Chris Vallillo is a singer/songwriter and folk musician who makes the people and places of “unmetropolitan” America come to life in song. Having spent the last 35 years in the rural Midwest, he has a natural affinity for American roots music.
Performing on six-string and bottleneck slide guitars and vocals, 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.
Chris is a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award for music composition and has been nominated for the Illinois Arts Council’s Governor’s Award for Individual Artist. Early in his career, he conducted the Schuyler Arts Folk Music Project documenting the last music of the pre-radio generation – work later accepted into the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress.
For eight years 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, Vallillo has created a number of
one-man shows using music to explore a subject or theme. The recording from his latest recording, Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement charted at # 6 on the National Folk DJ charts while his program Abraham Lincoln in Song, received the endorsement of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and the accompanying CD recording of the music charted at #10 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart.
He has twice served as the Illinois State Scholar for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit on roots music New Harmonies but through it all, he has kept writing, touring and recording. In 2013 he released a CD of bottleneck slide instrumentals and original songs, The Last Day of Winter, (#14 on the Folk DJ charts) and produced the double CD set Midwest Folklife Festival for the Illinois Arts Council. He recently completed the sound track for a series of videos for the The Illinois Freedom Project for the Lincoln Home National
Historic Site and recorded the music for the nationally syndicated radio program Lincoln in Music and Letters for the WFMT radio network (currently up for an International Radio Program Competition award). He is currently preparing Oh Freedom! for touring and finishing up the DVD of it's premier performance.