KC’s Tim Lockman: Curiosity and persistence in work and play

December 15, 2016 GMT

Tim Lockman makes beautiful music. His guitar playing is clean, meticulous and resonates with emotion. He draws inspiration from a gallery of acoustic guitar heroes: Martin Simpson, Ed Gerhard, Richard Thompson and host of others, including his father.

He released his first full-length CD, “Castles in the Snow,” this year. He is driven to push his artistry forward by curiosity and persistence … the same qualities he encourages in the students he assists every day at Kishwaukee College where he is a reference librarian.

Lockman’s journey to becoming a reference librarian was not an intentional one. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Eastern Illinois University and, with no defined goal, realized that he enjoyed research and libraries, so he enrolled in the Master’s in Library and Information Science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After a semester, he returned home.

“My dad was ill so I came back to the area and got a job at Kish as the public support library assistant,” he said. “I took a year off school but later finished my MLIS online.”

Lockman learned to play guitar from his father.

“My dad was a singer and guitar player, mostly in the southern gospel style,” he said. “When I was about 15, he showed me a few chords. Then I took lessons for several months and learned a bit of music reading. When I was in college, I took classical guitar lessons and that made me more confident and taught me to pay attention to technique and things like posture.”

He toyed around with playing jazz with a friend and listened to a lot of guitar players. A lot of guitar players.

“Martin Simpson is a British folk guitarist who I listen to,” he said. “He talks about how he learned to play like a singer. Make the notes count. That’s something I really like and that I try to do.”

Home from the University of Illinois and working at Kish, Lockman played an original arrangement for guitar of a hymn composed by Maltbie Babcock titled “This Is My Father’s World” for his dad. About a year later, after his father passed away, Lockman worked with a music instructor at Kish and recorded an EP of songs, including his original arrangement of Babcock’s hymn.

“It was good, but over the years I had to ask myself if this work was how I wanted to represent my music,” he said.

After completing his master’s degree, Lockman left Kish to work as a reference librarian with St. Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford. When the position came open at Kish, Anne-Marie Green, director of Library Services, contacted Lockman and encouraged him to apply.

“I came back and am actually a faculty member here. I like helping students, seeing the light bulb go off when they gain a better understanding of how to find information,” he said. “It really is the best part of the job. I remember having those threshold moments myself as a student.”

Although he grew as a library professional, something felt unfinished. He kept thinking about recording a full-length CD that would reflect the musician and man he had become. The final push was the birth of his great-niece, Alice, nearly a year ago.

“I wrote a guitar piece for her before she was born called “Lullaby (For Alice)” and I realized that she would need to hear it and keep it,” he explained. “So I went to one of my favorite music stores in Aurora and asked them to recommend a studio.”

The rest was a flurry of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project followed by recording, mixing, mastering and things like graphic design, photography and drafting liner notes.

The finished CD, “Castles in the Snow,” includes “Lullaby (For Alice)” as well as his original arrangement for solo guitar of “This Is My Father’s World.”

It is available at the Kishwaukee College Bookstore and online at www.cdbaby.com, Google Play Store, Microsoft Store and Spotify.