The Hard Road Trio
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The Hard Road Trio

Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States | INDIE

Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Bluegrass


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Praise for MONTICELLO"

“This music will wash over you like a warm desert sun. Sanders and Smith sing together with rich, knowing voices that seem melded together in time”. Missy Raines, Nashville - Bass Maestra Missy Raines

"Praise for MONTICELLO"

“Monticello has a flavor of desert ease with rich tones, colorful stories, heartfelt sentiment and excellent musicianship.” Claire Lynch, Nashville

- The One and Only Claire Lynch

"Praise for MONTICELLO"

“Just when you thought Hard Road couldn't get any better, out comes their new CD Monticello. What a great combination of songwriting, singing, and playing in an outstanding performance package. Steve, Chris, and Anne all turn career performances in this not to be missed package.” Alan Munde, Wimberley TX

- Banjo Legend Alan Munde

""Gifts that Echo New Mexico""

"This crew of talented road warriors have paid their dues and clearly have the right (and the talent) to sing bluegrass, the blues, jazzy country fusion...or whatever they want." Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun News - Las Cruces Sun News - Derrickson Moore

"Review of MONTICELLO/Bruce Bergathon"

"…a special New Mexico ambience that feels both very specific and completely universal. The Trio has the kind of empathic harmony that comes from deep listening and familiarity (as in "familial")." Bruce Bergathon, WGLT, Station manager and host of "Acousticity" - Host, WGLT "Acousticity"

"Review of MONTICELLO"

“The Hard Road Trio present their music like waves reaching for dry land. There is constant movement but nothing ragged. Each stroke or chord strum is performed with grace, the music taking on a dignity and class.” The Alternate Root Magazine - Alternate Roots

"Review of MONTICELLO/John Goad"

“With songs covering topics ranging from a love of nature (My Walden) to the pain of poverty (Crack in the Sky), while also hitting on the common themes of love and heartbreak, the Hard Road Trio shows that they are not just a standard, everyday band.” John Goad, Bluegrass Today - Bluegrass Today

"Review of MONTICELLO"

“Perfect three-part harmonies, Spartan arrangements and awesome mandolin playing make Monticello something special.”

"Performance Review, Nov. '09 - Duo: Steve and Chris"

We have known Chris and Steve for several years with Hard Road. And while we didn't think it could get any better, maybe it has. As a duo their music seems incredibly personal and very exciting. We recently had them in the store for a clinic and personal performance. The participants were completely captivated by the whole event, as were we. Chris and Steve seem to be a perfect musical match. Their voices blend almost like brother and sister. And their musicianship is well . . . . .unbelievable. They were lucky to find each other, but not as lucky as we are to be able to enjoy their music.

Sheila and Clay Powers
Charley's Guitar Shop

- Charley's Guitar Shop

"Praise for MONTICELLO"

"This fine CD reminds me of the raw and colorful beauty of the New
Mexico landscape. Stories of honesty and power. Steve Smith shines on the mandolin... a master."
- Folk Icon Tom Russell

"Steve Smith & Hard Road: Meet Me By the River (2005)"

Steve Smith gets polished more every year without losing his edge. His true grit is diamond dust brilliant in his newest CD Meet Me By the River ... Steve shares heartfelt vocals with Sanders... The CD has a nice flow and style with genre-transcending appeal. It’s fine traveling music.
As a vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter, Smith just keeps getting better all the time. - Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun News

"CD Review - Meet Me by the River"

Steve Smith’s Hard Road is a Band of Enchantment that projects a southwestern approach to mountain music - lots of space and jagged beauty. Built around a sound that merges clawhammer and modern bluegrass, the CD is stylistically flexible, but united by an approach that seeks the soul of each song rather than an overly polished performance. It’s a satisfying experience from start to finish - Bruce Bergethon, host of WGLT’s Acousticity, Normal Ill

"Performance Review, Oct. '09"

Steve Smith and Chris Sanders blend an exquisite musical web of intimacy, humor and grace. Chris Sanders voice pours out like golden brandy. Profound original lyrics accompanied by Steve's passionate instrumental prowess on both mandolin and mandola, make for an unforgettable and richly layered show...they are simultaneously masterful, with complete down-home charm.

A superbly, star-studded performance...the duet delivers a divine offering of profound lyrics, passionate instrumentalism, silky harmonies, and witty stage banter. Whether on a large stage or in a small setting, the same intimacy and grace of human expression through music, always shines through.

