Chris Vallillo


Home base: Macomb, IL

Chris Vallillo is a singer/songwriter and 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 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.

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 reached #10 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart.


Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement Ensemble: solo to 4-et

Multi-instrumental performances and narration of pivotal songs that inspired and sustained our nation's Civil Rights Movement that resonate with audiences today.

The video below was performed in Spring 2018 in a full production featuring Chris Vallillo 4-et and Western Illinois University Singers. Choral score is now available for your local university or community choir to participate in this powerful performance.

Abraham Lincoln in Song:                                 Ensemble:duo to 4-et

The life of Abraham Lincoln spanned a period of change, growth and struggle in our young nation, and the music of his era movingly characterizes these times. Period music, Lincoln's own words and stories combine to tell the story of our greatest President, his life and times.


In the Press

2016 The CD  Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement reaches # 6 on the Folk Charts

2015: Created the one man show Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement featuring 11 pivotal songs from the movement.

"With Abraham Lincoln in Song, Chris Vallillo takes the audience on a musical journey,making history come alive with his excellent blending of music and storytelling.”--Phil Funkenbusch, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

“Hugely entertaining... we have received nothing but rave reviews.”- Sara Daly Brosman, Delphi Opera House, Delphi IN