me and martha
A brief bio of Me & Martha (a.k.a. Don DePoy & Martha Hills)
Mountain Music Makers… a family tradition since 1850s
In the beginning…
Don’s mother, Euva has American roots that run as deep as the West Virginia coal. In the 1750’s, her ancestors were pioneer settlers into what are now West Virginia’s Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties. Among her relatives were railroad men, singers, fiddlers and banjo players as well as a memorable aunt who sang and played piano and pump-organ. Euva moved from Renick, West Virginia to Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1947, where she met Don’s father, Carl DePoy. Carl’s family has been in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley region since the early 1700s and mountain music has been central to their lives for generations dating as far back as the 1830’s. Carl’s father along with his grandmother's uncle (Emory Stroop), and Don’s long-time musician friend (Herb Smoke) were all recorded in 1940 by Alan Lomax as he searched for America's identity. These recordings are in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
Don was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia and grew up playing music all over the eastern mountains of West Virginia and western mountains of Virginia in his father's band the Mountain Music Makers (1957-1961) and later as Carl & Don: The Skyline Pals (1961-1979). In the mid-1970’s and into the 1980’s at Gailax Fiddler's Convention, Don placed 3rd in the Guitar competition and placed in the top 10 for several years running in the old-time band competition playing with Chester Wilson (fiddle) and Will Keys (banjo) as the Willy Dillys. Some of the Willy Dillys’ songs are included in the Heritage Record recording series of the Gailax contests. Don has continued to play mountain music and in 2002 teamed up with his wife to begin performing as Me & Martha.
Martha Hills, originally from a farming community just outside of Belfast, Maine, also has a musical background steeped in the rich New England music heritage. Tracing Martha’s roots leads us back to Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Mayflower. 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, Martha’s roots include her great uncle Archie Gordon, a fine Maine fiddler who 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 starting playing the bass fiddle in 2001 and has joined Don playing all over the world.
…up to today…
Me & Martha was inducted into America’s Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Martha and Don moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia in 2007 where Don stepped right back in to the music of his youth. Being around his old friends and picking buddies it sometimes seems like he never left. Don is currently on faculty at James Madison University teaching sociology courses including the Social context of American music. He holds a Ph.D. in American Music and Popular Culture, and performs and conducts workshops all over the country as Me & Martha with his wife, Martha (www.meandmartha.com).
Martha is a certified MusikGarten teacher and conducts MusikGarten classes as part of Eastern Mennonite University's Preparatory Music Program for parents and infants to 7 year olds. Martha and Don encourage music making and promote the value of music wherever they go. Their association with the Young Audiences of Virginia (www.yav.org) is bringing mountain music into the public school curriculum all over Virginia. They teach private and group lessons as well as conduct music making "instructional slow-jams" for youth and adults to teach musicians how to play the basic "cannon" of mountain music, how to make music with others and how to play in jam sessions.
Don also teach bluegrass banjo at Eastern Mennonite University and was one of the judges for the 2008 Virginia Folk Music Association's bluegrass music contest. And with all this, for 2008 they played about 150 concerts and conducted special music programs for Church services.
Me & Martha are quite busy. They are working on a new CD and Songs to Lift the Spirit, a new gospel songbook with CD and chord notations has just been published. Songs to Lift the Spirit follows-up their already successful Music Makers Guide which has over 100 common songs from the bluegrass/old-time/folk tradition, a CD to help explain the music theory and the 6-common chord progressions which cover about 95% of all bluegrass/old-time/folk tunes. Of course there is only enough music theory to not mess up your playing.
Their website www.meandmartha.com has hundreds of photos, complete bio information, resumes, samples of our music, and detail narrative of our performances and workshops.”
To bring Me & Martha to your area contact us at:
266 Inglewood Court
McGaheysville, Virginia 22840
Me & Martha’s performance/workshop fees are based on a sliding scale. They have some limited grant money to help defray some costs and scholarship money for music instruction.
- Member for
- 9 years 26 weeks
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