Our unfolding journey as music makers, an unfinished story...
Don DePoy and Martha Hills are flame keepers of ‘real’ authentic music making. They are national treasures of America’s Mountain Music, which includes bluegrass, old-time, folk, rural swing, and classic country. Steeped in the tradition of improvised art and performing as Me & Martha, they create a space where everyone can experience musical art as unfolding stories that comfort and entertain. From concert halls to street busking, they captivate audiences with spontaneous and often amusing banter, backed up by amazing vocal and instrument virtuosity.
For more than five decades, Don has made it his mission to promoted local musicians through concerts, festivals, recordings, museum exhibits and television programs. Joining Don in 2000 Martha has strengthened their commitment to the music community. They are members of America’s Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame and are on the traditional artist rosters of Young Audiences of Virginia and Virginia Commission for the Arts.
(2021 Short Bio edited from facts and external reviews)
Martha and Don first met in Belfast, Maine in 2000 and started performing together in 2003 and they have been playing ever since. For the past five years they've played an average of 250 shows a year. Their music draws on the rich wellspring of Shenandoah Valley music. Many of Me & Martha’s signature songs and original creations explore the universal themes of everyday life in rural America. Their presentation includes a bit of history and original stories. They play an assortment of acoustic mountain music instruments including the fiddle, 5-string banjo, guitar, mountain dulcimer, autoharp, Dobro (resophonic) guitar, bass fiddle, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, limber-jack and Jew’s harp. Every performance combines music with educational opportunities. The audience is often encouraged to sing-along and takes an active role in the musical journey. Together Me & Martha have a “presence” that instantly makes everyone feel at ease and welcome.
Me & Martha are members of America’s Old time Country Music Hall of Fame and are on the artist rosters of the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Young Audiences of Virginia. Additionally, Martha and Don are both seasoned educators and classroom teachers. In 2003 they began hosting a bluegrass jam at Waterfalls Arts Center in Belfast Maine and continued until moving to Virginia. There they immediately starting hosting a weekly public bluegrass jam. As of 2018 they still host weekly jams and conduct workshop teach musicians how to "play well with others". There most recent endeavor has them organizing @WestView, a Community Place located in the Old Country Church in the historic village of West View in Swoope, Virginia
About Dr. Donald DePoy
In 1940, Alan Lomax recorded Don’s family and friends as part of his collection for the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song. The Lomax Collection contains pioneering documentation of traditional music, dance, tales, and other forms of grassroots creativity in the United States and abroad. Don's family were among the early settlers and musicians into the Shenandoah Valley during the early 1700s. Keeping in this tradition, as a mountain music maker, Don is a master traditional guitar and 5-string banjo player. According to Steve Mandell, Grammy award winning musician (Dueling Banjos), “Don’s thumb-picking style guitar playing is the best I have ever heard. He can pick complicated lead as well as keep the driving rhythm necessary in traditional Appalachian string-band music. Following the unique banjo style of the Shenandoah Valley, Don plays the distinct melody line in and around the right-hand roll patterns. He takes an all-encompassing approach to his music and has been steadily forging a strong reputation in music both locally and abroad.” In addition to banjo and guitar, he is an accomplished mountain dulcimer, autoharp, Dobro, mandolin and bass fiddle player. He started playing music in his father’s band the Mountain Music Makers in 1957 at the age of eight. In 1971, Don started Skyline Records. Skyline Records’ artist roster included: Madeline MacNeil (folk singer, mountain dulcimer), Ralph Lee Smith (mountain dulcimer historian and scholar), Trapezoid with Sam Rizzetta and Paul Reisler (hammer dulcimer), Herb Smoke (fiddle and banjo), and reissued the 1964 recording of Carl & Don, The Skyline Pals.
Don holds a Master’s degree in Education and a Doctorate specializing in American music and popular culture. His dissertation’s external committee member was Dr. Alan Jabbour, the founding director of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. Working with Alan, Don has collected several songs and artifacts that are now part of the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress. Don currently teaches bluegrass instruments at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, writes on the subject of Appalachian music, promotes economic development and tourism with state and local organizations and private lessons on-line and in person.
In some circles he's now called Dr. Bluegrass
About Ms. Martha Hills
Martha Hills is originally from a farming community along the coast of Maine just outside of Belfast. She has a musical background steeped in the rich New England music tradition. Tracing Martha’s roots leads us back to Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Mayflower in 1620. Her ancestors were some of the first English settlers to the coastal regions of what is now Maine. Settling in the area around Friendship, Maine, where her great uncle Archie Gordon played and handcrafted over a hundred violins. Martha also has a host of relatives who sing and play piano in the New England style. She fell in love with bluegrass music in the 1980s and started playing the bass fiddle in 2001 and has joined Don playing all over the world.
Martha is an early childhood educator and teaches private and group lessons to young children. She is the Me & Martha contact for booking and serves as the Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Shenandoah Music Trail. Martha fronts the Me & Martha duo and her quick smile and her on-stage banter with Don entertain and delight audiences of every age. Her bass playing compliments their musical journey and provides a solid beat for instrumental excursions. From traditional music, blues, jazz, bluegrass, classical and original arrangements she wants everyone to have fun at their concerts. She has taught ukulele workshops with up to 25 children as young as four learning to play songs on stage in a half an hour. Martha promotes hands on instruction and sharing live music as a family activity. Keeping with the tradition of playing by ear music lessons become as natural as learning to dance.
She majored in early childhood education at the University of Maine, has both private and public school pre-k-5 classroom teaching experience. She teaches workshops and private music lessons to the youngest children starting at 6mos. As a certified MusikGarten teacher she has taught in the Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music Program at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
There is a Link to Our Old Web Site - (NOTE:Old website not supported Email links may not work)