Composer IN RESIDENCE

April 21 – May 5, 2023

Dillbilly

Dillbilly (pronouns: they/them) crafts songs laden with lyrics that investigate gender, queerness, class, privilege, and shame, taking a deep dive into the complexity and responsibility of being a white working-class queer from a red state. On Chaparral, the tenth studio recording from genre-queer songwriter Dillbilly, soulful countryfied rock, mournful resonant ballads, and Rust Belt bluegrass join hands and waltz around the bonfire. Winding tenderly through these introspective tales is an elegant voice that warbles like a jay, world-weary and vulnerable, yet glowing gently with a palpable inner strength. Featuring performances by a coterie of gifted artists, Chaparral is masterfully arranged and recorded; pristine, soft-edged, and utterly enchanting.

Raised in a rural trailer park near the Ohio River, Dillbilly grew up surrounded by cornfields and grain silos. More southern than midwestern, they were reared in the values of small-town life—but being queer in southern Indiana was not always easy. As soon as they finished high school, they went off to music school, embarking on a 20-year journey living in some of the most beautiful places. At 18, they won a piano scholarship that sent them to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Over the past two decades, they have been performing across North America, releasing 10 full-length albums and contributing to soundtracks for movies and TV. In 2015, they renamed their musical self to Dillbilly.

“Dillbilly is an homage to where I come from,” they explain. “It’s an honoring and an uncovering of the complexity in growing up queer and non-binary in the Bible Belt. On their latest release, Chaparral Dillbilly teamed up with producer Julie Wolf (Indigo Girls). This release features the likes of Vicki Randle (Mavis Staples), Todd Sickafoose (Anaïs Mitchell), Daren Hahn (Ani DiFranco), Allison Miller (Boom Tic Boom), James DePrato (Chuck Prophet), Kofy Brown (Skip the Needle), Jesse Strauss (the Bribes), and Rhonda Kinard (the Onyx). Throughout, the process has been guided by the steady hand of Briget Boyle of Waxsimile Productions.

Written primarily in Maine, Indiana, and California, Chaparral dives deep into explorations of grief, resilience, and regeneration. “My intersectional identities bring up a broad range of interrelated topics,” says Dillbilly. “White privilege, white fragility, class dynamics, poverty, substance use, harm reduction, gender, racism, heartbreak, and mental health all have many overlaps.”

To engage with deeply fraught topics head on is a crucial first step toward understanding and reconciliation. Chaparral brings the deep and troubling to the surface, and in doing so lets in the sunlight. “I hope folks feel held and inspired,” explains Dillbilly. “In this life there is room for joy, struggle, and hope. I hope folks see parts of themselves reflected and confronted, especially others like me. I hope this record is a balm for those who are hurting.” A lush, moody, joyful tapestry of songwriting, musicianship, and soundscape, Chaparral is evocative, vulnerable, and profoundly beautiful.

Artist Statement

Dillbilly (they/them/theirs) is a genre-queer songmaker, multi-instrumentalist, collaborator, community organizer, and performance artist. They have released 10 full length albums, five music videos, one movie soundtrack, and contributions to TV. They have been a featured artist at the National Queer Arts Festival, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance, and Zoo Labs Music Residency. Performing nationally for over 20 years, Dillbilly has collaborated with artists such as Julie Wolf (Indigo Girls), Vicki Randle (Mavis Staples), Todd Sickafoose (Ani Difranco), and Allison Miller (Boom Tic Boom). They are an Alumni of Berklee College of Music where they studied songwriting and music business but gained most of their artist experience outside the walls of any institution. In their most recent release, Chaparral, Dillbilly’s songs investigate gender, queerness, class, privilege, and shame, taking a deep dive into the complexity and responsibility of being a white working-class queer from a red state. In their spare time, they are a food justice organizer, educator, avid gardener, cook, and animal lover. To listen to Dillbilly’s work visit: http://www.dillbillymusic.com

< 2022 Residents