American roots music lends itself to being shared from artist to artist, says fiddler Amy Alvey of Hoot and Holler.
"Old-time music wasn't meant to be performance-based," she says. "It was music people played on their front porches. It's less about competition and more about sharing the experience of playing together."
Alvey and guitar player Mark Kilianski are folk duo Hoot and Holler. They'll perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, in the Headwaters Room of the Geos Institute, 84 Fourth St., Ashland. Admission is $10.
The Berklee College of Music grads will debut new material and perform songs from their newest full-length album, "Reasons to Run," released last February. An EP, "Nothing If Not Young," was released in 2013.
This is not Hoot and Holler's first show in Ashland, but it is the first time Alvey and Kilianski will offer workshops. Alvey will lead an old-time fiddle workshop at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Geos Institute, and Kilianski will offer a guitar workshop at 2 p.m. Each workshop is 90 minutes and costs $20 to $30 on a sliding scale.
Alvey is originally from Orange County and Kilianski is from New Jersey, she says during a call from Tacoma, Washington. The duo was leaving for the Bellingham Folk Festival last weekend to perform and teach workshops.
The two met at Berklee in Boston.
"It was there we discovered traditional roots music," Alvey says. "I played classical music in orchestras, and Mark played a lot of rock music and studied some jazz."
After graduation, the duo hit the road full time in Alvey's camper van, "Irene," in 2016. Eventually, they made Ashville, North Carolina, home.
"One of the things that drew us to Asheville is the older and younger musicians there that are deeply involved in preserving Appalachian music," Alvey says. "It's been a cool place to be when we're at home. It's a music town, and it's a liberal hub that attracts artists. Although we spent only a few months there last year, and this year will be about the same.
"The West Coast is a nice place to be in the winter, and we enjoy summers on the East Coast. We have a circuit built up going back and forth across the country."
Alvey plays fiddle and guitar and Kilianski plays guitar and banjo — a banjo he built. Each is a songwriter, and Hoot and Holler's shows are mostly original music.
"Sometimes we'll play traditional tunes," Alvey says. "Sometimes we'll arrange traditional music or covers on the spot, especially if it's a long gig. If we play covers, they're usually old tunes by early country music artist Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon or even further back to old bluegrass standards."
Alvey and Kilianski are equally influenced by tunesmiths Gillian Welch, Townes Van Zandt and others as they are by authentic Appalachian mountain musicians Roscoe Holcomb and Ola Belle Reed.
"The thing I love about Gillian Welch and Cahalen Morrison is they write new songs with that element of sounding old," Alvey says. "That's our style. We try to write songs that fans will want to hear in 50 years, or 100 years. We're drawn to that aesthetic of traditional roots music, but we want to be true to ourselves and have our own voice within that aesthetic. That's the goal for any artist. We want to stand on our own."