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The HUB to Feature Songs About Western Illinois

Courtesy of the artist
Chris Vallillo

Artists sometimes take inspiration from the place they call home. That's the case for a western Illinois musician whose upcoming performance will highlight the songs he wrote during the years he called Rushville home.

The concert featuring Chris Vallillo will be held Friday, March 22, 7:00 p.m. at the HUB Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Rushville. There is a $5.00 suggested donation. 

Vallillo, who’s calling this “a hometown concert,” said he lived in or near Rushville for around 20 years beginning in 1979.

“First outside of town in an old farmhouse (in) one of those wonderful $50 a month specials you could get back in the day. And then later in an old Victorian house in town,” Vallillo said.

He said Rushville was the place where he started becoming a singer-songwriter. Vallillo said the community and the region served as the muse that drove the songs he was writing. It’s where he came up with original songs such as Silhouette Against the Stars and Sunday Drivin’ on a Monday Afternoon.

It is also where he wrote Walnut Fiddle, which Vallillo said was written about an old fiddle player named Homer Bedenbender who lived just west of town.

“I had interviewed him during a music collecting project that I did for Illinois Arts Council Agency. And he told me the story of how he had built this fiddle from a tree that had been on his property. And literally ten days after I interviewed him and recorded him, he passed away,” Vallillo said.

“When that happened, when I heard about it, I remembered his story and I wrote that song as sort of a remembrance or tribute to him.”

He said he will also perform a song called Forgottonia 1984. Vallillo said he started writing the song in 1984 but didn’t finish it.  Then a couple years ago he came across the piece in an old notebook and felt it captured that time in this region so he reworked and finished the song.

Vallillo said he felt at home in Rushville.

“It was a time when I was beginning to explore what would become my life’s work. So in many ways it was a very exciting time even though they were my – quote – starving artist years – unquote.”

Vallillo currently lives in Macomb.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.