Kristian Bush and Andrew Hyra first began working together in 1990, when Hyra and his sister Annie recorded the down-home folk album Big Back Porch Songs as the Hyras. Bush contributed guitar and backup vocals to several songs, and the Hyras returned the favor that same year, guesting on Bush's self-titled solo album. Though Big Back Porch Songs has never been released, Kristian Bush was given a cassette-only release around Knoxville, TN, the duo's home. St. Christopher's Crossing appeared the following year (credited to Andrew Hyra & Kristian Bush), and after christening themselves billy pilgrim, Hyra and Bush signed with Atlantic. Their 1994 eponymous debut album retained the folk underpinnings of previous releases, though billy pilgrim stepped things up for the following year's Bloom, recorded in Memphis with musicians including Garry Tallent (Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band), Mike Campbell (Tom Petty), Sonny Landreth, Greg Morrow, Richard Bennett,and Rod Smarr (Dr. Hook).