LilFest is a presenter of deeply rooted songs and stories of passion and power in many different genre’s at many different venues in three states: Illinois, Iowa and New York — from private parties to SPACE and the Orrington Hotel in Evanston to Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, KVCC in Keene Valley, the Meadowbrook Gazebo in Mt. Vernon, International and Regional Folk Alliance Conferences in Memphis, Nashville, Toronto, Montreal, Austin, and many more.
A veteran of 10 years of house concerts, 5 years of LilFest Festival and a long-running weekly series at Bill’s Blues in Evanston, LilFest matches performers with individual parties and celebration events, and is also available to consult on music needs for film, radio and theater.
Beginning with piano music performances at four, founder Nancy Emrich Freeman took her elementary school lessons in piano, flute and string bass deep into her heart. Supported by genes from pianists and opera lovers, a gift for selling girl scout cookies and raising money by phone, and some skill at herding cats Nancy accepted large band tour booking and management responsibilities while in college.
When a Kay double bass magically appeared during her decade serving as Director of Admissions of a girls’ boarding school in her twenties, she was launched on a 20-year career in school musical orchestra pits! The music revolution came, however when Nancy’s seven year old son said “I have to play electric guitar!” One fateful New Year’s Eve visit to a guitar store yielded two Stratocasters, one Fender electric bass and an acoustic guitar.
The family Emrich played and sang together in the Beatles Ensemble of the Old Town School of Folk Music. And in no time, managing bands, tour managing, a house concert series, a weekly venue folk series and a festival blossomed from the rich loam of the Chicago music community and Nancy’s unique empressario nature, not-for-profit management consulting skills, MBA work, creativity and experience.
“Her name was McGill, she called herself “Lil.” But everyone knew her as Nancy.” LilFest was born.