Since his first solo concert in 1996, Fred Gillen Jr has traveled all over the U.S. and Europe singing his songs of hope and struggle at all types of venues, building a devoted following along the way. He feels at home performing at any type and size of venue, from a "house concert" in Indiana to Irving Plaza in New York City, to the main stages of festivals, and everything in between. He has played at many prestigious and famous venues, and as many farmers markets, coffeehouses, pubs, and union rallies. With his sometimes partner Matt Turk he played for several years in the New York City subways as part of the MUNY (Music Under NY) program. At every performance he opens his heart and pours out the unglamorous but compelling tales of the marginalized and forgotten. His songs have often been described as both painfully intimate and universal, and this is what he strives for in writing them. His live performances are spontaneous celebrations of all that it is to be human; the joy and the pain, the comedy and the tragedy.
Gillen's work has received its share of critical acclaim and commercial exposure. He has had songs on network TV on ABC's All My Children and MSG Network's NYC Soundtracks, and he was awarded a NYFA (N.Y. Foundation For The Arts) grant to help cover expenses for his first European tour. In 2008 his song Fall Down was featured on the CMJ Music Marathon sampler CD, given to 11,000 CMJ conference attendees and radio programmers. In the late 1990's and 2000's when he was still primarily a regional artist, he was voted "best folk artist" for three straight years in Westchester Weekly, his local A&E paper. He also served his local community as President of non-profit music organization Tribes Hill for three years, and is currently on that organization's board. Hope Machine, the traveling hootenanny that he is a founding member of, is an "official program" of the Woody Guthrie Foundation & Archives, and a song from their debut CD March was included in Folk Alliance's War And Politics Compilation CD in 2011. Most recently Gillen's version of Woody Guthrie's song "I Ain't Got No Home" appears on Pete Seeger's "Pete Remembers Woody" CD, which was released in September.
Gillen is a prolific songwriter, recording artist, and producer. From 1997 to the present he has released eight independent studio solo albums, one live album, two albums with Hope Machine, and one as half of the duo "Gillen & Turk," all to substantial critical acclaim. His music has also been played on independent, commercial, public, and college radio all over the world. In 2010 two of his songs were recorded by Hudson Valley band The Yayas. As a producer he has about thirty records credited to him in the past five years, and his studio "Woody's House" is a busy hub of Hudson Valley creativity. His own latest album, Silence Of The Night brings him back slightly to his rock roots, while also retaining a folky message and delivery. Sixteen tracks long, it features his first spoken-word piece on record in ten years and his first instrumental in sixteen years! The new record, while being truly an "album" and not a collection of singles, dips a big, colorful bucket into the wellspring of American music, touching on folk, Americana, rock, roots, and even funk. One of its songs This Old Car was featured, before its official release, on the NPR syndicated show "Car Talk." Gillen will be touring constantly in 2012 and 2013 promoting the new album.