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Linda Beierle Bullen


Songs of history and struggle at Pullman

Historic site hosts April 5 concert of folk and roots music that tells stories of Illinois workers

CHICAGO – An important site in the history of American labor will play host April 5 to a performance of folk and roots music exploring the lives of Illinois workers.
The Pullman State Historic Site welcomes Chris Vallillo and Bucky Halker for the free concert at 3 p.m. It follows a 1:30 tour of the site led by the president of the Illinois Labor History Society. Refreshments will be available.
George Pullman’s 1881 factory site provides a perfect location for the concert, both historically and musically. It produced luxurious and unique train cars for a century, was the focus of a national labor crisis and led to the creation of the country’s first major African-American labor union. The soaring structures also provide excellent acoustics and space for performances.
Vallillo and Halker are nationally acclaimed folk musicians with deep connections to the important stories told at Pullman.
Performing on six-string and bottleneck slide guitars and harmonica, Vallillo weaves original and traditional songs into a compelling portrait of the Midwest. He recently completed a second term as the Illinois State Scholar for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit on roots music, “New Harmonies.” In 2013 he released his latest CD, “The Last Day of Winter,” and produced the double-CD set “Midwest Folklife Festival” for the Illinois Arts Council.
Halker has been playing guitar and performing since he was a teenager. A prominent scholar of working-class history, Halker wrote “For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest 1865-1895” (University of Illinois Press, 1991) and was the scholar-producer of “Folksongs of Illinois,” a four-CD series that documents the rich, diverse musical heritage of Illinois.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s public programs not only celebrate the history of the Pullman site in song and drama but provide cultural opportunities for Chicago’s underserved far South Side. This program is supported by the Illinois Arts Council Agency and Friends of the Pullman State Historic Site.
The Pullman Factory is located at 11057 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago.  Travel Info: I-94 to Exit 66A, West on 111th St. or Metra from Millennium Station to 111th St. Free on-site parking is available.
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