Inaugural Hello From the Hills Benefit Brings Songs, Stories and Surprises to Nashville’s City Winery [REVIEW + PHOTOS]
Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell were among the top singer-songwriters who took the stage for a special benefit concert at Nashville's City Winery on Saturday (Jan. 7).
The inaugural Hello From the Hills fundraiser featured a roster of incredible acts, including Sierra Ferrell, Arlo McKinley and William Matheny. But the night's true stars were the four charities that benefited from the union of Childers's Hope in the Hills foundation and Hello in There, a foundation begun by John Prine and continued by the Prine family after he passed away.
The event served as something like a Grand Ole Opry for Nashville misfits. From Childers and Isbell to Prine's talented son, Tommy, and Amythyst Kiah, the bill featured eleven artists that aren't regulars on mainstream country radio.
Buffalo Wabs and the Prince Hill Hustle kicked off the event and summed up the evening's theme more succinctly than anyone.
"No one in this room hasn't been impacted by addiction," band member Casey Campbell began the evening. "And if you don't think so, you need to talk more to your family."
Among the charities that benefited from the concert were Keith Dixon Foundation, which provides education and resources to help those struggling with substance abuse in Tennessee, and Recovery Community Inc, a transitional living facility in Nashville that offers safe and affordable housing for those with alcohol and drug dependency issues. Each of these non-profit organizations received a $10,000 donation from the event.
Although the impact and importance of the work done by the charities at the center of the event were a prominent focus of the night, it was also a joyful and collaborative display of some of today's best and brightest artists.
One of the highlights of the night's rapid-fire two-song sets included Kelsey Waldon joining Tre Burt for a version of his song "Dixie Red," marking one of the evening's few collaborations.
Margo Price, who will release her fourth studio album Strays this Friday (Jan. 13), made a surprise appearance Joined by her husband and fellow musical talent Jeremy Ivey. The pair performed her recent single "Lydia" and another cut from Strays, "Devil's in the Details." That track, she told the crowd, earned the stamp of approval from John Prine himself before his death in 2020.
Rather than sticking with what was billed as a 'solo and acoustic' set, Jason Isbell skipped out on the 'slow songs' and switched things up. Joined by his wife, the wildly talented multi-instrumentalist Amanda Shires, Isbell rolled into his Here We Rest cut "Tour of Duty."
Before beginning his second song, he quipped about the popularity of his 2013 single, "Cover Me Up."
"One of my favorite things here in Nashville is when I'll see a show at the Bluebird or something like that and people will say, 'This song's been very good to me,'" he told the crowd. "That's funny to me. Look, I've been good to this song. Without me, this song wouldn't have come along. Folks have covered it. I think AI has covered it by now."
The event closed with an intimate, acoustic seven-song set from Childers, an increasingly rare type of small-venue performance from the Kentucky native.
His vocal talents took the spotlight as he weaved through his catalog, kicking off with "Creeker" from his 2019 LP Country Squire before treating listeners to "Matthew" and "Lady May," along with "Shake the Frost," "Follow You to Virgie" and "Honky Tonk Flame."
His stirring version of Prine's "Killing the Blues" served as a fitting nod to the night's festivities, which came to a close with a rendition of his early classic, "Nose on the Grindstone."