Jaime Hanna and Jonathan McEuen are first cousins and sons of identical twin sisters, Rae and Kae. Spending so much time together growing up and always living near each other lent itself to strengthening the bond between the two. In addition, their fathers are Jeff Hanna and John McEuen who have been playing music together for nearly 40 years as founding members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Jonathan McEuen first got his family's attention when they heard him singing along to a song on the radio at the age of 2. By the time he was 7, he was performing onstage at his Dad's annual Rocky Mountain Opry show at the famous Colorado venue, Red Rocks. He was soon acting in plays, which led to him landing the lead role in a high school production of The King and I, although he was still attending elementary school. By age 12, he was under contract with Disney to appear in The Mickey Mouse Club during the Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera era, but that fell through because he couldn't tap dance.
But he could play guitar, as evidenced by countless shows with his dad, which included bluegrass festivals and playing with the likes of mandolinist Sam Bush and fiddler Vassar Clements. At the same time, McEuen was frontman for a series of bands.
For Jaime Hanna, the path to guitar playing was a bit less direct. His earliest experiences were playing drums, but that all changed for him when he saw Steve Vai playing guitar in the movie Crossroads. After high school, Hanna relocated to Nashville, inspired by Dwight Yoakam's albums, particularly Yoakam's songs and Pete Anderson's guitar work.
This led to an interest in songwriting. It was around this time that Hanna met Raul Malo, lead singer of the Mavericks, who were just about to break through in country music. They ended up writing songs together, a factor that led to Hanna's first publishing deal. Eventually, he was hired by the band to provide harmony vocals, rhythm guitar and percussion.
While Hanna and McEuen were both out pursuing their individual musical paths, they would get together as often as they could make those paths cross. Late in 2001, the cousins each received a call from their dads. The 30th anniversary of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's release of Will the Circle Be Unbroken was to be marked by a third album in the series, Circle III. Their idea was to bring Jaime and Jonathan in to record "Lowlands" for the album.
The track led to a music video and appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and the Grand Ole Opry. They will release their debut album on MCA Nashville in 2005.