortwein, Associate Editor

The soft rock/country pop band Led Foot will open up for Clay Aiken's sold-out show at this year's nine-day-long polka party.

Led Foot has been living up to its name recently: the band is in quite a hurry for Musikfest this year. But who can blame them? The local group will open for American Idol runner-up and quirky-hairdo-sporting singer Clay Aiken on August 6 at Musikfest. (Consider yourself lucky if you got your tickets to the show early, though – the gig is now sold out.)

Led Foot’s Heather Hillegass’ never off-key vocals are part of the group’s countrified charm; the band’s mostly quiet, introspective songs are reminiscent of those by Carly Simon and Martina McBride (the latter vocalist being one of Hillegass’ key inspirations). In other words, it’s not exactly the type of music your headbanging older brother would be into. But if you’re a country fan, this is one local band worth checking out.

An opening spot for any of Musikfest’s national acts is a sweet slot for a local band to score. How did Led Foot do it? Well, vocalist and acoustic guitarist Heather Hillegass won the American Idol-like Star Of Bethlehem contest last year (her rendition of Bobby McGee has made her a local celebrity of sorts), which landed her a space on this year’s Musikfest stage as well as a bevy of other prizes – like a chance to go to Nashville to record and shop her album around.

About a year ago, however, Hillegass joined Rick Correll (bass and lead vocals), Todd Wesner (drums), Kevin Klotz (lead guitar and vocals) and newest band member James Wood (rhythm guitar and keyboards) to sing vocals in Led Foot. When Musikfest’s organizers called Hillegass to see if she wanted to open for Clay Aiken this year, Hillegass and the rest of the band jumped at what they saw as the perfect opportunity to show the Lehigh Valley what they’re made of.

Hillegass has been a musician since she was a young girl. She started off doing square dances with her parents’ band when she was only four, and she continued to sing with their group until she was 16. Hillegass then performed with Rapid Fire, another country band, before joining up with Led Foot. “I love it because it’s a variety,” she said of being in Led Foot. “I sing guy songs too, and it’s not just country. I sing everything from Janice Joplin to Journey.”

Led Foot’s newest member, James Wood, has also been into music for most of his life. But his story is a little different from Hillegass’ – after graduating from Easton Area High School, Wood joined a metal band called Silent Rage before going on to play original classic rock tunes with the local bands Hero/Zero, No Frills and 2 On 1.

Even though it seems unlikely that a former metalhead would be keen on country, Wood has completely made the transition to Led Foot’s softer rock sensibilities. “If you had told me five years ago that I’d be in a country band playing tunes [by] Patsy Cline along with Journey and all that, I’d be like, ‘You’re crazy!’” he admitted to us in a phone interview.

Wood knew from the get-go that Led Foot’s style was one that worked. (By the way, you can sample a few of the band’s tunes, including a new duet featuring Hillegass and Wood, at www.ledfoot.net.) In fact, the first time Wood played with the band live, “I’d never experienced that kind of a crowd, and they were just so into everything we played,” he recalled.

When it comes to the band’s future, Hillegass and Wood both agree that the Clay Aiken show is the chance of a lifetime. “Our goal is to get as many jobs as possible and perform as much as we possibly can, but as for any goal that we’d actually have, I think we’re going to succeed in that on the sixth,” Hillegass said. “Just the opportunity to open for a big-time star is incredible.”

Although Hillegass, a learning support teacher, has arranged to go to Nashville in October to fulfill her Star Of Bethlehem contest winnings, she has no plans once when she gets down there – other than to prove to the industry that she’s got what it takes to make it in the professional recording world. “I’m not guaranteed a record deal or anything like that,” Hillegass said, “but even if it’s to be a backup singer, if they call me three months from now and say, ‘Here’s your opportunity,’ I’m going to take it.”

When it comes to longevity in the music business, everyone knows how fast your 15 minutes can come and go – just think of all those American Idol runner-ups that didn’t go the same route Clay Aiken did (cue William Hung singing a Ricky Martin tune here). But Led Foot will be far from a flash in the pan, if Wood and the rest of the band have their way.

“Every couple of days something else is happening,” Wood said. “It just looks like the future’s really bright right now.”

- Pulse Weekly


Consisting of five very talented area musicians, Led Foot is giving the locals something to holler about. Its flavor is one part pop, one part country ... and two more parts country. The result is a pretty tasty treat that's made even sweeter by lead singer Heather Hillegass' fantastic voice.

Led Foot's newest release, a 10-song barrage of pop-country songs (three of which are original tracks written by the group), is a poppy take on traditional country. The seven other songs are contemporary country covers (entertaining, to say the least). I think the band has enough talent to carry on a full original set. Its own songs, You, Brighter Days and Thoughts Of You, are well-conceived works that show the band's original artistic side
- Pulse Weekly


Led Foot is an interesting band. They escape complete classification because they mix so much into their musical stew - there's country, pop, blues, gospel and rock to name a few. But the way the band mixes adds their personal spices to the sonic blend, which is creative and refreshing.

Most bands who are eclectic in their influences usually f--k it up by sounding too "out there" and jumbled, but Led Foot stays consistent.

Lead singer Heather Hillegass (who won the star of Bethlehem vocal competition at Musikfest) is the centerpiece for the band. Her soulful timbre mixed with her confident swagger makes lines like "I'd give up my daytime soaps for one night of romance" sound, well..a lot better than they actually are.
- Pulse Weekly


Discography

CD: The Long Road - Released 2006

Led Foot's All Original CD containing 12 tracks including Always Be There, nominated as Best Original Song at the Lehigh Valley Music Awards and Brighter Days which is in radio rotation in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre PA area.

CD: DINER - Released 2005

Voted BEST COUNTRY CD at Lehigh Valley Music Awards 7.

Features three Original Songs: Brighter Days, You and Thoughts of You.

Also included are seven classic rock and country covers done in the Led Foot style.

CD: Led Foot - Released 2003

Contains ten classic rock / country covers including a version of Me and Bobby McGee which has become the band's trademark closing number and brings audiences to their feet.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Nominated for FIVE Lehigh Valley Music Awards including Best Female Singer, Best Original Song and Best Overall CD.

The group features the smooth and powerful vocals of Heather Hillegass, winner of the inaugural "Star of Bethlehem" competition at Musikfest, the nation's largest music festival held annually in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

What sets the band apart from the rest is their combination country/classic rock show and original material.

The band is well known for it's rendition of the Janis Joplin classic "Me and Bobby Mcgee" which ends every show and brings audiences to their feet.

The band prides itself in playing in a variety of venues and entertaining crowds from small clubs and fairs to main stage act. In 2004, the band was the opening act for RCA recording artist Clay Aiken at Musikfest 2004. Performing a thirty minute set in from of a sold out crowd of 6,500.

In the Summer of 2005 the group performed as the opening act for Mercury recording artist Julie Roberts at the Reinholds Country Music Festival in Reinholds, PA.

In between, the band has played extensively in the club circuit and does annual fairs and festivals to rave reviews.

Order the band's latest release DINER ( Lehigh Valley Music Award Winner for Best Country CD ) from their website or world-wide through Tower Records and CDBaby.