Julie Sullivan
Pickin' in the Pines
Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival
Talent Director

- Julie Sulivan, Talent Director, "Pickin' in the Pines"

"Performance Review, Nov. '09"

Steve Smith is undoubtedly among the best mandolin pickers in the known universe, and combined with Chris Sanders marvelous vocals and steady rhythm guitar, they light up a room like the New Mexico sun. From original gospel songs, old standards, bluegrass and folk, Steve and Chris will take you on a journey you don't want to end. If you have a chance to have them play, jump right on it, don't hesitate, it'll be a time to remember. And besides being exceptionally multi-talented, they're just a whole lot of fun. You'll have a great time and so will your audience.
Mike Shirkey
GoodFolk Productions
Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Mike Shirkey, GoodFolk Productions

"CD Review: Only So Fast"

What happens when a Virginia musician adopts Las Cruces as his home? Give a listen to Steve Smith and Hard Road’s Only So Fast, a brilliant mix of old-time bluegrass melodies and Americana tunes peppered with lyrics infused with years of desert living.
“Dry Spell” will resonate with Southwesterners as Sanders belts out, “It’s been a long hot, dry spell / hardly a change in the weather. . . .” … And I was moved by Sanders’s plaintive old-time vocals on “Eden Prairie,” which tells the poignant story of a schoolgirl “in trouble.”
- Emily Drabanski, New Mexico Magazine, June ‘08

"6/2/08 Review: Only So Fast"

That darned seal across the top edge of a new CD that’s usually such a pain to remove just popped right off and took the cellophane wrapper with it. It was a sign. Everything about this album wants to be enjoyed without effort.

Only So Fast – the first and title cut – gets Steve Smith and Hard Road’s signature sound off and running. That compelling combination of precision and wildness conveys the tale of a t-shirted kid running free on a winter morning as told by songwriters Chris Sanders (vocals) and Steve Smith (mandolin, guitar and vocals).

The opening vocals of Eden Prairie just make me sit back and soak up the easy harmony of two voices snug as siblings, but it’s the storyline of this song – a young girl “in trouble” – that really caught me. The artistry of the writing is so simple and insightful it hurts.

Apparently, Nate’s Rambles is an instrumental Steve Smith just “let fly” when asked how to compose a tune. …But from the first notes Elijah Copeland (bass and vocals) lays down, it’s Dry Spell that casts an amazing mood for me. It takes everything Hard Road offers and romances a sense of isolation and lamentation over poverty and the summer heat. What an image – farm house, crying babies, young wife, cotton dress, hair clinging to her neck with sweat, looking out a window at the desert. What a song.

Kim McKee’s Rowan Tree could not be done more beautifully. Chris finds the fine trill that makes the vocal line with absolute grace. Lovely support from Nate Lee on the fiddle. Every hint of embellishment serves the lyric and mood of the song.
- Monica Gomez - KTEP fm

"Bluegrass Unlimited Review: Only So Fast"

… Chris Sanders' songwriting and vocals reflect a musical background that extends far beyond bluegrass…." Sanders' singing is a prime selling point for the band, and it's interesting to hear how it changes in different contexts. On "Eden Prairie," the jagged nature of the chorus's crooked timing keeps the tune and the listener's ear on edge and off balance throughout. However, on the sultry "Dry Spell" and the band's cover of the celtic tinged Kim McGee song "One Lone Rowan Tree," the warmth, depth, and expressiveness of Sanders' voice shine and show how impressive this band can be when at the top of its game. - Bluegrass Unlimited November 2008

"Desert Night Reviewed by David McCarty"

With Steve Smith's Desert Night, his music uncoils around the listener like a desert breeze working its way across the alkali flats of his beloved New Mexico. Over 14 tunes here, Smith conjures up musical images reflecting the enduring sights, sounds and cultures of the desert southwest.
His music is intensely personal, reflecting his own experiences such as the swingy The Grackle and the Hampster, inspired by an experience his young son, Sam, had watching birds feeding outside his window.
Smith isn't a musician to indulge in hot licks or trendy progressions, preferring to craft distinctive melodies and then weave intricate harmonic lines in and around the musical core of each composition.
- Mandolin Magazine

"CD Review - "Signs Along the Road""

There have been changes for Steve Smith, Chris Sanders, and Hard Road. Their third release introduces a totally revamped lineup....
What has not changed is Smith's and Sanders' vision and their dedication to presenting a wide variety of musical styles offered in packages that often swirl and change and break free from the usual pattern of verse, chorus, solo, and which are liberally punctuated with rhythmic interjections and interesting chord colorings. Contemporary bluegrass, country, country rock, jazz, folk, and gospel‹each gets its moment in the sun. "The Same For You" and Smith's mandolin instrumental, "Jon Seivert's Blues" are both straight bluegrass, perhaps even traditional bluegrass in feel. From there it gets further out, culminating in the jazz inflected instrumental "Mice On The Stove."
Smith and Sanders also continue writing lyrics that bounce between introspective psychological examinations and concrete stories, exploring such subjects as talking about "All Things Left Behind", breaking free "Link By Link" from shackles mental and physical, making a plea that the actions of the young were once "The Same For You", and detailing the life of an abused woman who relies on the "Kindness Of Strangers." These combined with more traditional love and loss themes offer quite an array of emotions. Signs Along The Road refuses any one label, except perhaps that of good, evocative music.
- Bluegrass Unlimited, June 2010


