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Music at the Museum

Music at the Museum is a new monthly concert series I will be producing in conjunction with the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL.  The series will feature the best in contemporary and traditional folk and acoustic music of all styles.
Concerts are held the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 PM in the Museum auditorium. Tickets are available at the door and are $10.00 per person, $8.00 for museum members and kids under 12.

I am happy to announce our new sponsor, Carpenter St. Hotel in Springfield.  We greatly appreciate their support and hope you will support them in return.  I’ve personally stayed there many times and always found the facility to be excellent and reasonable priced.  Take a moment to check them out on the link to the right.

Join our email list by clicking here.


May 11, 7:00pm:   Chris Vallillo and Burr Oak String Band     http://www.chrisvallillo.com

We’ll kick things off with a double billing.  Chris Vallillo is Illinois’ pre-eminent prairie-poet singer-songwriter who makes the people and places of “unmetropolitan” America come to life in song.  A master of bottleneck slide guitar, he weaves original, contemporary, and traditional songs and theatrical narratives into a compelling and entertaining portrait of the history and lifestyle of the Midwest.  His original work has often been compared to the poetry of Carl Sandburg and, like Sandburg himself, Vallillo has been involved documenting, performing and preserving the music of the rural Midwest.   It’s roots based original songs and instrumentals with the rich acoustic textures of bottleneck slide, finger style and flatpicked guitars that echo the influences of Mississippi John Hurt, Ry Cooder, Doc Watson and Guy Clark.  

The Burr Oak String Band hails from Springfield and the surrounding area and offers up a crowd-pleasing mix of lively instrumentals and heart-felt harmonies. Masters of a variety of instruments and styles – old-time, raggy blues, bluegrass, folk – they appeal to a range of musical sensibilities and can perform in a variety of settings, including concerts, festivals and dances. In different combinations the members of Burr Oak played together in several old-time or bluegrass bands before we decided to play together in the spring of 2015.

June 8th:  The Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers   http://www.sapsuckersmusic.com

The Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers perform original songs and tunes inspired by the classic hillbilly, country-duo, and old-time musical traditions–and also mines this same repertoire for forgotten gems that deserve to be heard again. Their 2015 album, “Ocooch Mountain Home,” (their second), has received high praise from the likes of fROOTSBluegrass Today, and Country Music People UK.

Based in Soldiers Grove, WI, the Sapsuckers (Nikki Grossman, guitar, fiddle, and vocals; Joe Hart, guitar, mandolin, and vocals) perform frequent concerts, as well as square and contra dances, and they are known for the light touch and sense of humor they bring to their performance.


July 13th:  Switchback    http://www.waygoodmusic.com

Switchback is the award-winning duo of Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack. Switchback draws on traditional Celtic music and original Americana songs that reflect their Irish heritage and Midwestern roots. Playing an exciting mix of mandolin, guitar, and bass, their harmonies have won them comparisons to famous duos, such as the Louvin Brothers, Everly Brothers, & Simon and Garfunkel. Music Connection Magazine said: “The words ‘American Roots & Celtic Soul’ only begin to describe this unusual act, whose vocal prowess is as pure as it is unique. There is no denying the stunning vocal blends that are achieved by this duo.”
Their Celtic music is authentically Irish, drawing praise from such traditional players as Matt Molloy of the group the Chieftains. Ireland has taken Switchback to her heart, with performances at art centers throughout the country and appearances on RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann). At the same time, their music is modern Celtic, with songs capturing the Irish of today as accurately as the Pogues and singer-songwriters like Christy Moore

August 10th: Felisko and Noden    https://www.rootsduo.com

Felisko and Noden are expert practitioners of harmonica and guitar styles that defined the blues in its earliest days but are now all too rarely heard and are.  They are also world class players and showmen. Their jaw-dropping virtuosity enables them to create more layers of sound and feeling than most full bands can summon, and both are high-energy, ultra-rhythmic performers. The collective result— in both their live shows and their recordings— are charged, dramatic performances that are simultaneously powerful and sophisticatedly subtle.

Both of these standout performers also teach and make it a point to share the insights they’ve gained from two lifetimes of deep research into the history of the music.  The pair has performed around the world including at Australia’s Playmakers Festival, the Harmonicales Festival in France, and at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.


September 14th:  Patchouli    http://www.patchouli.net

The acoustic worldbeat duo Patchouli is Wisconsin songwriter Julie Patchouli and guitarist Bruce Heckles.  They light up the air with sparkling acoustic sounds and their powerful contagious chemistry. Patchouli’s down-to-earth, hopeful songwriting is “New American Folk” blending elements of folk, pop, flamenco and jazz with world beat rhythms and their sound has been described as “the harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel meet the guitar brilliance of the Gipsy Kings”.

Their soulful fusion of blazing Spanish and world guitar instrumentals, spine tingling vocal harmonies, and epic folk rock anthems are infused with a visible onstage chemistry. An extraordinary bond is immediately apparent as two guitars merge into one acoustic wall of sound and their innovative, percussive flat-picking and hybrid fingerstyle techniques leave even astute listeners wondering where the drummer is.

October 12th:  Bucky Halker

Historian/songwriter/guitarist Bucky Halker has been called the “The living heir of Woody Guthrie” and his music is said to “conjures up the passionate fire of John Steinbeck.”

A native of Ashland, Wisconsin currently residing in Chicago, Halker’s songs draw extensively on his experiences on the road, his Midwest populist roots, and his strong interest in American history.  He is a recognized master of the music of Woody Guthrie while elements of country, folk, blues, and rock all make their way into his original songs, drawing comparisons to Steve Earle and John Mellencamp.   The Chicago  Tribune called Halker “one of Chicago’s most interesting songwriters” and folk-music magazine Dirty Linen described him as “incredibly appealing” and “a great singer.” Halker has extensive recording and touring credits, including several CDs, movie soundtracks, and European tours.  He will be joined on many of the songs by series host, Chris Vallillo who partners with Halker from time to time.

https://youtu.be/b-XhKVdozYM  You tube: Eisenhower Blues



November 9th:  Katie Dahl    http://www.katiedahlmusic.com

Wisconsin singer-songwriter Katie Dahl has performed her original songs everywhere from the dusty cliff country of Mali, West Africa, to the winding canals of southern France, to the cedar forests of the American northwoods. The depth and power of Katie’s alto voice, the literate candor of her original songs, and the easy humor of her live performances have earned her numerous songwriting awards, as well as the chance to share stages with such luminaries as Dar Williams, Peter Mulvey, Julie Gold, and Cheryl Wheeler.

Though Katie currently makes her home in rural Door County, Wisconsin, she travels extensively, playing intimate house concerts as well as established venues like Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Richly steeped in the folk songwriter tradition, Katie navigates the muddy waters between the personal and the public with the skill of a writer twice her age. She is equally comfortable writing about the intricacies of a complicated relationship (without being indulgent or myopic) and taking on the threat of chain restaurants to her own small community (without being polarizing or didactic). The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says that Katie combines “old-fashioned populism, an abiding love of the land and wickedly smart love songs, all delivered in a rich and expressive alto.”

December 14th:  TBA