The Hummingbirds

The Hummingbirds

 Detroit, Michigan, USA
DuoAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Southern charm & Detroit grit is the essence of this Americana duo. 3 time Detroit Music Award winners, The Hummingbirds grip both northern and southern roots, blending grit with hospitality and charm. "Rachel Lynn’s husky tuneful drawl balances S.G.’s deeper twanging intones, a mix of rambling Southern-driving roots rock, Appalachia-hued Americana, classic country with alternative charm and even dusty tumbleweed-blown folk-roots with gospel hues," (Creative Loafing Magazine, Tampa, FL).

Band Press

The Hummingbirds Breathe a New Wild Energy into Americana music – Keith Hadad - The Waster

On 13 Days, The Hummingbirds breathe a new wild energy into Americana music, keeping certain traditional sounds alive while also giving their own, unique spin on the genre.

Comprised of husband-wife duo, Rachel and S.G. Wood, The Hummingbirds play amazingly catchy, swaying country folk songs that are oftentimes equal parts rollicking and sultry. Their sound is rich with polished harmonies, twanging mandolins and rustic guitars on top of an assemblage of mournful fiddles, steel slide and drums. In some ways, their songs sound like if Nickel Creek backed The Civil Wars for an overnight barn-stomping session.

One of the standout tracks here would have to be the provocative “Borrow Me.” This song just aches with hazy sensuality. The vocals drip with earnest longing while the waltz-like tempo bumps along with steamy mandolin, subdued electric guitar and brushed drums. Towards the end of the song, a musical saw weeps several woeful notes, casting a slightly eerie shadow over the song’s romantic subject matter.

From the rowdy title track and “Horses & Rattlesnakes” to the gorgeously stripped down and somber “Fast Love,” The Hummingbirds proved that they are a strong, vastly gifted and distinctive voice in the worlds of country, folk and roots music.

The Hummingbirds – 13 Days – No Depression Magazine

I popped the CD in and while both S.G (Stephen Grant) and Rachel Wood – The Hummingbirds – look the part, it wasn’t until the CD started to spin and my speakers started to reverberate with the title track “13 Days” that I got it. Rockabilly guitar strums, S.G’s distinctive Buddy Miller-type vocals, and wonderfully clever lyrics lassoed my ears and tugged.

Rachel is an excellent counterpart when she answers S.G.'s vocal with: “You kept your dishes in the oven and never put the toilet seat down.” Ouch. That kind of lyric sets apart the commercial drek and it's from a duo that has its finger on the pulse of great country-inspired story songs. Jason Mowery’s lap steel whines like a mother-in-law from hell throughout the song. The song is simple, it’s short and it’s like a shot of whiskey – potent and brief.

The second tune, "Waste My Time," displays smart, crystal-clear guitars, steady drums, and the harmonies are delicious. I am not up on my guitars, but these are tuned in a special way – or the guitars themselves are what? Resonator? Something picked up in a pawnshop that was once played in 1938? The tone is perfectly suited for this song. Kudos to the guitar player or whoever thought this sound was ideal for this song. It is. It’s like veteran guitarists Duane Eddy, Lonnie Mack, or Link Wray joined an Americana band. There’s a little spice in this recipe like The Blasters or The Del Lords. Real nice cross-pollination of folk-rock and rockabilly. The vocals are still in that Buddy-and-Julie Miller vein -- but, so what? Those two singers are excellent. The Hummingbirds have it down to a classy, evocative presentation that is all their own. They have added something to the mixture that I haven’t figured out yet. It has a quiet exuberance to it.

The Hummingbirds Present 13 Days – Creative Loafing Magazine

The Hummingbirds aren’t actually from Tampa Bay, but the Detroit native husband-and-wife roots duo played here an awful lot before re-locating to the area last year and are currently shopping for a
permanent home to call their own while promoting a new album, 13 Days, its title track an amusing back-and-forth duet about a rather short relationship and all the reasons it went right (and wrong). Rachel Wood’s husky tuneful drawl balances S.G.’s deeper twanging intones, their instrumentals (built on vintage electric guitars, drums and banjo) a mix of rambling Southern-driving roots rock (“Horses and Rattlesnakes,” “Red Truck”), Appalachia-hued Americana (“Fast Love,” “Borrow Me”), classic country with alternative charm (“Richer with Nothing,” “Leave This Town”) and even dusty tumbleweeds-blown folk-roots with gospel hues (“Listen to the River”).

