You’re Lucky If You Live In Wisconsin …

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… Because that’s where Marc “Lil’ Rev” Revenson can usually be found.  The former grade-school music teacher and university lecturer grew up in Milwaukee, where he still lives.  Since 2005 he’s been a full-time traveling singer, songwriter, storyteller and musicologist, entertaining folks at events from big festivals down to small-town library reading rooms.

I was privileged to catch up with Lil’ Rev last night at The Strum Shop in Roseville, CA, where he finished a recent — and all too short — California tour.  I’d first met him a few years ago at the Reno Ukulele Festival, and absolutely loved his shows and workshops.  Last night’s combination event (an hour of fun group ukulele teaching followed by two hours of performance) really brought home what Lil’ Rev does best.  He brings a tremendous amount of love and empathy for his audience, and all of humanity, and one can’t help leaving one of his shows without asking one’s self, “What can I now do to make this world a happier place for someone else?”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Lil’ Rev’s spirituality and inspiration reduces one bit the raucous humor he injects into so many of his stories and songs.  There’s that old movie poster slogan, “You’ll laugh! … You’ll cry! …”  If Lil’ Rev’s show was a movie poster, that’s exactly what it would say.

Check out his website at www.lilrev.com, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find an upcoming performance in a theater near you.  But if you’re out here in California you won’t have to wait too long for another show, IF you are signed up for PlayUke’s great “California Ukulele Academy Mountain Retreat” at the end of May.  Lil’ Rev will be coming back out for that, joining Fred Sokolow as an instructor.  Info at www.playuke.net .