John Lilly

Last Chance To Dance

Somewhere in my wildest dreams lives a world where the past and the future dance cheek-to-cheek. To embrace either one of these partners, you suddenly find yourself dancing with the other.

This recording is my second humble effort to bring this whirling vision to reality, at least for a few moments.

Let the dance begin!

- John Lilly


CD Reviews for Last Chance to Dance are just a bit farther down the page.

    LAST CHANCE TO DANCE (Click linked title to hear an MP3 song sample
  14. BLUE BOY

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Last Chance to Dance #1 on Freeform American Roots Chart for September 2003

Last Chance to Dance is #4 on the Euro-Americana Chart for October 2003

Reviews for Last Chance to Dance

John Lilly really doesn’t have the looks or the youth to become famous, even though that ought to happen just because of his music. Whatever! John Lilly makes very intimate music which gives you the feeling that he’s sitting down to make music with a few friends just for you in your living room, and you certainly don’t want to share that kind of music with all too many people. Comfort music in the best sense.

Before you start thinking that John Lilly has a kind of revolving-door quality, we have to make it clear that we are dealing here with one of the most beautiful CD’s we’ve had our hands on in the past half-year – and that says a lot. Lilly sings songs and accompanies himself on the guitar – and sometimes on the mandolin and the bass. He gets a few guests involved, such as Ginny Hawker who sings a superb second voice on four numbers, Sonny Landreth who slips in really nicely with a slide guitar on a couple of numbers, and Buddy Griffin who once again plays the fiddle very cautiously but really well. Everything is very modest, but solid at the same time. Superb guitar playing, a beautiful singing voice with which he produces a very easy sound, and a repertoire which consists of his own lovely songs for the most part and partly also of classics, for example, by Jimmy Rodgers and Hank Williams.

Lilly knows how to create the atmosphere of the 30’s so well that a number like “Gasoline Alley” by Rod Stewart becomes a timeless song in his hands, almost takes on a traditional sound. But it’s also true that we are absolutely not dealing with dreamy retro-music here, but rather with someone who loves to make modest music which has you always sitting on the edge of your chair. Ballads, sad songs, happy songs, and just plain beautiful songs alternate, and at the end you notice that you’ve been enjoying this with a broad grin on your face.

John Lilly has already been active in music for a fairly long time, but he brought out his first solo album just three years ago, and his second last year. Both CD’s are highly recommended, and the best way to order them is on John Lilly’s website – you’ll find the links you need there. We’ve noted here before that small independent music labels do a lot of good work, but sometimes it’s even much simpler. John Lilly has brought out both of his CD’s on his own. We think that’s one more reason to order a CD from the man. You won’t be sorry you did.

Moors Magazine

March 2007

I got lucky a few months ago – I met John Lilly. After one of my shows, he and I met up at a friend’s house in Charleston, WV. I’m not sure how long John and I played that night in that basement. I just remember it being a bona fide hoot. And sure, I can draw the same analogies as other folks to John’s sound – that it conjures up the ghosts of Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, but there’s much more to John’s music.

Indeed, his CD “Last Chance to Dance” has a definite old-time country feel to it, but it’s a bit deeper and broader than that. Honoring tradition, but providing fresh air and takes on things calls for rare talent, and John has an ample supply. Listening to the disc transports me to another era – an era of simpler times where I’d hope that all you needed from a man was his word – where you looked a man in the eye, and you learned all you needed to know about him. I’d like to live in that time and place. The closest I’ll come to it, though, is by listening to John Lilly.

Pops Walker
Luray, Virginia


Last Chance to Dance by John Lilly Customer Review

Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars

5 out of 5 starsBest-kept American roots musical secret? , November 21, 2003

Only the vagaries of American corporate music can explain why you don't already know this CD by heart. "Last Chance to Dance" debuted at #1 in September 2003 on the Freeform American Roots chart (where the DJ's choose their favorite new roots releases) and it's easy to hear why. On it, John Lilly sets out to honor and contribute to the great tradition of American folk dance - and he does - but he can't help but veer back into the dark and lonesome territory that made 2000's "Broken Moon" such a stunning solo debut. On the new album, however, he demonstrates the full range of his talent as instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, and interpreter of the American folk tradition, exploring not only his previous themes of love, heartbreak and redemption, but also traditional country themes of home, the loss of family, and growing older. It's a tribute to his talent that all this adds up to a diverse and, yes, upbeat collection of music.

His spare and clean instrumental performances on guitar, mandolin and bass, are outstanding, as before, with an even greater diversity of styles; so are the lead and harmony vocals. But while the earlier album gave only a tantalizing sample of what he can do as a songwriter, LCTD really shines as a songwriting showcase. Of special note are the opening track, "Whodunnit?" which gives the appearance of a throwaway novelty number, but which in fact is an intense musical and lyrical display of jealousy and suspicion, and "Blue Boy", which is in the great tradition of the country torch song, and deserves to become a standard.

