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--George Gibson, Rich Kirby, Paul David Smith, Lee Sexton, and Jamie Wells among them--Ratliff is often the traditionally trained musician on stage with country, acid honk-a-tonk, and cow punk. He 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 has played alongside the likes of Woody Pines, Foghorn Stringband, Jean Ritchie, Mike Seeger, and Art Stamper. Today Ratliff teaches traditional Kentucky repertoire at 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. His first solo release was the 2008 June Appal recording Cold Icy Mountain.

Brett said of his 2017 release Gone Boy, "With the help of friends, I've tried with all my heart to make this record in a way that says something true about my East Kentucky. Turns out, it might be a salve to these days, hearing something felt, something true. It is my prayer that it gives you both a real lift and real challenge."