The Hummingbirds present 13 Days at a release party that features support from a few other local twangy staples — Rebekah Pulley and Will Quinlan.

The Hummingbirds' Album Release Party takes place this Sat., Aug. 29; doors open at 6 p.m., with the show to kick off at 8 p.m., at Hideaway Café & Recording Studio, St. Petersburg, Admission is $12.

The Hummingbirds Win 5 Detroit Music Awards – Detroit Music Awards

Detroit Music Awards 2007

-Outstanding Instrumentalist
-Outstanding Folk/Country Group
-Outstanding Vocalist

Detroit Music Awards 2008

-Outstanding Folk/Country Group
-Outstanding Instrumentalist

Best of Washetenaw County 2008
(Current Magazine)

-Best Folk/Country Group

A New Country Tradition: The Hummingbirds – Ann Arbor Observer, —James M. Manheim

"Buddy and Julie Miller, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Steve Earle, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, and lots more!" reads the favorites list of vocalist Rachel Lynn of the Hummingbirds, sent to me in an e-mail. Lynn and Stephen Grant Wood, who make up this Ypsilanti duo, draw on both the classic country music and the country-themed rock currently known as Americana, and they're creating a simple, unusually close fusion of the two. Among nationally known Americana musicians, Buddy and Julie Miller come closest to defining what the Hummingbirds are doing, with their sharp lyrics, subtle guitar colors, and widely spaced male-female harmonies. Lynn and Wood cowrite most of their songs and take their time polishing new ones to perfection.

What makes the fusion work is the Hummingbirds' immersion in classic country styles. They picked a good place to immerse themselves: a bluegrass musician once asked me, on hearing that I lived in Ann Arbor, "Isn't that near Ypsilanti?" Lynn and Wood honed their chops at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse bluegrass jams and worked with some of the musicians in the orbit of the late, lamented classic country AM radio station WSDS. They can sing country harmonies with the best of them (each sings harmony when the other is singing lead), and when they dig into a lyric like "I can't get on with my life/'Cause I can't get you off my mind," you can almost convince yourself you're listening to a country duet from decades ago. Rachel Lynn's voice adds to the illusion — a throaty alto with an instinct for bearing down on the pitch so as to create really cutting harmonies. It's an extraordinary instrument that you'll swear you've heard before on the radio somewhere.

But the Hummingbirds aren't mannered country revivalists wearing Nudie suits and ornate cowboy boots. Their lyrics are fresh and full of strong emotions, and they find simple and effective ways of situating their songs in the present. One of the best is "Cry on the Freeway," a waltz, sparsely accompanied with mandolin, about when it's "time to cry on the freeway, all the way home." "Six ninety-six is full of its tricks/Bending and winding its way through the sprawl," Wood sings. "Well, I'm screaming my head off, like a lone Rolling Stone, cryin' on the freeway, all the way home." With vivid economy, the basic barroom emotion of the classic honky-tonker is transferred to the world of younger clubhoppers.

Each Hummingbirds song is a carefully assembled unit, with sparingly applied rock guitar textures grafted onto old two-step and waltz rhythms in such a way as to highlight the idea of the song. At Top of the Park last summer, and again at Conor O'Neill's a few weeks ago, I heard the Hummingbirds expanding their range, both instrumentally and lyrically. The TOP show showcased several of their new songs. "Nebraska Snow" is a more detailed and resonant portrait than they've done up to this point, of a woman left alone in a midwestern winter, "mixing Mai Tais in a blender, reading postcards sent from San Diego." "Where can you go in Nebraska snow, when you can't see the road up ahead?" she worries. "I don't think I can remember/A time I felt so cold."

Sooner or later, country music's audiences are going to tire of the southern-fried power ballads that rule the genre at the moment, and a sparer music is going to come to the fore. When that happens, the Hummingbirds just might have a shot at the big time; they've already forged a music that draws more creatively on country roots than that of most of their Americana counterparts. The Hummingbirds share a bill with Jo Serrapere at the Ark on Sunday, October 1; they're also at Conor O'Neill's on Thursday, October 19.

