The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Touring Stafford Teens Sing the Blues

3 min read

By Alex Culbreth

When one thinks of the blues, being barreled out of tiny nightclubs or shouted from the streets for spare change, cities such as New Orleans and Memphis usually come to mind.
Stafford, Virginia is certainly not the home to any style of blues or to any famous blues musicians, but it is the hometown of twin13-year-old brothers who play the blues better than most musicians well into their 40’s.
At their young age, they’ve already played concerts in New York City, Washington D.C., Maryland, North Carolina and throughout Virginia.
They’ve also opened up for Jimmy Wayne, a touring country singer, and played guitar at concerts with Ellis Paul, a prominent folksinger from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Jeff and Brian Brown-Hill have both been playing guitar for five years.
Their mother, Barbara Brown-Hill explained, “From the time they were two, they were interested in music.  Each year they would ask for a guitar for Christmas.”
Finally, at the age of seven, their parents consented and bought them both electric guitars.
Brian and Jeff have both faithfully been taking music lessons ever since.  They have been playing shows in and out of state over the past three years.
Their repertoire is surprisingly diverse and does not stop with the blues.
“We also play folk, rock and country,” Brian says.  At their shows, they cover such artists as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
How did these two young musicians become aware of artists who were making records nearly forty years before they were born?
“We listened to a lot of our dad’s records growing up,” Jeff said, “one of his Stevie Ray Vaughn CD’s gave us the idea of what we wanted to do with the guitar.”
It may sound hard to believe that these two 13-year-old boys can casually discuss Eric Clapton records and play Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” on electric guitar without breaking a sweat, but it’s true.
Their mother Barbara explains where all their talent originated from.
“It’s driven by them.  They were passionate about seeing live music before they ever started playing,” she said. “I’ve always allowed them to pursue what they were passionate about.  I can’t imagine not allowing them to do what they love.”
Jeff and Brian are both home-schooled by their mother.
Barbara points out the connection between their music and their education: “Researching musicians and music is tied into the home-schooling.
Our philosophy is that ‘school is life, and life is school.’  They’ve learned so much from playing music and from playing concerts.  The music, travel, and the people they’ve met have enriched their lives.”
Jeff and Brian talked about what music means to them and what they hope to do with their music in the future.
“I never liked sports or anything too competitive,” Jeff said. “When I’m sad about something, or mad at someone, I just play music.”
Brian explains what he hopes to accomplish with music in his lifetime:
“I hope to play concerts out West, record albums, tour and maybe meet Neil Young.”
With the help and support of their mother, they have both accomplished a tremendous amount by such a tender age.  Their mother, Barbara, sums up her sons’ passion for music and performing:
“It’s something they’ve always wanted to do, but I had no idea where it would take them.”