Despite the difference in cultures and musical styles, Hill found a kinship with Douhushau and the other players.
“We had nine or 10 musicians in a room,” Hill said. “Five were Appalachian and four or five Slavs showed up from out of the woodwork around Athens. There were Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians and we ended up having a jam where we fused our music. It was amazing.
“Siarhei sang these Belarusian songs and we played banjos and did these droning gospel harmonies over them,” Hill continued. “We played these Appalachian murder ballads and he played flute and did these Slavic wails. We found this really energetic core that attached the origin of both of these cultures.”
Slavalachia toured in Central Europe for the first time in January 2020 but the pandemic soon stifled international travel. During the shutdowns, work intensified on the documentary, which was filmed in Belarus, Ukraine and the United States.
The members of Slavalachia were able to reconvene in the Ukraine for four weeks in late August and early September. The group performed live and wrote and recorded songs for its debut album, which is slated for release in 2022.
“It’s been an amazing collaboration,” Hill said. “We called it Folk Alliance because we’re not trying to appropriate each other’s traditions. We’re really trying to bolster each other’s traditions. We want to spread them to new environments and then broaden the horizons of the work we do with our folk music.
“To be able to work with these talented musicians has been a life changing musical experience,” Hill added. “It has been nothing short of an awakening and I really feel like we’re just getting started.”
More info: slavalachia.com.
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