OMAHA CITY REVIEW Chris Vallillo, Abraham Lincoln in Song (Gin Ridge Records, Ginridge.com) Chicago may have been the unofficial capital of the Midwest since at least the turn of the 20th century, but the true soul of Illinois lies several hundred miles farther to the South. Along the banks of the mighty Mississippi and Ohio Rivers lurk the spirits of a bygone era, throwbacks to a wide-open time when riverboat rounders and runaway slaves thought nothing of throwing it all down on the turn of a card and when a young bachelor named Abraham Lincoln put down the roots that allowed him to blossom from obscure prairie lawyer to one of the most important figures in the development of the Western world as we know it today. Illinois songsmith Chris Vallillo captures the frontier spirit and energy of the time brilliantly in his newest Gin Ridge Records release, Abraham Lincoln in Song. This album is a collection of songs from a variety of sources, including some newer tunes but mostly consisting of works dating to the mid-19th century. Several Stephen Foster classics can be found, including Hard Times Come Again No More and We Are Coming, Father Abraham. Vallillo s earnest baritone does them great justice, with his trademark slide guitar flourishes polishing the arrangements with a touch of true Americana. Another great track, newer but no less classic, is Let The Band Play Dixie by singer-songwriters Bob Gibson and Dave North, telling the tale of the moment when Lincoln announced Lee s surrender to the gathered crowd around the White House and, in a beautifully-timed gesture of reconciliation, intoned that classic phrase to the band and let the population of Washington know that the time for divisiveness had passed and the time for healing had begun. With the bicentennial of Lincoln s birth fast approaching, anything and everything Honest Abe will soon be in high demand. Take a few moments from your busy life to honor him by checking out this disc, and get a glimpse of what life on the Mississippi River flatboats was really all about. Ian Simons --Omaha City Review
ROOTS MUSIC CD CELEBRATES ABRAHAM LINCOLN 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. He grabbed hold of the museum visitors here, establishing excellent rapport with the audience with this thoughtful, humorous and moving show. Phil Funkenbush Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Springfield, Illinois NASHVILLE, TN JANUARY 22ND 2008 On February 12th, the official the kick off of the two year bicentennial celebration of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday, roots musician and folklorist Chris Vallillo will release Abraham Lincoln in Song, a unique and eclectic collection of songs for lovers of history and roots music alike. Recently endorsed by the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Abraham Lincoln in Song weaves historic, period music and contemporary folksongs into a celebration of the life and times of one of our nation's favorite sons. Lincoln's life spanned a period of great change, growth and struggle in our young nation, and the music of his era movingly characterizes these remarkable times. I hope the collection of music in this project helps shed light on one of history's most beloved figures; not only as a remarkable leader, but as a man, who knew and loved many of these very songs himself, Vallillo says. The project is educational as well as entertaining, with comprehensive liner notes including interesting anecdotes about the songs and composers. I wanted to show the importance behind that particular choice of music in relation to the life of Abraham Lincoln, said Vallillo. The songs were recorded using Vallillo s extensive collection of vintage instruments in order to capture the correct sonic texture. Even the cover art reflects meticulous attention to detail, with a rare photograph of the actual Lincoln stove pipe hat now in the collection of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, IL. Vallillo is an award winning performer with an affinity for American roots music and a gift for translating historic topics into modern day understanding without losing the bedrock and foundation from which they surface. An accomplished six-string and bottleneck slide guitarist, Chris is well known for incorporating original and traditional material to make the people and places of unmetropolitan America come to life. From 2006 through early 2008, he served as the Illinois State Scholar for New Harmonies, the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit on roots music. During that time Vallillo worked with a world class exhibition that told the story of roots music in its many forms, from blues to folk to gospel, to country, to ethnic to bluegrass and more-a virtual sound track to the melting pot that is America. Syndicated columnist Ken Bradbury notes, Chris Vallillo is the complete package...a haunting voice, a master at his instruments, and a stage presence that holds anyone of any age spellbound. Chris pulls off the nearly impossible task of making poetry of our heritage while maintaining the integrity of the original material. And in Chris's case, that material is the very stuff of which we are made...our history. Vallillo's Abraham Lincoln in Song is an ideal soundtrack for the bicentennial celebration honoring one of our country's most beloved leaders. From the haunting Battle Cry of Freedom, through the poignant We are Coming Father Abra am and the original Minstrel song version of Dixie s Land, Abraham Lincoln in Song is a fitting tribute to the man, the place music held in his life, and the place both still hold in American life today.