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Lansing’s Brian Grilli on playing Autumn Fest 2019

Friday, October 11, 7:30pm

by Jamilyn Hiskes

LANSING, Ill. (October 10, 2019) – Indie songwriter Brian Grilli feels so attached to Lansing that he not only wrote a song about it, but made a music video in 2016 as a tribute to the town he grew up in. This weekend, after seeing his music climb on the Billboard charts when he released his 2018 album “Deep South Symphony,” Grilli is coming home again to play at Lansing’s 2019 Autumn Fest.

“I’m hoping that a lot of people show up,” Grilli said with a laugh. “I love seeing people. I’ve played Kilroy’s a couple times, and we had a great turnout there.”

Back home

Grilli, now living in Virginia Beach, Va., said he likes coming back to Lansing a couple times a year to visit family in the area. He said he always tries to hit his favorite haunts while he’s in town, which means grabbing a bite at Boz Hot Dogs (2513 Ridge Rd.), stopping for ice cream at Gayety’s (3306 Ridge Rd.) and sometimes even having a beer or two at Kilroy’s (3502 Ridge Rd.).

While changes have come to Lansing in the years since he grew up and worked his first job as a stocker at Santori’s Liquors (3529 Ridge Rd.), Grilli said there’s still a small-town feel and a familiarity he loves about his hometown. He experienced those changes first-hand when he visited for the first time in several years before writing his tribute to Lansing, “My Hometown.”

“It was kind of cool to come back because even with a lot of change, there was a lot that stayed the same as well,” Grilli said. “It was almost a little surreal. When I got home [to Virginia Beach] … I sat down one day and wrote the song. I co-wrote it with Mitch Malloy [of the rock bands Van Halen and Great White], and he kind of helped bring it to life.”

Climbing the charts

While “Deep South Symphony” did well on the Billboard Country Album Sales charts, Grilli said he would describe his music as more Americana or southern rock to someone who’s never heard it before. When asked if he still gets blown away hearing his own music on the radio, Grilli said he still loves that, but admitted to being more shocked watching “Deep South Symphony” climb on the Billboard charts in 2018.

“The band I was in in the late 90s and early 2000s, we were on the radio, so I guess the luster kind of wore off a little,” he said. “When I hit Billboard, however, that was a completely different thing. That was like a ‘holy mackerel’ reaction. Seeing [my album] in the magazine was unreal.”

What affects Grilli the most, however, is hearing how his songs have affected others.

“I just found out the other day that a couple…walked out of their wedding to one of my songs,” he said. “I think hearing that type of stuff is more gratifying than any Billboard or any radio play. Hearing stories about how your songs affected somebody or how they can relate your songs to an experience—those are the things that blow my mind more than any accolades.”

Playing Fox Pointe

Grilli said he’s performed at other venues around Lansing, but he’s excited to play the Fox Pointe stage for the first time. He said it’s his way of giving back to the village that’s done so much for him.

“I just like giving as much support as I can,” Grilli said. “It’s always fun going home.”

Autumn Fest will go on 4 p.m.-11p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13. Even though the weather forecast looks dismal for the weekend of Autumn Fest, the Lansing Journal encourages the community to still brave the elements and come out to support not only Fox Pointe, but one of Lansing’s most charming hometown stars.

To learn more about Brian Grilli, visit

Fox Pointe is located at 18138 Henry Street in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Jamilyn Hiskes
Jamilyn Hiskes
Jamilyn Hiskes is a Loyola University Chicago School of Communications graduate and experienced journalist who enjoys writing stories about people, entertainment, and politics. She’s new to Lansing, but that only makes her more eager to learn about the town through her reporting for The Lansing Journal.