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“Like a passer-by on a summer drive through the country, I have had the privilege of monitoring the Tillers’ own growth throughout the years. Coming in with fresh eyes to each gig, I have enjoyed the fruits of the rapid advancement of their musical garden of delights. Don’t get me wrong, Mike Oberst and Sean Geil’s talent were present from the beginning. But with the cultivation of endless (and no doubt thankless) tours and pub dates, these two “brothers in melody” were suddenly tapping into progressively deeper and darker tillage. Put plainly: they just kept getting better and better.
Like no other group I’ve ever heard, the Tillers are able to break your heart with an intangible, timeless pain. Combined they harmonize like the Celestial Monochorde of old, awakening once again the ancient muses to strum the heartstrings of man. Apart, they voice a pained, hoarse timbre that hearkens to their own personal losses…losses we all sweetly suffer vicariously through their melody.
The metaphor of gardening and growth is not lost on those who hear The Tillers. The arabesque spread of their burgeoning tones resemble the health of summer plantlife, spring rains and abundance. It comes as no surprise that singer/banjoist Mike Oberst is himself a farmer (there is something to be said for real life, agrarian experience and its natural bi-product of folk music.)
Knuckled roots weaving through the Appalachian coffins of old souls buried in veins of coal…The Earth and Her cycles of life and death is the running theme here. But isn’t it the ultimate theme? Whether the modern ear is turned deaf to these truths or not, we all must heed the holler that the Tillers intone.
Nose to the ground, hand on the plow, hard work and harmonies. Take it from an old fan, if you are reading this now, you are the lucky one. For this is fertile ground indeed.”
-Col. J.D. Wilkes, th’ legendary shack shakers, the dirt daubers
“Leave behind the world of nagging priority that is screaming at your for attention through various flashing doo dads streaming threads of bad news and worse entertainment choices, and go back to a time when people played songs on their back porches from the simple love of the music, and the only way to evoke entertainment was to breed fellowship with friends and family and sing and play along. This is the warm and relaxing, yet still energetic and engaging reality that The Tillers conjure up when they strike wires on wood and bring their love for the way things were to the modern ear yearning for a time when less was more.”
-Saving Country Music
read the whole review here
“I highly recommend this album to fans of thought provoking folk rock, old time string-bands and rootsy alt country. You will not go wrong by purchasing this album and you’ll hear an established band with their musical plow deep within the soil of their forefathers reaping and reviving not only the rich history of their surroundings but planting seeds in the listener’s heart and brain…the hand is firmly on the plow indeed. The Tillers do not disappoint.”
-Mathew DeRiso, No Depression Magazine
read the whole review here
“Through non-stop touring, The Tillers have made quite a name for themselves with their “must see” live show but with their new album, Hand On The Plow, the spotlight should now rest on their great songwriting and give them the wide-spread recognition they deserve.”
-Atlas and the Anchor
read the whole review here
“In their lives, and in their music, all three band members embrace a return to simplicity, a longing for freedom, and hope for the future. It is fitting then that these American Characters would devote a song to Highway 50, a road that, like the country it traverses, has seen its share of hardship and history and still keeps pressing forward.”
-Tom Brokaw American Character Along Highway 50
“The Tillers.. I could sit and listen to them all night long!”
“From the first claw hammer banjo plucks & fiddle licks courtesy of the hands & fingers of Mike Oberst on his tune, “Cardinal Train,” this album displays an already tight unit (you should see them live ASAP, and you‘ll know exactly what I mean) growing by leaps and bounds before our very eyes as songsmiths of the timeless variety.”
-M. Ayers, Boil It First Magazine
“For these three, it’s not about scoring the prettiest stage. It’s about conjuring up lost songs, keeping them alive. It’s about tackling classics, putting a progressive spin on old-time music. Embracing the past, this formerly Punk-ish trio combines forces to rekindle the spirits and sounds of the Depression Era.”
-C.A. Macconnell, CityBeat Magazine
“Once the picking starts, it’s nearly impossible to keep from stomping your feet and clapping your hands. It’s clear to see by the crowds that continue to come to every show, that The Tillers are a staple in the local music scene today.” Patrick Riley, bearcastradio.com
“The Tillers went from Punk howlers to Folk buskers to scene heroes to CEA winners in an impossibly short time frame; it’s like they erupted from a hillbilly Zeus’ head fully formed. Their first album, Ludlow Street Rag, showed which artists they loved; their next one, the exquisite By the Signs, showed who and what they had become. The Tillers are troubadours who sing about love and the road and despair and triumph and life and death and beauty and the mountain. Big emotions and small observations sung at rafter-rattling Saturday night volume and with church-whispering Sunday morning reverence. The Tillers are a marvel, every show, every song, every note. Get wet, you will believe.”
Brian Baker, CityBeat
“Many fell in love with these guys when they played here opening for Casey Dreissen. Musically, the band wears many hats. Their new album moves through originals in the vein of Delta-style blues, ‘30s-style jazz, and mountain gospel in addition to their signature style of old-time folk. Their sound has proven to be an appropriate fit with a wide range of musical styles- traditional folk, bluegrass, jazz, punk rock and anything else they might run into.” Kitty Welch, Cafe Carpe – Ft. Atkins, WI
….and even more!…
The Tillers in THE NATION by Geoffry Dobbins
The Tillers release “By The Signs” in CITYBEAT MAGAZINE
The Tillers on DOWN HOME RADIO SHOW NYC 2009
The Tillers on DOWN HOME RADIO SHOW NYC 2010
The Tillers, Liscence to Till, CITYBEAT MAGAZINE