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The Deep Hollow Makes Gorgeous Folk Music


The Deep Hollow co-founder Micah Walk immediately knew “Devil” was a good song.

“Liz and I started writing songs together before Dave came along” said Walk, referring to fellow group members Liz Eckert and Dave Littrell.  “That was one of the first three or four songs we wrote, and I thought ‘this is coming along pretty well.’”

“Pretty well” was an understatement.  After Littrell came along and added some flourishes, the trio submitted "Devil" to American Songwriter Magazine's 30th Anniversary Song Contest in 2013.  To their astonishment, it won the Americana category and the overall Grand Prize.  So before the emerging folk trio had even produced an album, affirmation was urging them on.

Walk and Eckert originally intended The Deep Hollow to be a duo side project.

“We had sung in some other groups together” said Walk.  “We had some similar influences and tastes so she said ‘maybe we should try writing some songs together.’  I don’t know if we thought it would turn into a group we put a whole lot of focus into.”   

And like the immediate recognition that “Devil” was a good song, the chemistry among the three was palpable when Littrell sat in on a gig early on.

“He had a bunch of songs that worked with the vibe pretty well” said Walk. “So it was kind of like ‘instant trio’ and we were like ‘this is how we have to be all the time.’”

The Deep Hollow put their $1500 grand prize money from the songwriting contest toward producing their eponymous debut album. The gorgeous 12 song set released in the Spring of 2016 showcases the group’s three part harmonies and sharp songwriting.  Walk said the writing tends to be collaborative, with the three frequently sharing ideas via smartphone.  And like many a songwriter, he said scratching out a tune can be both pleasurable and painful, though his favorites turn out to be ones that "just fall out of nowhere."

“I read an interview recently with Elvis Costello.  He writes songs these days in pretty much the amount of time it takes to perform a song.  So he’s sitting at a piano writing a song in four to five minutes” said Walk.

Walk brought up “Fires” as an example. He said “it almost feels as if it’s coming from somewhere else.  Those are the ones that I enjoy.”  

The three group member still have side projects.  Littrell still fronts the progressive rock outfit "The Station," Walk's "Micah Walk Band" has mostly been in hibernation since The Deep Hollow has emerged, and all three play in a cover band.  But Walk said his involvement with The Deep Hollow now has his full attention.

"I really enjoy the focus on three part harmony" said Walk.  "When we have songs we bring to the table, the first focus is adding harmony parts.  That's what we're doing with this group and I enjoy it. A lot."

The Deep Hollow plays the C-U Folk & Roots Festival in Urbana November 4, and is next up at the Duncan Manor songwriter series in Towanda IL November 5 at 7:00 p.m.   

Jon Norton is the audio director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.