Monthly Archives: June 2014

Abraham Lincoln in Song Presented at Liberty Days Festival

Morris,IL – Award winning singer/songwriter Chris Vallillo will present his Abraham Lincoln in Song program and will be joined by Abraham and Mary Lincoln (Max and Donna Daniels). On Saturday June 28 at 1:30pm on the Courthouse lawn.  This is part of a weeklong celebration in historic Morris, IL.  815-941-0245

“On February the 12th, 1809, Abraham Lincoln came into this world in a dirt floored log cabin on the big south fork of Nolan’s Creek in Kentucky” says folk singer Chris Vallillo as he launches into the combination of narrative, storytelling and music that is his one man show Abraham Lincoln in Song.  Vallillo created the show using period music Lincoln was directly associated with to tell the story of Lincoln’s life and times.

With Abraham Lincoln in Song, Vallillo combines Lincoln’s own words and stories with contemporary folk music and period folk songs to shed light on one of our nation’s most beloved historical figures — not only as a remarkable leader, but as a man who knew and loved this very music himself.

Extensively researched and historically accurate, both the live show and compact disc recording ofAbraham Lincoln in Songhave been endorsed by the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Commissions of Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. When released last year, the CD of music from the show hit #10 on the Billboard Charts.

Vallillo himself is a performer with an affinity for American roots music and a gift for translating historic topics into modern day understanding without losing the bedrock from which they surface. A former archaeologist turned songwriter and folklorist Chris Vallillo is a skilled six-string and bottleneck slide guitarist whose love of the past evolved into a love for old music.

Troubadour Mark Dvorak in concert to support Steel Beam Theatre

ST. CHARLES IL – The Steel Beam Theatre presents, “An Intimate Evening with Mark Dvorak” on Friday, July 11 at the Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main Street, St. Charles. Tickets are $40 per adult and include a light supper, dessert and admission to the concert. Dinner is at 6:30 pm and the concert begins at 7:30 pm. Dessert will be served during intermission. All proceeds support the theatre and its programs. Pre-show music provided by Fight with Monsters, acoustic guitars of Ryan Caldwell and Ryan Worthy, who will play background during the supper hour. Food provided by Mary Bohadlo and Mary B Cookin’ catering.

Now in its thirteenth season, the Steel Beam Theatre earned “Best of the Fox” from the Kane County Chronicle reader’s poll earlier this year. The professional theatre operates year-round with a full schedule of adult shows, children’s theatre and workshops.

“We’re proud and blessed to have flourished here in the Fox River Valley for the past fourteen years,” said theatre founder and director Donna Steele. “Music has always been a good way to fill in our schedule, and we’re so lucky that Mark is coming to our stage for our summer event.”

Dvorak was named “Chicago’s Troubadour” by WFMT 98.7 fm fine arts radio last year, and is the 2013 recipient of the FARM Lantern Bearer Award for his contribution to the field of folk music.  His songwriting has been called “wondrous,” and “profound.” His performance “an elegant balancing act of the traditional, the original and the powerful.” The Chicago Tribune calls him “masterful,” while SING OUT! Magazine says, “Dvorak shines!”

Dvorak has released sixteen albums to date and last year his first book of essays and poems, “Bowling for Christmas and Other Tales from the Road” was published and received glowing reviews. The initial printing sold out in nine days.

Tickets can be ordered by phoning the Steel Beam Theatre box office at 630 587 8521 or online at For more information on Mark Dvorak, visit his website at

James Curley Introduces New Band and CD at Wire- June 15

Wire presents James Curley & The Next Little Thing In Concert, celebrating the release of James’ recent CD There Used To Be A Train and the debut of the new band featuring George F. Callobre, Melanie Budd, Ross Rutherford and Ben Lansing.

Sunday, June 15, 2014 7:30pm, Wire is located at 6815 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn, IL. 708-669-9473.  21+ $10

“My aesthetic life is densely populated with songwriters, “ says Chicago songwriter James Curley. “I see and hear the world through them, and they have informed my emotional and artistic life since I first heard ‘Moon River’ at the age of 5 and asked ‘who wrote that?’ (Henry Mancini) instead of ‘who sang that?” (Andy Williams)” .

James Curley began writing songs in the mid 70s in his native Philadelphia, influenced mainly by his trips to the Philadelphia Folk Festival and to local clubs like the Main Point, Grendel’s Lair and others. He appeared as a solo songwriter back then, opening locally for other artists of the day, including Artie Traum and Lou London.

Leaving Philadelphia, James played in Denver, Boulder, Eugene and other areas and eventually wound up in Houston, where he was heavily influenced by the Texas songwriter scene there at the time. Moving to Austin in 1979, he immersed himself deeper in the local songwriting scene and performed in venues there until moving to Chicago several years later

Curley’s 3rd CD is thick with songwriter homage, both obvious and subtle. From John Lennon, Steve Goodman and Townes Van Zandt being directly referenced, and Warren Zevon’s “Mutineer” being covered, to more oblique relationships like the one between “The Virtual Waltz” and John Prine’s “Donald and Lydia” and the one between Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” and Curley’s own “There Used To Be a Train” – there are ghosts of songwriter influences at every turn. “A Townes Van Zandt Song” received an Honorable Mention accolade in the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Songwriter Contest hosted by the Songwriters Association of Washington.