Other favorite cuts are the two great yodeling songs, Jimmie Rodgers' "No Hard Times" and Lilly's own comic original "A Little Yodel Goes a Long Way" (recorded live), great examples of the American country yodeling tradition. (See also his performance of Hank Williams' "Pan American" on "Southern Ramble" by Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers.) The world-weary and fervid arrangement and performance of the traditional "Long Time Traveling" are also haunting and memorable, as is the Hazel Dickens' classic, "Coal Miner's Grave". The title song and "Good News, Bad News" are some other engaging cuts, but really, there are too many to name: listen and pick your own favorites!

Appearing again on this CD are the same group of collaborators who made "Broken Moon" so memorable: the great Ginny Hawker on harmony vocals, Buddy Griffin on fiddle (who ranges from the heartbreaking to the sardonic), with the addition of Sonny Landreth on slide guitar. David O'Dell returns, this time providing some great banjo as well as doing the recording and mixing.

This album should be of great interest not only to American roots music purists, who are looking for the next Gillian Welch or Iris DeMent, but also to those fans of contemporary country and folk songwriter/performers such as Robbie Fulks and Fred Eaglesmith. However, I am reminded as well of many older country and folk-based performers: not only the obvious influences of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, but also the subsequent generation of writer/performers such as John Prine and Steve Goodman, who are both whimsical and profound. In addition, fans of Richard Thompson will admire both Lilly's instrumental virtuosity and the intensity and humor with which he plumbs old genres and makes them new. Once again, a must-have!

Last Chance to Dance by John Lilly

Sing Out! Vol. 47 #4 Winter 2004

It's been three long years since John Lilly released a CD. However, like anything beautifully crafted, this album is well worth waiting for.

In 2000, Lilly's Broken Moon , featuring Ginny Hawker's harmonies, was released to general acclaim. Here, a powerhouse of superb session musicians accompany Lilly, with Hawker providing harmony on four tracks.

With a voice that sounds like it could have belonged to several country greats, Lilly's singing is in no way mannered like those who try imitating various personalities in songs. Here, instead, we have a masterly musician with a naturally honky-tonkin' voice used judiciously and to great effect in crafting a unique style. In no way are these songs note-for-note lifts from their original performers, but they're all so well done that most listeners will be disappointed when the CD ends.

Fully half the songs on this 14-track recording were written by Lilly. These may have been written with apparently simple swing or honky-tonk tunes, but the sometimes-complex arrangements tell us that Lilly knows exactly what he's doing. Six of the other seven are fairly well known traditional and country songs. One very unusual inclusion is Lilly's cover of Rod Stewart's “Gasoline Alley.” With its Hank-like vocal and masterly mandolin, it may well deserve a place on that short list of “better than the original” recordings.

Lilly's songs appear as simple as Hank Williams' and, like Hank's, have a propensity for ingratiating themselves on first or second hearing – instant classics. The opening number, “Whodunit? (Who Stole Your Heart Away?),” should soon become the backdrop for the next lonely Saturday night.

All in all, John Lilly's second CD is a worthy follow-up to Broken Moon and tells us that he's a performer with talent, heart, and an uncanny ability to extend the country music metaphor to include contemporary sentiments. Highly recommended. - MC


John Lilly  “Last Chance to Dance”

“A wonderful mix of old-time ballads, early country, and original songs that sound and feel as old as the early ones. The musicianship is as good as you'll hear anywhere – the lead and harmony vocals are among the best I have ever heard. The yodeling on “No Hard Times” would make Jimmie Rodgers proud. “Last Chance to Dance” reminded me of early rockabilly Sun Records recordings – it's great. Wonderful compilation of music. The guitar accompaniment on the ballads shows great feeling and only enhances the words. I could go on, but this is an exceptional recording of the old, not so old, and new.

— John Blisard, Jurying Evaluation/ September 1, 2003

Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia (retail store), Beckley, West Virginia

What they're saying about. "Last Chance to Dance"

· "Taps the essence of Americana" - Jenny Haubenreiser/KGLT/Bozeman, MT

· "I can't believe how great this is!" - Paul Hitchcock/WMKY/Morehead, KY

· "Nice to hear something so fresh, yet so familiar" - David Obermann/KUT/Austin, TX

· "Touches you like a freight train. A pure gem" - James Eoppolo/WXTU/Philadelphia, PA

· "Has a certain drive I look for in music" - Michael Dixon/WRBC/Lewiston, ME

· "Cultural concentrate with an emotional sauce" - Mike Penard/ISA Radio/Milieu, France

· "At times I really thought it was Hank or Willie singing. This guy is THAT GOOD!" - Harris/Customer review/