Brett Ratliff's homeplace is Van Lear, Kentucky, the historic coal camp that gave birth to Loretta Lynn.
Having been mentored by the masters of the area, Ratliff has toured the region and the world with groups such as Clack Mountain String Band, Dirk Powell Band, Giant Rooster Sideshow, and Rich & the Po’ Folk, and he has played alongside the likes of Woody Pines, Foghorn Stringband, Jean Ritchie, Mike Seeger, and Art Stamper. Ratliff has taught traditional Kentucky repertoire far and wide, including The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington; Swannanoa Gathering in Swannanoa, North Carolina; Sore Fingers Week in Oxfordshire, England; Augusta Heritage's Early Country Music Week in Elkins, WV; Cowan Creek Mountain Music School in Letcher County, KY and elsewhere. Also a community organizer, Ratliff is an activist for the connection between the arts, foodways, and economic development. Ratliff has worked toward the wellness of his region with such organizations as Appalshop and Hindman Settlement School, and he has founded festivals, such as the Morehead Old Time Music Festival and the Lexington Old Time Gathering, that continue today. His first solo release was the 2008 June Appal recording Cold Icy Mountain. Gone Boy is his long awaited second solo project.