Music

Fulks brings folk style to Opera House performance

Robbie Fulks arrives at the 59th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Robbie Fulks arrives at the 59th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Robbie Fulks moved to Chicago in the 1980s with hopes for a career in music.  

Now with 13 albums and two recent Grammy nominations, there’s no doubt he succeeded.

Last performing at the Woodstock Opera House in the 1980s with his bluegrass band at the time, Greg Cahill’s Special Consensus, he’ll return as headliner for an 8 p.m. concert on Friday.

Joining him will be Don Stiernberg on the mandolin, Robbie Gjersoe on resonator guitar and Larry Kohut on bass. 

The concert is part of a weekend-long celebration of music in collaboration with the July 21 Woodstock Folk Festival on the Woodstock Square. 

Tickets cost $23 at woodstockoperahouse.com, 815-338-5300 or at the Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock.

Fulks has heard his music described as “sort of country music for people who don’t like country music.”

He’s not quite sure what that means, but said, “If you do like country music, you’ll like my show. If you don’t like it, you still might like it because I’m a good perform, and I say funny s – between the songs.”

Fulks, a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer and composer, likes to engage with his audience as his music tells stories. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina, he said he was surrounded by bluegrass music. He’d work out harmonies with his parents, also musicians. 

“There’s a natural way to imbibe Appalachian music when you’re down there [in the south],” he said. 

His lyrics reflect his experiences growing up in the south and traveling around America, he said. 

Along with bluegrass and country, his music has traces of jazz and pop and “whatever suits my fancy,” he said. 

Known for the hit song, “Let’s Kill Saturday Night,” Fulks released the album, “Upland Stories,” in 2017.

The album earned year’s-best recognition from NPR and Rolling Stone, among others, and two Grammy nominations for folk album and American roots song (“Alabama At Night”). 

Fulks has been performing his music since 1986, making his first album with Greg Cahill’s Special Consensus Bluegrass Band, “Hole in My Heart,” in 1989. He toured heavily with the band for years.  

The recent Grammy nominations kind of feel like a capstone to his career, he said. 

“It’s great to have a little recognition,” he said. “It does make the whole enterprise feel a little more legitimate.”

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