Matt Hill and his band are on their way

Folk artist Matt Hill isn't showing any signs of slowing down since he began songwriting last year. The rhythm guitarist teamed up with cellist Hillary Brownell and upright bassist Tom Brownell to win South Stage Cellars' and Britt Festivals' Rising Stars music competition last weekend.

Hill and his full band — with Joe Ginet of State of Jefferson and drummer Josh Kimzey — will open a show for Nashville bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at the Rogue Theatre in Grants Pass.

For winning the Rising Stars competition, Hill and the band will get to open a mainstage show tentatively set for June at Britt Festivals.

They'll also play in August at the Oregon Hemp Festival in Takilma, on Aug. 6 at Concerts in the Park in Grants Pass and Sept. 5 at Red Lily Vineyards in Jacksonville.

The feedback has been so good since the band won the Rising Stars semifinal that it built a website just a few days after,

"Everything has just hit all at once," Hill says. "It's been fantastic."

Hill, who works days as a dentist, picked up his guitar again just last year.

"I played in coffee shops for a summer after I got out of college," he says. "I wrote songs about love, loss and relationships."

When word got around Grants Pass that he was a songwriter, Hill was invited to perform at a benefit show at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center for high school student C.J. Cezerson. And Dutch Bros. CEO Travis Boersma, who is a friend of Hill's, invited him to play at a corporate show at Sunriver Resort in Bend.

"So I had these gigs, but I didn't have a band," Hill says. "I bumped into Hillary and Tom ... they were patients of mine ... and started talking music. It was just magic. We hooked up immediately, and we just knew we had something. Later we asked Josh to join us as drummer."

Hill, who plays an acoustic, six-string Martin and plays harmonica, writes all of the band's songs and lyrics. He and the band collaborate on the arrangements.

"It's kind of ballad-based jam music," Hill says. "We like to pass the mic around a bit for our songs' solos. So our music has that Dave Matthews style to it, that contemporary jam band feel. It's kind of edgy. That's why Joe's work on electric and steel guitar and mandolin is such a good fit."

Hill's songwriting has evolved quickly, as well.

"Lately my songs are about the human condition," he says. "I have a song about women's rights, 'Kea's Song,' and songs about living life to its fullest. As a band, we like to connect with the audience."

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