You may have never heard of Nevada Hill, but his fingerprints — quite literally — were all over the North Texas music scene. Hill passed away on Thursday morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 34. The news was confirmed this morning in a post on his Facebook page:
He was never the sort of guy to headline a big venue like Trees or get his songs played on the radio. Hill was always at home in a bar like Crown & Harp — where he frequented the experimental music nights — and especially the clubs of Denton, where he pushed the limits of experimental and noise music for more than a decade. But if you were familiar with those bars and clubs and with those parts of the music scene, it was impossible to miss him. (His tall, lanky frame and puff of curly hair certainly helped.)
Hill's reach extended beyond the bands that he played in (which numbered many), as his concert posters and album artwork were also staples of other North Texas musicians. He was an unsung hero of sorts, working behind the scenes in all corners of the music community, and consistently humble about his contributions. In recent years his output was slowed by his illness, but his determination to keep working added ever greater heft to the music he made, particularly with his band Bludded Head, in which he conveyed his physical pain and suffering through raw, unflinching songs with titles like "Shitsucker Blues" and "Fuckitdry."
But Hill's approach to that suffering was never wallowing or self-pitying. "You're always wondering when it's going to travel to your lungs, brain or liver. Because then you're really fucked," he told the Observer's Jonathan Patrick in 2014. "I'm not alone," he added. "We're all suffering."
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That interview took place at the time of Reign in Bludd's release, the last EP he made as Bludded Head. But while his cancer treatment inevitably hung over proceedings — Hill dealt with his illness with candor — he made clear why he wouldn't let it stop him creating his art: "For me, [music] is not about money. Fuck making money," he said. "I just want people to hear what I'm doing."
He continued doing so until he was no longer physically capable, as Arthur Peña — whose Vice Palace hosted Hill's final public performance — recalled in a Facebook post of his own earlier this morning: