Brian Lillie is a folksinger from Ann Arbor, Michigan who has been playing guitar and writing songs for over half of his thirty years on the planet. He has performed in everything from loud, weird rock bands to sufi-inspired dance groups, but his first love has always been simple, heart-felt acoustic music.
It was the discovery (and subsequent robbery) of his uncle's collection of Dylan records at age twelve that started Brian on the road to being a musician. All through junior high, high school and college, he wrote and recorded songs on equipment ranging from half-dead Radio Shack tape recorders to 24-track studios. He helped form a long running alternative band called The Maitries who toured the Midwest a few times and put out one album called Death Fliphead Monkey Boy (!). When the Maitries finally disbanded, he decided to jump headlong into pursuing his original dream of being a folk guy.
It has been quite an adventure ever since for Lillie. In 1995, he released Waking Up in Traffic, his debut CD on Thursday Records, a small folk label he founded in Ann Arbor.
Brian was one of fifteen writers from around the U.S. chosen to attend ASCAP's prestigious Lester Sill Songwriting Workshop in Los Angeles. He became a founding member of The Michigan Artists Music Alliance (MAMA), the official Folk Alliance affiliate of Michigan. He has been playing around Michigan and Ohio to growing audiences and rave reviews at places like The Ark and the Gypsy Cafe, opening for (most notably) Gillian Welch and Jim Infantino.
Recently, he started a full fledged acoustic band called The Squirrel Mountain Orchestra who have been playing sold-out shows in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area.Brian and the Squirrel Mountain Orchestra recently released Rowboats.
"...As the name suggests, the Squirrel Mountain Orchestra has a shuffling, leaping but lush Americana feel, as danceable as swing, as meditative as a prayer. A month ago I was lucky enough to hear Lillie play all but solo. His songs struck me for their freshness, the swaddled warmth and openness-to-life of a young Alex Chilton or Matthew Sweet, Beatle-pop-based in their melodies but often extending into redolent autobiographical narratives."
- RIVER FRONT TIMES, St. Louis, November 1998