Rowboats cover
"Brian Lillie is a guy who knows how to have fun. This 1998 release should have been reviewed sooner but it got stuck in my car's CD player. Stuck, metaphorically speaking, because I kept taking it with me on trips to the store, to work, and on vacation. This is an immensely fun disc from a singer-songwriter with a great voice and a huge sense of humor. Straddling country, folk, and roots rock, Lillie evokes the likes of Loudon Wainwright III and Steve Goodman, while the Squirrels serve up delicious yet spare orchestrations behind Lillie's voice and guitar."
- ACOUSTIC GUITAR Magazine, April 1999

"Rowboats is such a fine record: one that crawls inside, rooting itself in the very place where music encounters the human spirit. It speaks in empathy from Lillie's experience & perspective, to your own. It is impossible to remain removed."

- CURRENT, November 1997

"This double album is full of the kind of folkified ditties that make you alternately want to get up and dance and sit down and cry, and in the end they play with your emotions just enough to make you love life."

- Detroit MetroTimes, February 1998

"The most impressive part of Brian Lillie's performance is the pleasant smoothness of his vocals. He's not a deliberately affected singer, just a natural one who happens to possess a good bit of charm, sincerity and pleasant tonality in his voice. Over the course of a long recording (fifteen full-length, 3 nugget-length songs), and through a variety of styles all country and folk based at their core, his voice carries enough natural charm to sustain the recording, even if the songs weren't strong; fortunately, the songs are just fine, so the end result is a very satisfying recording which is both fun and sincere."

- Music Reviews Quarterly, Spring 1998

"On his second release, Ann Arbor singer-songwriter Brian Lillie has assembled an outstanding group of musicians to add color and depth to his songs-- Matt Combs' fiddling is especially gorgeous throughout...Lillie is a talented songwriter, never tire or syrupy. 'Hazel's Last Christmas', recorded live with just Lillie on guitar is quite pretty, but it also demonstrates how much the Squirrel Mountain Orchestra expands Lillie's work."

- ETCH Magazine, Summer 1998

"Wonderful blend of folk and rock elements by this young singer/songwriter. A perfect example for all acoustic american folk'n'rock."

- Music Network, Bremen, Germany

Hello and welcome to ROWBOATS, my second album as singer guy and the first to feature the incredible Squirrel Mountain Orchestra. Make yourself at home. You can put your tent up over there by the string section.Second albums are sometimes referred to by smarmy critic-types as the "sophomore slump" record. The wisdom goes that an artist has their whole life to write the first one, and then about six months to write the second, which sometimes leads to bad concept albums about how touring sucks. Other times, the musicians get so intimidated by the daunting task of following up a successful debut, that they'll completely change styles or hire a hot techno whiz-kid to produce them, which mostly leads to commmercial death and slots on late-night infomercials.

We here at Squirrel Mountain Industries are happy to report, however, that we have successfully battled this "slump" curse by recording a delightful collection of pesky little ditties. If this had been released in the 'Vinyl Age' (4000 B.C - 1991 A.D.), it would be presented as a "double album", which meant that the artists in question were either so juiced creatively that they recorded a double-length collection (see "Blonde on Blonde" by Bob Dylan), or they were so mad at their record label that they put out the equivalent of an aural rent part (See "Self Portrait" by the aforementioned Mr. Dylan) In our case, we just plain needed more room to rock. Hello Cleveland!

On behalf of the entire Squirrel Mountain family, we hope you enjoy yourself in our little neck of the woods. Please leave your campsite the way you found it and - HEY you kids, get off the bass player! I mean it! Don't make me come over there! Excuse me, I gotta go pound some heads....

Brian Lillie
Spring 1997

"Rowboats" is dedicated to Lilly

The Songs


Too Early/Too Late


My Strange Love


Grandpa the Flyer



Thimbleful of Oats

Hazel's Last Christmas




Bad Advice

Full Speed Ahead


Best Friends

Four Immeasurables

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Artistic & Technical Credits

ROWBOATS was recorded by...
The amazing Geoff STreadwick at 40 Oz. Sound, Ann Arbor, MI, April-June 1997

 "Hazel's Last Christmas" was recorded...
live at The Gypsy Cafe, Ann Arbor, MI on April 25, 1997, by Kevin Meisel

 "Thimbleful of Oats" was recorded...
in the kitchen and backyard of "Bob Wojahn's Home for Wayward Bachelors".

 The album was produced by Mr. Lillie, Mr. Streadwick, and the Squirrels.
It was mixed by Mr. Streadwick and Mr. Lillie
It was mastered by Chris Gooseman at Solid Sound, Ann Arbor, MI

 Layout, design and cover by Al Smith
Interior photography by Garin Horner
Back cover painting by Julie Lavagnino

 The Squirrel Mountain Orchestra is:
Abby Alwin, Rich Griffith, Brian Lillie, Al Smith, Brian Smith

Without the musical talents of the following adjunct Squirrel Mountaineers, this album never could have happened. I am grateful for their contributions:
Matt Combs, Amrita Abinaya, John Koupal, Acala Devi, Prem Vatul, Jeff Plankenhorn, K.c. Groves, Ben Wilson, Jim Roll, Kevin Meisel, Rollie Tussing III, Bob Wojahn, Janna Dunaj, Devi, Uma, & Greg Hillegas.

Web Editor:  Champagne

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All songs by Brian Lillie, Copyright 1997 Chimp Hammer Family Champion Music, ASCAP, except: "My Strange Love" words by Bradley W. Reynolds Copyright 1997 Bradley W. Reynolds, music by Brian Lillie Copyright 1997 Chimp Hammer Family Champion Music, ASCAP
"A Thimbleful of Oats" - Traditional
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