Steve Smith: Hard Road, 2004 Desert Night Music BMI

Steve Smith and Hard Road: Meet Me By the River
© 2005 Desert Night Music BMI

Steve Smith and Hard Road:
Only So Fast, 2008 Desert Night Music BMI

Steve Smith, Chris Sanders and Hard Road:
Signs Along the Road, 2009 Desert Night Music BMI

The Hard Road Trio:
Monticello, 2012 Desert Night Music BMI



THE HARD ROAD TRIO took the long road to get to a place where their music feels at home. With their original Southwestern acoustic blend of Americana and bluegrass from the wide-open spaces of New Mexico, The Hard Road Trio extends their roots into old time, jazz, country and modern chamber music. The Trio—mandolinist Steve Smith, guitarist Chris Sanders and bassist Anne Luna—is the product of nearly thirty years of touring and performing, the amalgamation of three songwriters who have found their collective voice in the light and air of the Southwest.
(Their songwriting has landed them best gospel and best instrumental songs at the New Mexico Music Awards in 2006, and best gospel and bluegrass awards in 2008 for “Save Me” and “This Dream”.)

Acclaimed mandolinist Steve Smith, versatile vocalist Chris Sanders and talented newcomer bassist Anne Luna have performed at the Black Hills Bluegrass Festival, Bluegrass on the Green in Illinois, Bozeman Folklore Society, Yellowstone Bluegrass, House of Musical Traditions in Washington D.C. and Goodfolk Productions in Fayetteville, Ark.

Often joined by the dynamic and internationally known banjo player Bill Evans as THE HARD ROAD TRIO + BILL EVANS, the group has been heard from coast to coast and border to border, including Bluegrass in the Desert in Tucson, Berkeley's Freight and Salvage, Denver’s Swallow Hill, Pickin' in the Pines in Flagstaff, the Wildflower Concert Series, the Albuquerque Folkfest, Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountain Festival and the Prism Coffee House in Charlottesville, Va. For many years Steve and Bill have taught at Camp Bluegrass at South Plains College in Levelland, Tex. Chris and Anne have also been on faculty.

Steve Smith - Mandolin, mandola, guitar, vocals, composition

Steve Smith holds his father and Herman Tomlin as his earliest musical influences. Steve has been a performer for nearly thirty years in about as many types of musical situations as one can imagine: as a solo artist, bandleader, as in-demand sideman and session player and producer in traditional bluegrass (his first love), old-time, western swing, Irish, jazz and chamber music. His Virginia roots and many years of traveling the country give him a unique hard-driving instrumental sound coupled with a powerful tenor. His composition studies have resulted in works used in soundtracks, on public radio, and even on the Weather Channel.

Steve has toured nationally and internationally as a solo artist. Besides leading Steve Smith and Hard Road, he has performed with the 1980’s progressive bluegrass band Cloud Valley based out of Charlottesville, Virginia, the Jim Hurst Band, the Bill Evans String Summit and the Alan Munde Gazette. He maintains a busy teaching and workshop schedule that has included Zoukfest in Santa Fe NM, the California Coast Music Camp, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and twelve years as mandolin instructor at Camp Bluegrass.

Chris Sanders - Vocals, guitar, piano, composition

Chris Sanders is a Minnesota transplant that now calls Las Cruces, NM home. Her diverse background includes singing and playing keyboards in a variety of bands, delivering singing telegrams and teaching middle school music. She holds a masters degree in vocal performance and has taught in the Commercial Music program at the University of Texas at El Paso where she directed the UTEP Jazz Singers. In her long career she has toured internationally as a choral singer, performed in recital as singer and pianist, and co-founded "Actors' Training Project", a dramatic arts program in the San Francisco Bay Area. In February of 2008, the musical "We Are Enron", which she co-wrote, premiered to packed houses at New Mexico State University where she was on the voice faculty for ten years. She has taught at Hill Country Acoustic Camp, appearing at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 2009. She counts Neil Semer and Dede Wyland as major teaching influences; she has also been influenced by Mary Chapin Carpenter and Joni Mitchell.

Anne Luna - Bass, vocals, composition

Anne makes her home on the shores of Lake Sumner in the cabin she inherited from her grandparents. While attending South Plains College where she received her AA in Commercial Music (2004), Anne was voted Female Instrumentalist of the Year for two consecutive years. To complement her instruction at SPC, Anne studied classical bass techniques at Texas Tech University (where she earned a degree in biology!). She has recorded with Alan Munde, Kenny Maines and Amanda Shires and performed with the Spring Creek Bluegrass Band, Doctor Skoob and the Acoustic Groove, the April Verch Band, Steve Smith and Hard Road, and Hot Foot Toby. Her playing has been described as graceful, elegant and at the same time, hard-driving. As an instructor, her energy and easy-going manner create a welcoming atmosphere for students.


THE HARD ROAD TRIO'S music grows from Steve’s love of bluegrass rooted in his native