Blink and you’ll miss Hillsburn, Nova Scotia, nestled alongside the Bay of Fundy. It’s a hidden gem of a place, well worth discovering. Much the same could be said of the group named in honour of this town where they first came together as a band – although that’s not as true as it might have once been. This is a group on the move!
Commitment might be the catch word of this five piece folk ensemble. After only a few sessions in the remote Nova Scotia town in 2014, working in songwriter Paul Aarntzen’s house, the original four members of Hillsburn committed entirely to the project. “Very rarely in your life do you experience something where you’re just completely with a sense that this is the thing that you need to be doing right now,” says Rosanna Burrill, one of the group’s singers said. We were just like, “Oh, this is a real thing.” Aarntzen sold his house and moved to Halifax to work on the band full time.
The rest seems to be figuring itself out quite well. The group released a self-titled EP in October of that year which led them to a top ten spot in CBC’s national Searchlight competition. Joined by percussionist Clare Macdonald, Hillsburn released a full length album, “In The Battle Years”, in March 2016 which won a Canadian Folk Music Award for New/Emerging Artist of the Year in December.
They continue to evolve and grow as a committed collective, weathering the inevitable changes and challenges. Their sound is moving from a string band to something more pop-influenced – and they’re releasing a new recording that reflects that evolution.