November on the move
Here we go into a nearly mid-November run with sad news, good gigs and contest results.
For me personally, early-to-mid November is filled with memories of loved ones lost, including a grandmother, father, brother-in-law and best music-playing pal. Now we add the name of John Brillhart, a good, caring and longtime friend, an excellent singer-songwriter and passionate curator of Americana roots music, to the list of dearly departed. As I write this on Tuesday, John passed away some time in the night after a car accident on I-55 while he was returning from a show in Bloomington. I don’t know more than that now. Music fan that he was, whenever he had a night off he’d go to listen to and soak in the sounds of others he admired. The sounds and emotions he took in came out in his performances and also in his seemingly endless knowledge of artists, songs, albums and concerts.
I don’t know what else to say now. As with all those who knew John and appreciated his talents and friendship, including family and friends, the shock of losing him is still settling. I will do my best to pay tribute by playing his songs, ones that always deserved a larger audience, wherever I go. By the time this is in print, details of services and life celebrations will be available. He was booked to play this Friday at Craft Beer Bar and hosted a regular open mic with Geoff Ryan every Tuesday at George Rank’s, as well as several other venues and festivals around town. As his brother Mark just told me over the phone, John was much loved and respected, as shown by the many heartfelt condolences received. So long, Johnny B.
In the spirit of John Brillhart, we must mention the upcoming Bedrock 66 Live concert on Sunday featuring Robbie Fulks, a longtime favorite artist of John’s. Last Acre, the daughter-father duo of Molly and Mark Mathewson, opens the show at 5 p.m. Robbie, one of the best contemporary singer-songwriter-guitarists in the Americana field, does so much more than what that sounds like. He’s a prose writer as well, a humorist in song, an interpreter of old country classics and Michael Jackson (he did a whole record of MJ covers), and, best of all, he does a bang-up job of entertaining the folks wherever he goes.
Another favorite band of John’s, the Buckhart-based Wolf Crick Boys, plays the Riverton Party Store on Thursday, from 7 to 9 p.m., rockin’ the country-classic style with songs by Lucky Patterson and some cool covers backed by one butt-kickin’ band. As I said, John was booked for Friday, but if he wasn’t playing, he’d likely be out seeing upcoming artists like these.
On Friday the Turnpike Troubadours return to Boondocks for another (sold out) high-energy, red-dirt styled, take-no-prisoners concert. The TTs are running on all cylinders, fired up and hitting the road as one of the top independent bands touring today while keeping a strong presence on the music charts. The Music at the Museum Concert Series at the Illinois State Museum presents Wisconsin singer-songwriter Katie Dahl, an insightful writer with an outstanding voice. She makes you think and not think all at the same time, a mighty feat for any artist. Up in Williamsville, the modern, youthful bluegrass quartet Tellico plays the esteemed Paris-Belle House starting at about 7:30.
Congratulations to Lick Creek, finalist performers in the NASH Next band competition held last week in Nashville. They didn’t win the grand prize, but they’re winners to us, and just getting there was a big deal. Keep on keepin’ on
Love your loved ones. You never know when they’ll be gone.