—James M. Manheim

[Review published October 2006]

Emotional Thunderstorms: The Hummingbirds – Ann Arbor Observer, Alan Goldsmith

Two things lured me to the music of the Ypsilanti country music duo the Hummingbirds before I heard a note. One was the stark black-and-white picture on the cover of their debut CD, Depot Town. The photo of singer and rhythm guitarist Rachel Lynn and lead guitarist and vocalist Steve Wood taken on a train track reminds me of something from my mother's childhood photo album circa 1930 from the hills of eastern Tennessee. It sets a tone that, along with the band name, lets you know up front that this duo has a flair for image setting.

Fortunately, the music lives up to the image. For better or worse, everyone with a Fender guitar and a cowboy hat has jumped on the Americana train the last few years, and a lot of the resulting music is shallow and trendy and boring. The interesting thing about the Hummingbirds is that while they channel and call up the greats of the past, they have figured out it's Ann Arbor 2005 and not Nashville in the glory era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Rachel Lynn's voice recalls Rosanne Cash in its straight-ahead pop country control, but with the soft accent of someone addicted to Kitty Wells records. Cash talks about growing up on Sun Records and the Beatles, and Lynn's singing has that same mix of the past and the present. Likewise, Steve Wood's voice is one part George Jones and one part Nick Lowe. And both vocalists are smooth as Tennessee sipping whiskey.

The band has lots more to offer than just pleasant voices. Wood is probably one of the best undiscovered electric guitarists in town, and he's mastered the knack of getting a sweet, ringing twang from his Telecaster. Both Wood and Lynn are impressive songwriters, too. On a bluesy tearjerker like "The Last Time We Talked," the sense of watching someone from your past rocketing toward self-destruction is chillingly real, and even on the up-tempo "Vancouver," the snapshot of homesickness viewed from a hotel room on a cold and rainy day goes straight to the heart. The easy voices contrast with these stark emotional thunderstorms in a way that makes their darkness even more sharply felt.

I caught the band at Portofino, a cozy cafe with the same vibes I used to get listening to music at the late, lamented Gypsy Cafe. For an audience of perhaps ten people, Lynn and Wood (with Embassy Hotel Records mate John Latini — another undiscovered jewel of the local music scene — sitting in on pedal steel) played a long set of songs about cheating and sadness, empty hearts and trouble. It's the familiar stuff of classic country music, of course. But when the lyrics hit home, the two voices intertwine, and the guitar is crying away, the Hummingbirds have all it takes to become classics themselves. You better catch them in small cafes — they're at Crazy Wisdom on Friday, April 8, at Old Town on Sunday, April 24, and at Conor O'Neill's on Thursday, April 28 — while there is still time.

—Alan Goldsmith

Country/American Duo on the rise to make Ark debut – Ann Arbor News, Roger Lelievre

When it comes to harmonies, few are as sweet as those offered by the Ypsilanti-based duo, The Hummingbirds, playing at the Ark tonight (Oct. 1, 2006).
The Hummingbirds - vocalist Rachel Lynn and Telecaster twang-man Stephen Wood - play country/Americana that's so good, the Detroit Music Awards honored their latest CD with an award for Outstanding Country Recording earlier this year.
Lynn and Wood met about four years ago through a mutual musician friend, and are a couple both on and off the stage.
"We used to sit around in our living rooms only and play music. Finally we decided it was time to take this show on the road" Lynn said.
Live, The Hummingbirds offer a mix of strong originals influenced by the classic country of the 1950's-70's, but may at any time launch into covers of tunes by the Rolling Stones, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan and others.
"We get a lot of our inspiration from classic country" said Wood. "Nobody does it like Loretta Lynn or George Jones anymore. There's so much great music that's lost to this generation. We're just trying to incorporate that sound into what we do as The Hummingbirds."
This is the first Ark show for the twosome. The set will include originals and maybe a well-chosen cover or two, Lynn added. "We'll also be performing some brand new songs. We're really excited about the show!"

