John Lilly is a multi-faceted performer and songwriter who makes his home in Charleston, West Virginia. An award-winning songwriter, John is also recognized as an accomplished vocalist and song stylist. He accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and mandolin, playing original songs that sound as old as the hills and old songs like they were made yesterday. According to one reviewer, “If Hank Williams had a sunny disposition, he’d be John Lilly.” (Durham, NC, Independent)
Born in Chicago, John has traveled to 48 states, South and Central America, and in the United Kingdom, both as a solo artist and as member of performing groups including the Green Grass Cloggers, Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, Company Comin’, and, most recently, Blue Yonder.
He is especially known for his mastery of the early country music styles of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. John is considered a fine yodeler and frequently teaches workshops in yodeling, as well as workshops in the songs of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. He has been on the teaching staff for Early Country Music Week at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College five times.
In 2005, John won first place in the Ghost Writers in the Sky songwriting competition for songs in the style of Hank Williams, sponsored by Hank Fest, a Chicago-based music festival, for his song “Blue Highway.” In 2010, John won first place in the “Next Great Road Song” competition sponsored by Midas Muffler and Spin! magazine, for his original song “Come and Go.”
John has recorded six solo CDs. His most recent release is titled “Thinking about the Weather,” a solo acoustic recording featuring 12 original songs and released in January 2015. Other solo recordings include “Cold Comfort” (2011), “LIVE on Red Barn Radio” (2009), “Haunted Honky Tonk” (2007), “Last Chance to Dance” (2003) and “Broken Moon” (2000).
In addition to his solo performances and recordings, John appears regularly with the band Blue Yonder, based out of Charleston, West Virginia, featuring two-time national flatpicking guitar champion Robert Shafer and bassist Will Carter. John also produces an annual Hank Williams tribute in Charleston, West Virginia, featuring Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member Kayton Roberts, Grand Ole Opry veterans Buddy Griffin and Roger Carroll, vocalist Rob McNurlin and others.
By day, John is editor of West Virginia’s acclaimed Goldenseal magazine, the state’s quarterly journal of history and traditional life. John is also formerly the publicist for the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, and a former tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.