Music for Presidents' Day

Abraham Lincoln in Song
Gin Ridge Music 1009

Christmas, New Year’s, Passover, the Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, Labor Day—they all have song repertoires, but where’s the love for Presidents’ Day? Now that there’s another Illini in the White House it’s time to resurrect the 2007 release Abraham Lincoln in Song. Illinois-based singer and guitar wizard Chris Vallillo avoids the modern folk music conceit of jettisoning tradition in the name of hipness. He skillfully chronicles the Civil War era and explores its diversity on thirteen tracks and in succinct liner notes. We hear songs of Lincoln’s youth (“El-a-Noy),” ballyhooed campaign odes (“Lincoln and Liberty”), tales from the Underground Railroad (“Nellie Gray”), mid-battle love songs (“Lorena” and “Aura Lee”), stirring martial music (“Battle Cry of Freedom”), and mournful offerings such as “Lincoln’s Funeral Train.” Okay, so maybe Stephen Foster never envisioned “Hard Times Come Again No More” on a Nashville steel guitar, but I think he would have approved.

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