CD Review: The Hummingbirds – Mark Lush, Midwestbands.com

I truly enjoyed listening to The Hummingbirds! There is good musical quality on the record from beginning to end! Whether it be the musical talents of Stephen Grant Wood, who provides guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica and lap steel, the vocal talent of both Rachel Lynn and Stephen Wood, or the work of the additional musicians who contributed their talents, there isn’t anything that I would point out as a flaw. The Hummingbirds is a solid musical effort that shows the natural talent of the duo, as well as their ability to communicate feelings and ideas through their voices and instruments. I definitely give The Hummingbirds high marks for their ability to entertain.

Some songs definitely outshine the rest (“Vancouver” and “Tell Me How You Feel” come to mind), but as a total package, Rachel and Stephen have a solid collection of songs! Lyrically and musically, they provide a good mix of songs; some are serious while others are humorous. Additionally, some are toe-tappers, while ballads show the softer side of the songwriting team. The voices, melodies and song patterns are also varied, so that one song doesn’t always sound like the next. It is a truly well-written and well-performed album that grows on you the more you hear it.

I really liked the sound achieved on this record! The Hummingbirds are supported by top-notch studios and engineers in their home town, and the supportive Country/Folk scene that exists in and around Ann Arbor and Detroit help give the musicians the energy they need to make a solid record! The Hummingbirds captures all of the best that Rachel and Stephen have to offer, and with the engineering/recording/mastering/production work of an incredibly talented crew, it is sure to be a favorite of Country fans for a long time to come.

When you think of Country Music, I know that Ann Arbor, Michigan isn’t the first place you think of! However, if you take the time to listen to The Hummingbirds’ self-titled CD, I’m sure that it will begin rating a very close second. Members Stephen Grant Wood and Rachel Lynn have created a very tight record, with pieces and parts of all the best elements that make up Country music! In particular, I found that the group’s Alt-Country leanings made me smile, as I remembered early Dwight Yoakam, Lone Justice and Highway 101 records! Added to that, you have guitar playing similar to that of Brad Paisley, and sultry vocals that bring Tanya Tucker to mind! It really is a good record that will win fans all over the world.

With about a half a dozen listens under my belt, I keep finding things about this record that I like, and know that you will too! Get youself a copy of The Hummingbirds, and get a little Ann Arbor/Bakersfield/Nashville in your soul!


—Mark Lush, Midwestbands.com


CD Baby Review: These Birds Can Hum! – Paul Erlandson, CD Baby Customer

From the opening guitar licks of Gonna Be Alright (best truck-driving song in 30 years!), there is no doubt where the heart of this album lies. I'll just call it "Kick-ass Country". The pace quickens and slows, but all the songs (stories of love sought, lost, or deferred) form a well-integrated and coherent whole. Can't Get You Off My Mind is pure old-school Country. Tables and Chairs is a drinking song in the vein of recent rockabilly artists Hotrod Lincoln. Feels Like Forever continues the Rockabilly sound. (Every young woman has tried to have this conversation with her mom at some point!) Let's see, they've covered truck driving, drinking and romance ... what's left? Time for a jail song, which the bluesy Cell Five provides nicely. Heaven Help Us is a kind of low-key, quasi-gospel tune, with great Hawaiian-style steel guitar backing. Sometimes on this album I hear echoes of John Prine or Gram Parsons or other forerunners of progressive country music ... but always The Hummingbirds manage to cover familiar musical and emotional territory without falling into cliche or losing the energy and the passion which rolls out from the voices and instruments throughout.

Hummingbirds making a rare appearance in GR – Delilah DeWylde

Detroit Music Award Winner Stephen Grant Wood has teamed up with one of Michigan’s finest female singer/songwriter’s, Rachel Lynn.

Together, they created The Hummingbirds in 2002 as an outlet for writing good ole country and folk songs, and are now performing at shows across the states, working hard to promote their raw American roots style of music.

Their songs tell timeless tales that take the listener back to simpler times while engaging them with lyrics that are both relatable and relevant in today’s modern world. Stephen and Rachel captivate their audience in vintage Johnny Cash style performing as an “electro-coustic” duo.

The Hummingbirds have combined award winning songwriting with telecaster twang, sweet sugar harmonies, and memorable melodies to create their 6 song EP entitled Depot Town which was released in the Spring of 2005. A full length CD will be available later this year.

The songs were written heavily influenced by country classics of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s along with some of the best influences in American Roots music today such as, Lucinda Williams, Wilco, Steve Earle, and many others.