John Lilly

John Lilly

 Charleston, West Virginia, USA

Solo acoustic guy with killer songs and a strong sense of roots. Each show includes captivating originals, a few time-honored gems, stellar picking, some laughs, some history, and a little yodeling. According to one reviewer, "If Hank Williams had a sunny disposition, he'd be John Lilly."


John Lilly is a multi-talented acoustic music performer from Charleston, West Virginia, specializing in Americana, country roots, and traditional folk music. He writes new songs that sound as old as the hills, and performs older songs like they were made yesterday. According to one reviewer, “If Hank Williams had a sunny disposition, he’d be John Lilly.”

Recognized widely as a powerful performing songwriter, John is the 2010 acoustic winner of the "Next Great Road Song" contest, sponsored my Midas and Spin for his original song "Come and Go." In 2005, he won the national Ghost Writers In the Sky songwriting contest, sponsored by HankFest, a Chicago-based festival honoring the music of Hank Williams. John won a customized guitar for his original song “Blue Highway.” He was a finalist in the 2002 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, chosen from 853 entries and placing third in the Country category for his song "Broken Moon." John Lilly’s 2008 Mountain Stage radio performance is available at NPR Music. He has traveled extensively, including 48 states and three tours of Scotland.

John has released six self-produced CDs. Both "Cold Comfort" and “Haunted Honky Tonk” achieved the #1 position on the Freeform American Roots (FAR) chart and top 5 in the Euro Americana radio charts. “Broken Moon,” released in 2000, earned enthusiastic reviews and widespread radio airplay. Bluegrass Unlimited magazine called it one of the “most unusual and interesting acoustic disks of the year.” John’s second CD, “Last Chance to Dance,” released in 2003, debuted at #1 on the FAR radio chart and rose to #4 on the Euro Americana radio chart. His 2005 CD release, “Blue Highway,” is a collaboration with legendary Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard. "John Lilly Live on Red Barn Radio," released in 2010, features Lilly in an intimate solo setting.

John is a former member of the Green Grass Cloggers dance team. He spent years playing traditional string band music with groups including Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, is a former a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, and is currently editor of West Virginia’s Goldenseal magazine.


Tore Up from the Floor Up

Written By: John Lilly

Tore Up (from the Floor Up)
By John Lilly

Good to see you, baby,
Yeah, I’ve been doing fine;
‘Cept I can’t sleep and I can’t eat
And I stay drunk all the time.

I’m beat up from my feet up,
Heartbroke, black and blue;
I’m tore up from the floor up,
All on account of you.

Since you quit me, baby,
Gone and set me free;
All of my bad habits
Done got the best of me.


Called in sick on Monday,
Tuesday I was late;
Came home early Wednesday
‘Cause I could not concentrate.


Take me back, baby,
Give me one more try;
See if you can’t love me
Once more before I die.

to CHORUS (2x)
© 2009 by John Lilly
P.O. Box 5402
Charleston, WV 25361


CD "Cold Comfort" (2011)
CD "John Lilly Live on Red Barn Radio" (2010)
CD "Haunted Honky Tonk" (2007)
CD "Last Chance to Dance" (2005)
CD "Blue Highway" w/Ralph Blizard (2003)
CD "Broken Moon" (2000)

On NPR Music/Mountain Stage at

Song "Explosion in the Fairmount Mines" on CD "Always Lift Him Up: A Tribute to Blind Alfred Reed" (2006) plus YouTube video

Set List

My sets vary in length and content depending on the situation. I can perform a full night of original music, do a two-hour Hank Williams Tribute (with band), or present a complete set of Jimmie Rodgers songs and other early country music.

Most shows, I emphasize my original songs, do one or two Hank or Jimmie numbers, pick some traditional instrumentals on the mandolin, tell a few stories, and do a little yodeling.

A typical set might look like this:

Good News/Bad News (JL)
This Old Knife (JL)
Who Broke the DJs Heart? (JL)
Whipping That Old TB (Jimmie Rodgers)
Big Foot Stole My Baby (JL)
Bohemian Boys (JL)
Long Gone Lonesome Blues (Hank Williams)
Gasoline Alley on mandolin (Rod Stewart)
Dance Tune Medley on mandolin (trad)
Blue Highway (JL)
Spirit Bend Close to Me (JL, Ralph Blizard)
A Little Yodel Goes a Long Way (JL)