Chris Vallillo Returns to Box Factory for the Arts

The Riversong Music Society presents award-winning singer/songwriter Chris Vallillo in Concert on Saturday June 14, 2014.  7:30pm at The Box Factory for the Arts,  located at 1101 Broad St., St. Joseph, MI.  269-983-3688.  $10 adults, $8 seniors/students, under 12 free.

Vallillo has long been known as a musician who makes the people and places of “unmetropolitan” America come to life in song. A singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with an affinity for American roots music, Vallillo is a skilled six-string and bottleneck slide guitarist who incorporates original and traditional material to form a musical portrait of the Midwestern way of life.  Perhaps the archaeology degree Vallillo earned at Beloit College helped him see the important little details of life which imbue his songs with a sense of history.

The Last Day of Winter is the 7th CD release by Chris Vallillo following his successful release of Abraham Lincoln In Song.

While some might disagree, Vallillo clearly believes “There is no such thing as too many guitars!” And with this new recording, he takes that claim seriously. For years he collected and restored old stringed instruments, some high quality, most quite inexpensive, but each with its own unique voice.   With The Last Day of Winter, Vallillo uses this unique collection of voices to create a distinctive recording of original and American roots music heavily featuring his unique bottleneck slide playing. “Of all styles of playing, for me, slide guitar is the most intimate.” said Vallillo. “It’s an emotive style of playing that can make a slow song simmer and a fast piece burn and I wanted to focus on that style of playing for this project.”

While seventeen different vintage instruments are featured on the CD, Vallillo expects to have some of those instruments with him performing music that ranges from classic Americana melodies such as “The Water Is Wide” and “Old Joe Clark” to original songs like the poignant “Lettie’s Song” or the beautiful song of harvest time, “Silhouette Against the Stars.”

Birdhouse Center for the Arts Welcomes Michael Johnathon

Birdhouse Center for the Arts (7 North Main Street, Lambertville, New Jersey) welcomes Kentucky-based folk singer/songwriter Michael Johnathon for a special concert introducing his new CD Looking Glass on Saturday June 21. Johnathon will also conduct a one-hour songwriting workshop prior to the concert.

Workshop (4:30-5:30pm) $12, Concert (7:30pm) $10  (Workshop and Concert combo $20)  or 609-397-3964 for more information.

Michael Johnathon is a folk singer, songwriter, concert performer, author who created and hosts the worldwide broadcast of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour with a radio audience with over a million listeners each week on 500 public radio stations, PBS-TV coast-to-coast plus American Forces Radio Network in 173 nations. He also created the world’s first multi-camera weekly music series broadcast on the Internet. Michael is also a playwright; his play Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau has over 8,000 registered performances in 42 countries and translated into four languages. He wrote a full symphony opera to commemorate the 2012 Centennial of Woody Guthrie titled Woody: For The People, set on February 23, 1940 – the day he wrote “This Land Is Your Land.” His new CD Looking Glass is a live performance collection of traditional and original songs.

Growing up in New York, Michael Johnathon was Pete Seeger’s neighbor. Now settled in the foothills of Appalachia, the Kentucky-based songwriter is a prolific artist with ten released albums, two published books and several national projects.

He performed two thousand Earth Concerts, plus benefits for the homeless, farm families, and shelters helping battered women and children. In all, he sang to over two million people in one four-year stretch. Billboard Magazine headlined him as an “UnSung Hero.” He has been featured on CNN, TNN, CMT, AP, Headline News, NPR, Bravo and the BBC.

Acoustic Blues Summit at Old Town School June 29

CHICAGO IL – The Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, presents the Acoustic Blues Summit on Sunday, June 29 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Three Chicago guitar masters, Paul Kaye, Mark Dvorak and Chris Walz will each present a workshop focused on acoustic blues skills and styles. At 3:30 pm, the session will culminate with a free acoustic jam with the workshop leaders. Cost is $25, $23 for Old Town School members.

“Acoustic Blues Basics” led by Mark Dvorak will focus on creating a shuffle rhythm, adding a turnaround and explore the approach Dvorak learned from blues legend Brownie McGhee. Dvorak will also present an introduction to fingerpicking in the style of Mississippi John Hurt and the right-hand technique of Chicago’s Big Bill Broonzy. Learn more and enroll at

“Breakin It Down” with Paul Kaye, introduces guitarists to cool chord voicings, hot licks and toe-tapping rhythms that characteristic of many blues styles. Learn more and enroll at

“Slide It On Over,” with Chris Walz focuses on working in open tunings and getting a great blues sound using a bottleneck slide. Bring your guitar, a slide and a capo and you’ll get the rest at the workshop. Learn more and enroll here:

The session will feature the free “All Welcome Blues Jam” with the three workshop leaders. For more information, contact the Old Town School of Folk Music at 773-728-6000 or online at