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The Hills and the Rivers - Busking DIY Folk Extraordinaires
Written by:
Emily Plazek

“Just keep going, do what you know you have to do deep inside, even if it's tough.” 

-- Isaac Hill, The Hills and the Rivers

Last week we ordered Mad Mex on Grubhub. Kellee leaned out the studio window to thank the delivery guy, and he did a double take to the credit card that our recording engineer Waiss had delivered, to the girl leaning out the 3rd story window. “You’re the rapper Kellee Maize? I saw you perform with The Hills and the Rivers! I love them!” Turns out he was an accordion player himself, and that is incredibly in the spirit of this post-apocalyptic DIY folk family band that was one of the first to join the MIC PGH Publishing catalogue -- so they're one of the first MIC MVMT members ever! (DIY! Indie!) 

Welcome to The Hills and the Rivers! 

This weekend they’re performing at the Some Kind of Jam 12 music festival outside of Reading, PA -- so if you’ve been itching for a summer music festival, jump in the car this weekend and enjoy yourself! Click here for the event page.

They’ve released 2 independent albums and are members of the 4th River Music Collective along with Cousin Boneless (who they busk and tour with often), and everybody in the band’s solo projects, as well as other friends’ projects. They busk on the strip district a lot, have a 4th River evening at Spirit every 1st and 3rd Tuesday for Happy Hour, and are putting on the 3rd annual 4th River Music fest this June 16-18 in Hazelwood.


The Hills and the Rivers are an incredible example of incorporating busking into your career. What’s busking, you ask? It’s street performance -- a great music-related revenue-generation option, found in the IMBM’s Level 1 Money (left side). If you don’t believe me, you can read about how one current indie music success over in LA, Claire Means, doubled her income busking and using periscope.

(On a quick Emily-MIC note: these types of music spirits put me in personal awe. The raw intrinsic need to perform and share your music with people? Combined with band collaboration, pretty freaking pure joy, and fan-communication/appreciate in order to generate an income? That’s indie music success in MIC’s book.)


Since the Sanctuary is all about sharing indie music success stories, Isaac Hill gave us some behind-the-scenes about the band. Here’s what he had to share about The Hills and the Rivers!

Quick little intro about yourselves, and your origin story?

We started when Isaac and Heidi Hill, who are siblings, recruited some busker friends to record an album of Isaac's songs. We started busking and playing shows as a group, with different musicians flowing in and out. We now have a steady core group, but still have a somewhat shifting lineup, and have brought two other Hill siblings, Ian and Colin into the band. So that's why we're called The Hills and the Rivers, besides just the many hills and rivers defining the landscape of Pittsburgh.

What do you love most about being an indie band?

I love touring the country and seeing, hearing and being inspired by all the diy/indie music scenes, and experiencing the natural beauty that inhabits each different bioregion.

What are some of your struggles as an indie band?

Feeling like there's such a long way to go, making enough money, navigating all the different personalities in the band.

Any advice for up-and-coming indie bands who admire and want to be like you?

Just keep going, do what you know you have to do deep inside, even if it's tough.

Favorite restaurants/bars in PGH?

Several members work at the Double Wide in Southside, so that's the favorite restaurant.  We don't actually go out to many bars, but we like playing Howlers, Cattivo and Spirit. We also love the plateau at Bandi Shaum.

Craziest/funniest tour story?

The hot springs in New Mexico, the black sands beach in Humboldt County, busking in New Orleans, driving through the mountains at night in a blizzard to get home from Asheville.

You can follow The Hills and the Rivers on Facebook to go to one of their summer shows here in town, but wouldn’t it also rock to hit up the Some Kind of Jam 12 festival, and blast their Spotify on the drive down this weekend?

They’re currently in the middle of filming their next music video, so in the meantime follow the sensuous wolf spirit to the party in the woods in Folk Steady, here:

 
The Hills and the Rivers - Busking DIY Folk Extraordinaires
The Hills and the Rivers - Busking DIY Folk Extraordinaires
MIC is my baby.

“Just keep going, do what you know you have to do deep inside, even if it's tough.” 

-- Isaac Hill, The Hills and the Rivers

Last week we ordered Mad Mex on Grubhub. Kellee leaned out the studio window to thank the delivery guy, and he did a double take to the credit card that our recording engineer Waiss had delivered, to the girl leaning out the 3rd story window. “You’re the rapper Kellee Maize? I saw you perform with The Hills and the Rivers! I love them!” Turns out he was an accordion player himself, and that is incredibly in the spirit of this post-apocalyptic DIY folk family band that was one of the first to join the MIC PGH Publishing catalogue -- so they're one of the first MIC MVMT members ever! (DIY! Indie!) 

Welcome to The Hills and the Rivers! 

This weekend they’re performing at the Some Kind of Jam 12 music festival outside of Reading, PA -- so if you’ve been itching for a summer music festival, jump in the car this weekend and enjoy yourself! Click here for the event page.

They’ve released 2 independent albums and are members of the 4th River Music Collective along with Cousin Boneless (who they busk and tour with often), and everybody in the band’s solo projects, as well as other friends’ projects. They busk on the strip district a lot, have a 4th River evening at Spirit every 1st and 3rd Tuesday for Happy Hour, and are putting on the 3rd annual 4th River Music fest this June 16-18 in Hazelwood.


The Hills and the Rivers are an incredible example of incorporating busking into your career. What’s busking, you ask? It’s street performance -- a great music-related revenue-generation option, found in the IMBM’s Level 1 Money (left side). If you don’t believe me, you can read about how one current indie music success over in LA, Claire Means, doubled her income busking and using periscope.

(On a quick Emily-MIC note: these types of music spirits put me in personal awe. The raw intrinsic need to perform and share your music with people? Combined with band collaboration, pretty freaking pure joy, and fan-communication/appreciate in order to generate an income? That’s indie music success in MIC’s book.)


Since the Sanctuary is all about sharing indie music success stories, Isaac Hill gave us some behind-the-scenes about the band. Here’s what he had to share about The Hills and the Rivers!

Quick little intro about yourselves, and your origin story?

We started when Isaac and Heidi Hill, who are siblings, recruited some busker friends to record an album of Isaac's songs. We started busking and playing shows as a group, with different musicians flowing in and out. We now have a steady core group, but still have a somewhat shifting lineup, and have brought two other Hill siblings, Ian and Colin into the band. So that's why we're called The Hills and the Rivers, besides just the many hills and rivers defining the landscape of Pittsburgh.

What do you love most about being an indie band?

I love touring the country and seeing, hearing and being inspired by all the diy/indie music scenes, and experiencing the natural beauty that inhabits each different bioregion.

What are some of your struggles as an indie band?

Feeling like there's such a long way to go, making enough money, navigating all the different personalities in the band.

Any advice for up-and-coming indie bands who admire and want to be like you?

Just keep going, do what you know you have to do deep inside, even if it's tough.

Favorite restaurants/bars in PGH?

Several members work at the Double Wide in Southside, so that's the favorite restaurant.  We don't actually go out to many bars, but we like playing Howlers, Cattivo and Spirit. We also love the plateau at Bandi Shaum.

Craziest/funniest tour story?

The hot springs in New Mexico, the black sands beach in Humboldt County, busking in New Orleans, driving through the mountains at night in a blizzard to get home from Asheville.

You can follow The Hills and the Rivers on Facebook to go to one of their summer shows here in town, but wouldn’t it also rock to hit up the Some Kind of Jam 12 festival, and blast their Spotify on the drive down this weekend?

They’re currently in the middle of filming their next music video, so in the meantime follow the sensuous wolf spirit to the party in the woods in Folk Steady, here:

 

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