Willi Carlisle is a folksinger who, according to The Washington Post, is “powerful,” “worth seeking out,” and “both down-home and brainy.” With years of collecting folklore, playing or calling square dances, and working in the avant-garde, Willi Carlisle is a multi-faceted writer, folksinger, and instrumentalist.
Carlisle’s musical stories are forged in the fire of Ozark traditionals, cowboy-singers, and oldtimers. His originals and traditionals hoot, stomp, and saunter through joys and troubles uniquely southern and timelessly true. Equally comfortable on banjo, fiddle, accordion and guitar, Carlisle has earned accolades for his versatility with performances at the Ozark Folk Center, the Fayetteville Roots Festival, Thacker Mountain Radio, and sold-out shows at Fringe Festivals across the country, where he has been lauded with awards like “Best Show” (Orlando Fringe) and the “Excellence in Writing” (Portfringe).
While his big frame and expressive voice draw comparison to old balladeers and bluesmen, Willi sings a sort of new-time gospel for the oldest reasons: love, heartache, and joy. People who watch and listen will find that he laughs and sheds a tear onstage almost as often as his audiences do, proof of the fire-and-brimstone power of music passed down for generations.