Listed below are descriptions of some of the artists that will be performing at the Bishop Hill Folk Festival on July 30 and 31.  If you would like more details about this free event organized in part by the BHHA, then please click on the following link:


Artists Bios:

Paul Wilson and Mary Abendrothpm2013

Paul Wilson and Mary Abendroth are a husband and wife team from Brainerd, Mn. that has spent their lives exploring the folk arts and culture of their Scandinavian forebearers.  Paul sings and plays the two-row button accordion, fiddle, guitar and pump organ.  Mary sings and plays pump organ and guitar.  The two present songs in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, English and “Swinglish” and provide translations and historical context for their songs.


bohola instrument playing closeupIrish music’s accordion virtuoso Jimmy Keane and the remarkable bouzar player and vocalist Pat Broaders, comprise bohola, Irish music’s newest “supergroup” as penned by The Irish Herald. bohola play a driving, muscular, and yet very emotive style of Irish music with deep roots in the ‘pure drop’ tradition, infused with the raw and gritty urbanized musical vernacular of the Irish and Irish-American experience.

bohola’s debut album is championed by the Irish Voice as “one of the most impressive debut recordings ever by an Irish traditional music group.” The Courier News added, “Though most of the tunes bohola plays are well over 150 years old, the music comes across more vibrant than the moribund sounds of much of today’s alternative rock.

Joel Mabus   joel mabus with banjo 300 dpi - credit Dick Ainsworth 11by10

Joel Mabus is one of contemporary folk music’s most eclectic performers. A skilled guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin player and melodic songwriter, Mabus has played everything from traditional folk tunes to bluegrass, blues, and original songs.  When Joel’s parents came of age in the 1930’s, they took their old-time farm-grown music on the road with other family members as “hillbilly” entertainers, barnstorming the Midwest in medicine shows, small-town radio programs as well as their long-standing job performing road shows for the WLS Barn Dance.

This pedigree was not lost on Joel as a child in the 1960’s. The family mandolin was his first calling, quickly adding banjo, guitar and fiddle.  Mabus remains a one-off, walking that lonesome valley, making and marking his way as a working artist outside the confines of the usual music business.

Los Condenados Haustecos


Los Condenados Huastecos (the condemned huastecos) are a Chicago-based trio that specializes in the son huasteco music of Mexico’s central gulf coast region. A variant of Mexican son-one of the country’s most emblematic traditional music-types-the huasteco style is distinguished by its virtuosic fiddle playing, canorous falsetto singing, and poetic improvisation. With parallel interests in bridging grassroots  connections between the arts and local Latina/o communities, Los Condenados Huastecos have performed at cultural and educational events in the Chicago area, northern Indiana, and central Illinois.

Chicago Spelmanslag        11825121_10153056975008441_2884278991454435004_n

Chicago Spelmanslag’s name comes from a traditional custom common throughout the Scandinavian countries, whereby each town would have its own local band consisting of that town’s musicians, who would come together to provide the music for the region’s dance parties and special events.

While the musicians are primarily folk fiddlers from throughout the Chicago area, they incorporate a variety of other instruments, including the nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle), hardingfele (Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, incorporating ‘sympathetic’ under-strings), tussefløyte (Norwegian recorder), and munnharpa (jawharp).

 Volo Bogtrotters


The Volo Bogtrotters are an old-time American string band, based in the Chicago area, that played songs and tunes from the string bands of the 1920s and fiddle music from the Midwest, as well as from other new and traditional sources. The band was together from about 1984 to around 2002 and during that period made four recordings on the Marimac Label. They played at many music festivals and traditional dance venues and were known for their driving twin fiddle sound and old songs gleaned from 78 rpm recordings. They are re-grouping for the Bishop Hill Festival performance.

Holy Cross Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble      dsc_0197-small

The Marimba Ensemble has been a sign of neighborhood hope for over 19 years. The Ensemble’s repertoire includes a wide variety of Mexican, Caribbean, popular, and intricate classical pieces.  The marimba itself is a keyboard percussion instrument, similar to a xylophone, originating in southern Mexico and Central America. The large size (some over four octaves) allows up to four “marimbistas” to play together on one instrument. For youth, this is a wonderful experience of learning to work together. The music is augmented by bass guitar and other percussion instruments.

Chris Vallillo with Rocky Maffit

Image 3Chris Vallillo is a singer/songwriter and folk musician who makes the people and places of “unmetropolitan” America come to life in song. Having spent the last 30 years in the rural Midwest, he has a natural affinity for American roots music.  Performing on six-string and bottleneck slide guitars, Vallillo weaves original, contemporary, and traditional songs and narratives into a compelling and entertaining portrait of the history and lifestyles of the Midwest. He’s joined by Grammy nominated percussionist and vocalist Rocky Maffit.

Nordland Band

hd edit 2 crop 28jul12 MG_8790 web 217 px hNordland Band’s warm sound starts with violin, mandolin, guitar, wooden flute, and vocals, drums, acoustic bass and trumpet. Repertoire is carefully chosen from folk pieces, popular music, and the band’s own compositions which live within the folk tradition. Jutta Distler, the leader, researches most of the music during visits to her musician family in Sweden and Denmark.  Since its inception in 1990, the Nordland Band been invited to perform for the Royal Danish Consulate, at the Winnipeg and the Earth Song Folk Festivals in Canada, Michigan’s Spirits of the Woods Folk Fest and  the University of Michigan’s Folk Life Fest

Catfish Keith Keith looking up at Bunker Mill by Penny Cahill

Catfish Keith has established himself as one of the most exciting country blues performers of our time. Catfish’s innovative style of foot-stomping, deep delta blues and American roots music has spellbound audiences the world over. He has reinvented the guitar with great power and artistry, and brings a rare beauty and vitality to his music. Handing down the tradition, Catfish continues his lifelong journey as one of the brightest lights in acoustic blues and roots music.

Bill Robinson and Friends

Bill RobinsonBill Robinson is a third generation player beginning with his paternal grandmother, Emma Van Fossen [1868-1944], who taught his dad, Ross Robinson [1900-1976], who in turn taught Bill. His daughter, Monica, is now carrying on the tradition as well.  The Robinson’s have been known as musicians and entertainers throughout West Central Illinois for several generations. Schuyler county courthouse records in Rushville, Illinois mention the music performed by my ancestors.

Bill is a recipient of the North American Country Music Association’s 2003 “Little Jimmy Dempsey” Award for Outstanding Instrumentalist Achievement and the 2003-2005 Instrumentalist of the Year for Bluegrass