September 13, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 37

Musician to conjure up Hank, Merle

West Virginia singer, songwriter and guitarist John Lilly will perform “new songs with an old soul” 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Chilkat Center. The concert is sponsored by the Haines Arts Council.

“He does a really great mix of originals and roots music, and country folk stuff,” said Haines Arts Council President Tom Heywood. “And he’s good at connecting with the audience.”

Lilly has won impressive songwriting awards, Heywood said. “He’s got great songs and some clever lyrics.”

Lilly has performed solo and in bluegrass and other groups. According to his website, Lilly performs classic country music hits, including “hidden masterpieces” by Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Louvin Brothers.

He also plays “ancient folk ballads and creative original songs.”

Lilly has released six, self-produced CDs. His latest, “Cold Comfort,” debuted at the #1 position on the Freeform American Root (FAR) radio chart and features guest artists Bill Kirchen, Sonny Landreth and Tim O’Brien, according to his website.

“Haunted Honky Tonk” achieved the #1 position on both the Freeform American Roots (FAR) and the Euro Americana radio charts in 2007. Bluegrass Unlimited magazine called Lilly’s 2002 “Broken Moon” release one of the “most unusual and interesting acoustic discs of the year.”

His 2005 CD “Blue Highway” is a collaboration with legendary Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard.

Lilly has been recognized internationally. He was the winner of the 2010 “Next Great Road Song” contest, sponsored by Midas and Spin. His song “Come and Go” placed first in the acoustic category, out of more than 1,200 entries.

In 2005, won a customized guitar after his song “Blue Highway” took top honors in the national Ghost Writers In the Sky songwriting contest, sponsored by HankFest, a Chicago-based festival honoring the music of Hank Williams. He was a finalist in the 2002 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, N.C. chosen from 853 entries, placing third in the country category for his song “Broken Moon.”

He performed in 2008 and 2010 on the National Public Radio show “Mountain Stage.”

Lilly has made three tours of Scotland and visited 48 states.

A former member of the Green Grass Cloggers dance team, he has played music with groups including Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers. He is a former a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

The Haines Arts Council’s next show will feature singer and songwriter Tracy Spring of Bellingham, Wash. on Sept. 29. Spring’s family lived in Haines briefly and she once was a member of the Chilkat Dancers.