Sierra Hull has done it all — including this year’s Hillberry Oct. 4-8

Sierra Hull has done it all — including this year’s Hillberry Oct. 4-8

Sierra Hull is still trying to settle on the right name for her new album.

“I’ve actually been working on it for a while now,” the mandolin virtuoso says. “Then last year became so busy that even though I had started working on it, I wasn’t able to get it finished because I was touring so much. It’s been nice to have a little bit more time to actually finish it this year.”

Hull’s last album, “25 Trips,” dropped right before the pandemic. She was joined by a new band, but then didn’t really get to tour because of lockdown. Now that they’ve had some time to work together, Hull has also begun taking her band to the studio.

“A lot of this music was born out of writing it and [then] being able to play some of it live here and there,” she says, adding that she intentionally wrote material for playing live.

“To get to play these songs with them and develop something and then be able to also go in the studio with that same band is a much different thing than just hiring a bunch of musicians that are great.”

Almost as famous for her collaborations as her mandolin skills and smooth vocals, Hull made her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10. She played Carnegie Hall at age 12. The Tennessee-bred songstress released her first album, “Secrets,” in 2008, when she was just 16 years old. She followed that with “Daybreak” in 2011. Her album “Weighted Mind” in 2016 earned a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album and featured Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn and Rhiannon Giddens. The album was produced by Béla Fleck.

She reveals that her husband, multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses, who plays with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, will be on her forthcoming album along with Aoife O’Donovan, Tim O’Brien and Ronnie Bowman.

“So I do have some of like my favorite vocalists on there singing some harmony,” she says.

Her touring band turned studio band includes friends that she’s met through jam sessions and other musicians. On guitar, she has Shaun Richardson of the Nashville-based Americana duo, Dailey & Vincent. Also in the band is her fellow Berklee College of Music alum, Avery Merritt, on fiddle. Erik Coveney of The Arcadian Wild is on the bass. Mark Raudabaugh adds drums to the lineup, which Hull admits is an unusual combination for bluegrass.

“It kind of can either really work or not work,” she says.

“We’re constantly working on learning how to play together in a way because the mandolin is essentially the drums in the bluegrass band,” she admits, but it’s worth the challenge. “That’s been really fun. He’s a great player.”

Besides, Hull has been continually pushing boundaries in terms of genre.

“The music I’m playing isn’t exactly bluegrass, but I grew up with bluegrass as my foundation,” she says. The more she tours and plays with other musicians, she says, the more outside influences start to sink into her own compositions.

“One of the things that I think inevitably has been inspiring over the last couple years is the amount of collaborations I’ve been able to do,” she says. “There’s something kind of exciting when you’re in sort of a bit of a fresh lineup.”

She points to her recent touring partners, Fléck and funk guitarist Corey Wong, who played Hillberry in Eureka Springs last year.

“Inevitably you get inspired by just toggling between all these different worlds,” she adds.

She’s looking forward to some fun collaborations, jam sessions and a workshop at Hillberry. She performs from 5:10 to 6:40 p.m. Oct. 6.

“I think that’s part of the fun of festival culture — not only do you get to play your set and that’s fun … But it’s great to get to be a fan and a collaborator on festivals,” she says.

“When you get the chance to collaborate, that’s always the icing on the cake for me.”



Hillberry The Harvest Moon Festival

WHEN — Oct. 4-8

WHERE — The Farm, 1 Blue Heron Lane, Eureka Springs

COST — One-day passes start at $75 and then vary depending on the number of days. Tax and fees applied to all ticket prices. Kids 12 and younger are free. Camping by your car is included in the ticket price. (RV camping sold out.)


BONUS — A Berry Festival Passport for $335 includes full access to the Ozark Mountain Soul and Hillberry festivals.

Categories: Music