We’ve written before about The Hillbilly Thomists, a group of Dominican Friars of the Order of Preachers, Catholic priests and brothers who have a bluegrass band. Of course, the band exists to spread the Gospel message, not to seek fame and fortune in bluegrass, but they have become quite popular among their flock for the music they perform.
Their mission is explained well on The Hillbilly Thomists web site, which also illustrates the name they have chosen for the group.
“In 1955, the southern author Flannery O’Connor said of herself, ‘Everybody who has read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas . . . I’m a hillbilly Thomist.’ She said that her fiction was concerned with the ways grace is at work among people who do not have access to the sacraments. The Thomist (one who follows the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas), believes that the invisible grace of God can be at work in visible things, just as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in the person of Christ.”
Now they have a new album to share, called Living for the Other Side. Whereas their self-titled debut project in 2017 consisted of folk and bluegrass arrangements of familiar Gospel songs, this new one is primarily original material written within the band.
Fr. Jonah, who plays guitar, tells us that, “It’s not exactly bluegrass all the way through (honestly, we can’t all play fast enough for that!), but we hope you enjoy it.”
The first video from Living for the Other Side was released today, for Our Help Is in the Name of the Lord, written by Jonah Teller and Justin Bolger, both O.P. It shows the brothers going about their work and prayer life, and of course, playing music together.
In addition to Jonah and Justin on guitar, The Hillbilly Thomists are Timothy Danaher, O.P. on vocals; Peter Gautsch, O.P. on guitar, mandolin, bass, piano, and vocals; Joseph Hagan, O.P. on percussion; Austin Litke, O.P. on guitar, mandolin, and vocals; and Thomas Joseph White, O.P. on banjo, reso-guitar, and vocals.
The Dominicans are a mendicant order, meaning that they all take a vow of personal poverty, owning no property except jointly within the order. All monies raised from the sale of their music goes to The Dominican House of Studies in Washington, where the various members first met.
Living for the Other Side is available now from Amazon and other online retailers.
You can learn more about The Hillbilly Thomists on their web site.