Louisville Magazine

MAR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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50 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.19 MUSIC Erin Hill emerges from the kitchen with a stainless-steel bowl filled with folded strips of paper. "You watched 'Nick of Time'?" she asks. She's referring to the 1960 Twilight Zone episode that features a couple whose car breaks down in rural Ohio during a honeymoon road trip to New York. While waiting for a replacement fuel pump, they discover a fortune-telling napkin dispenser, the Mystic Seer, inside a small cafe. e Mystic Seer has a devil's head on a spring, a mischievous smile and a glinting rhinestone for an eyeball. e superstitious husband, played by William Shatner, asks it questions ("If we don't stay in here until three o'clock, something bad will happen to us?") and mostly receives cryptic non-answers on strips of paper ("Do you dare risk finding out?"). Last night, Hill sent an email urging me to watch the episode, writing, "All will be revealed tomorrow." It's a Sunday afternoon in early January, and we're in the living room of her Jef- fersonville, Indiana, house, a green-sided split-story with a knob in the center of the front door. is place has been home since Hill was about two, and for the past year or so she has been splitting time be- tween here and Queens, New York, where she was living with her husband, mother and sister. e living room has a white leather sectional and a matching recliner with wood arms, but Hill sits cross-legged on the carpet, which has mod stripes of burgundy, cream and avocado-green. She has decorated the walls with framed issues of the sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories — planets, oversized ants. A print of the Dutch Renaissance painting e Hunters in the Snow has been hanging since she was little. A silver aluminum Christmas tree stands in one corner and remains year-round. She likes to say she'll take it down the day it stops making her happy. "And that never happens," she says. Her Westie, MacLeod (named after the High- lander character), lies near her, a long line of stitches from a tumor-removal surgery snaking up his leg. At 16, MacLeod has officially earned "old man status," mean- ing he's prone to biting. As Hill pets him, he snaps at her several times. "In fact, if he bites you, he's even more your dog," she says. "en you're family." Hill seems to be an ageless clone from her early days on Broadway, 20 years ago. Her makeup-free skin is consistent and pale, and her thin red hair nearly reaches her waist. A self-described third-gen- eration Chicago Cubs fan, she wears a different Cubs top nearly every time we meet, unless she's in a performance outfit. "e first line of the article is going to be, 'How many Cubs shirts does Erin have?'" she says. is time, it's a navy V-neck. Hill says she loved "Nick of Time" as a girl. "When I was a teenager, I made my own game," she says. Like a claw machine, she lifts and drops a handful of paper slips. On each one she has written, in neat print, the same responses Shatner's character received. "is is the Mystic Seer," she says. "You can ask frivolous questions or serious questions, which can be scary to ask — like how Cloudy's test results are going to come back." We ask if it will snow this winter. e response: "Your chances are good." (Score one for the Mystic Seer.) Hill asks, "Will I get a song or music placement on a TV show, movie or commercial in 2019?" Not an unusual prospect for Hill, who recorded a version of the Game of rones theme on the harp for an HBO promo. Response: "If that's what you really want." She laughs, rolls her eyes. "I've thought a lot about it," she says. "at's what I really want." ough she might be known in certain New York music and theater circles, Hill remains, almost bafflingly, an unknown locally, even though she performed on Chappelle's Show and toured with Kanye West. (My discovery of her was circum- stantial. I Googled "Louisville Pumpkin Lady" for a separate article, and somehow Hill's website was among the results.) Her childhood friend, Julie James, says, "We know she has the talent (and) we know she has the people skills. It's just one of those mysteries — sometimes you're just not at the right place at the right time or there's something else going on in the world." e two have been friends since middle school, when James heard a beau- tiful melody reverberating off the mess hall walls at camp. Turning her head, she discovered a tiny Erin Hill delicately tapping away at the piano keys. Welcome to Hill House By Jenny Kiefer Erin Hill has worked with Kanye West, Dave Chappelle, Bill Murray and — we could name-drop like this all day. Now, the self-described "rock harpist" is coming home.

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