The Democrat

Sedalia, Missouri

November 2, 2001


“There’s trouble on the hill”

By Kathleen Boswell


The Nace Brothers have been performing together for nearly 20 years.  For much of that time, brothers Dave and Jimmy Nace have played their own music.  They have just released their newest CD, which contains 10 original songs by Jimmy Nace.  One of the songs, and the one the CD theme is based on, is an old family story the boys recently learned about.


“Trouble on the Hill” had its origins in a 1907 murder near Burtville, a small community southwest of Knob Noster.  The Nace brothers’ great-aunt Alta Heard, who had been a Nace, was accused of murdering her sister-in-law, Lizzie Heard.


When the boys’ mother began writing the stories of her late husband’s family, she included what she had heard about the murder.  She asked Jimmy to read through what she had written and give her some feeback.


As he read through the standard family history, he was shocked to see this little detail he had never heard mentioned.  That discovery led him to do more research and find out more aobut Alta and Lizzie.


According to newspaper accounts of the day, the sisters-in-law didn’t get along well to begin with and adding a jug of whiskey to the mix was a deadly combination.  The jusry found Alta had acted in self-defense when she used an old case knife to slash at her attacker, so she was acquitted.


Jimmy Nace’s lines “Ever since this world’s been turning, there’s been trouble on the hill.  You’d think by now, we’d be learning to tear down the walls we build” are accompanied by a traditional country fiddle for “The Ballad of Lizzie Heard.”  The other songs in the collection show the band’s ability to create a variety of sounds.



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