Storyhill is a folk duo that brings infectious melodies, smart story songs and heartbreaking harmonies together in one perfect package. Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson grew up and started performing together as teenagers, while living in Bozeman, Montana. Both were musical from the get-go, singing with choirs, playing in bands and mastering many musical instruments—piano, guitar, trumpet, violin, harmonica, bass and accordion. Although their 7th grade world geography class is what ostensibly brought them together, it was their musical passions that made them close friends and lifelong musical collaborators.
They recorded their first tape as Chris and Johnny in 1989, upon graduating from high school. Although they then temporarily parted ways—Chris going to Spain and John to Minnesota for college—they continued to play music. Chris, who had previously played piano with John, took up the guitar and focused on his songwriting, soaking up the Spanish culture. Meanwhile, John was making a name for himself on the campus of St. Olaf College, where he was pursuing a music degree for violin performance. He got regular gigs in town, performing his own original material. He encountered such success selling his and Chris’ first album that he encouraged Chris to come out and join him so they could play together. Chris did, and together they developed a strong fan following on campus and in the nearby Twin Cities as an acoustic songwriting duo. After graduating in 1993, they toured the country, playing the college circuit. For three years they toured constantly and recorded several self-released albums, selling an impressive number at their shows. Exhausted from the travel and finding themselves pulled in different directions, Chris and John, or Storyhill as they were now known, embarked on a series of farewell concerts (much to fans’ dismay). Chris moved west to Seattle for a year, then returned to settle back in Bozeman where he continued to play his own songs, fronted and recorded with a small acoustic band (Sixth Sense) and shared tours with Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Justin Roth (resulting in a live recording—2 forms of ID). John, on the other hand, went east, moving to Norway for a year. There he wrote material that would result in his first solo album, recorded when he returned to Minneapolis. He began performing solo and with his band Alva Star.
Meanwhile, Storyhill fans continued to clamor for more, so Chris and John played a few sold-out reunion shows in Minnesota and Montana. Discovering the old chemistry was still there along with some new creative energy, they reformed Storyhill and fully committed themselves to touring and recording as a duo. They enlisted the help of rock/pop songwriter and Grammy winner Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Dixie Chicks, Trip Shakespeare) to produce Storyhill’s next album, their first to be released on independent roots label Red House Records. The album, simply named Storyhill, was a return to the basics that have made the duo so popular—strong melodic songs. Released in 2007, it received rave reviews and was selected as the Best CD of the Year by the Indie Acoustic Project. It also led them to win the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Contest and perform on national radio shows like Mountain Stage.
Now, with the release of their new album Shade of the Trees, Storyhill confirms that they are one of the most important songwriting duos today. Mixing old-fashioned storytelling with hauntingly spare acoustic arrangements, they sing about love, war and the many sorrows that accompany them.
In support of the new CD, Storyhill is now touring across the country. They will also host two songwriter festivals in Montana and Minnesota--Storyhill Fest and Storyhill Fest Midwest. Both events draw fans from across the country for weekends of live music in scenic outdoor settings. Featuring some of their favorite artists that they have met in their travels, they have brought in such artists as Antje Duvekot, Danny Schmidt, and Anais Mitchell.
In addition to their work with the duo, Chris and John continue their separate pursuits in Montana and Minnesota. Chris produces recordings at Basecamp Recording, a studio he built just outside of Bozeman. John works as a producer in Minneapolis and continues to play with Alva Star.
Chris Cunningham - acoustic guitar, vocals
John Hermanson - acoustic guitar, vocals
"Shade of the Trees" (Red House Records, release date: 4/20/10)
"Storyhill" (Red House Records, release date: 2/13/07)
"Duotones: a Tribute to Duo's of the 1970's" (2005)
"Reunion" Double Live CD (2001)
"Storyhill Live" (1997)
"This Side of Lost" (1996)
Better Angels (2010)
Well of Sorrow (2010)
Town Talks (2010)
Give Up The Ghost (2007)
Paradise Lost (2007)
Ballad Of Joe Snowboard (2007)
Love Will Find You (2007)
Background For Your Blue (2005)
Steady On (LIVE 2001)
What Was Wrong
STORYHILL Shade of the Trees (Red House) 2010
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THIS excellent American folk-pop duo do wonders with a couple of acoustic guitars and their intensel...THIS excellent American folk-pop duo do wonders with a couple of acoustic guitars and their intensely pure harmonies, calling to mind such timeless acts as Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers, and in their country flavours, the Byrds and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
The pair telling all these stories is Chris Cunningham and John Hormanson, who have apparently known each other since their junior high days in Bozeman, Mont. Today they are based in Minneapolis, and this is their second album for that city's independent folk label Red House, which represents, among others, Winnipeg's Wailin' Jennys.
Like the Jennys, Storyhill gives off a white, middle-class northern vibe. The 10 songs here, produced by Dixie Chicks' helmsman Dan Wilson, are stripped clean and simple, which lets the pristine vocal and melodies work their magic. Impressive stuff indeed. 4 stars
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“Storyhill has garnered strong support on the college and coffeehouse circuit. Their sound recalls t...“Storyhill has garnered strong support on the college and coffeehouse circuit. Their sound recalls the harmonious interplay of Simon and Garfunkel and the acoustic juice of the Indigo Girls” (Billboard Magazine).
Minnesota Monthly, February 2007
“Storyhill puts the ‘sing’ back in singer-songwriter.”
Quote from Swallow Hill Music Association, Denver, CO
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"Storyhill has become a veritable legend in their own time around here at Swallow Hill. Besides bein..."Storyhill has become a veritable legend in their own time around here at Swallow Hill. Besides being two of the greatest humans we've had the privilege to meet, Johnny and Chris are unusually talented musicians with a chemistry and charisma reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkle. The first time they performed here as Storyhill, we were suddenly overwhelmed with an audience much younger than we are accustomed to but, with extraordinary enthusiasm and musical sensitivity.
Storyhill and their fans give us all hope that folk music will continue to be in very good hands far into the future."
Swallow Hill Music Association
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"...Storyhill is itself one of the finest songwriting duos of the past two decades. Listening to Cun..."...Storyhill is itself one of the finest songwriting duos of the past two decades. Listening to Cunningham and Hermanson sing their own compositions on albums like 2002's "Dovetail," it's hard to fathom why these guys haven't become staples of radio in their own right.
What they have become is one of the most successful independent contemporary folk groups in the country..."
Storyhill: the power of two
December 03, 2004
By Joe Nickell of the Missoulian
Wisconsin State Journal Quote
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"Stripped to its rootsy essential, Storyhill's music is a cross between the Indigo Girls and Simon &..."Stripped to its rootsy essential, Storyhill's music is a cross between the Indigo Girls and Simon & Garfunkel. It's tinged with transcendentalism and romanticism, touching on emotions and issues that everyone can relate to."
--Wisconsin State Journal
Boise State Quote
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"In a world where words are cheap, Storyhill's poetic simplicity is refreshing...maybe it is because..."In a world where words are cheap, Storyhill's poetic simplicity is refreshing...maybe it is because they seem misplaced in the scheme of what pop music is producing right now, like they should have been playing 30 years ago. Whatever it is, they have an obvious passion for music, and it comes out in their songs."
--arbiteronline.com (Boise State Independent Student Newspaper)
Storyhill usually performs two, 45 minute sets of original songs.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.