History Through Song, Chris Vallillo
Chris Vallillo is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumental roots musician who makes the people and places of “unmetropolitan” America come to life in song. Having spent the last 30 years in the rural Midwest, he has a natural affinity for American roots music. Performing on six-string and bottleneck slide guitars, hammer dulcimer, banjo and harmonica, Vallillo weaves original, contemporary, and traditional songs and narratives into a compelling and entertaining portrait of the history and lifestyles of the Midwest.
Dirty Linen magazine described the music as, “vivid, original story songs” delivered with an “eye for detail and a sense of history” while Folk Wax Magazine Editor, Arthur Wood said “Vallillo’s guitar playing flows like warm honey and is a true aural delight.”
Vallillo’s music has a timeless quality about it, with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Perhaps the archaeology degree Vallillo earned at Beloit College (BA Anthropology, 1976) helped him see the important little details of life which imbue his songs with a sense of history. His prairie poet style has been compared to Edgar Lee Masters and Vachel Lindsay and you can hear the strains of the Carter Family and Jimmy Rogers reflected in his writing. It’s roots based original and contemporary folk with the rich acoustic textures of bottleneck slide, finger style and flatpicked guitars that echo the influences of Mississippi John Hurt, Norman Blake, Doc Watson and John Fahey.
A recipient of a 1986 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award for
music composition, Chris was a nominee for the Illinois Arts Council’s
1987 Governor’s Award for Individual Artist. In 1987 he conducted the
Schuyler Arts Folk Music Project to document the last of the pre-radio
generation. From 1990 through 1998 he served as the performing host and co-producer of the nationally distributed, award-winning public radio performance series Rural Route 3 where he performed next to (and with) a virtual who’s who of contemporary and traditional folk musicians.
Always a project oriented artist, in the early 2000’s Vallillo began creating a series of one man shows using music as the vehicle to explore a subject or theme. His 2008 project, Abraham Lincoln in Song, received the endorsement of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the audio CD reached #10 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart in March of 2008. In 2018, his show Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement was brought to the theatrical stage and video taped for broadcast on Public Television. He is currently live streaming Abraham Lincoln In Song for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. Funding support is currently available, for both live and live streamed performances, through the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Illinois Humanities Council.
Pricing starts at: $500
elementary school, middle school, high school, college, library/civic
Performance Length: 45-60 minutes
Live stream and live in person performances available. Funding support available. Contact for details.
Set-up Time: 30-40 minutes
Strike Time: 20-30 minutes
Performer Needs: Chris can provide the sound system. Minimum performance space of 10' by 20'. Stage plots available for stage presentations.
Address: PO Box 144
Macomb, IL 61455