Brother Hill's short film "Little Sadie." Brother Hill will play Casa Nueva on Saturday, February 20 with Lindsay Jordan and have both a forthcoming EP and full-length release planned for later in 2020.

Brother Hill Explores a ‘Living Folk Tradition’

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Brett Hill is seemingly indefatigable.

The constantly animated front man and founder of raucous Appalachian folk band Brother Hill has just returned from an Eastern European musical journey with his bandmate Benjamin Stewart when the band somehow makes time for a four-song performance and interview at WOUB between their numerous regional gigs and forthcoming musical releases.

Stewart, Kyle “Knuckles” Lyons, and George Joseph van Fossen are the “Hill Spirits” that conjure up a dynamic sense of vigorous aural locomotion in WOUB’s Radio A early in the afternoon on a rainy day in mid-February. They perform two originals, “Steepletown” and “Red Rider,” an “altered” take on Appalachian traditional song they call “South Ohio Boys,” and one Ukrainian song, “Oy u Hayu.”

“We love to rage to some music – I love songs that make me wanna move — or drive my car really fast or go brawl or go shout in the street. We just like music that is ready to roll,” said Hill when asked how the band determines what traditional songs they want to work with. “Finding some of these old songs and digging them up — it’s ‘like listen to that rhythm! How much more could we accentuate that rhythm in a somewhat modern context?’ (…) You just keep tossing on these elements and everyone is really putting a fresh breath into this song that was written like 150 years ago by a bunch of dudes that were like ‘Yeah! This is rockin!’ It’s like: ‘How do we make it even more rockin’ in 2020?”

Listen to those rockin’ tunes, recorded by WOUB’s Adam Rich, embedded above.

Brother Hill also spoke with WOUB’s Emily Votaw about Slavalachia, a wide-ranging musical project concerning folk music traditions and identities from Appalachia, Belarus, and Ukraine orchestrated largely by CreateCulture (the non-profit also responsible for the Armory Park that opened in Athens last summer,) the band’s two forthcoming releases, and performing at Casa Nueva (6 West State Street, Athens) on Saturday, February 20 with Lindsay Jordan. You can hear that embedded above as well.

Find out more about Slavalachia on their Facebook page, as well as Brother Hill’s collaborators in the project: the Belarusian Siarhei Douhushau & Vuraj and Ukrainian Marichka Chichkova & Torban on their individual websites.