Aurora’s The Venue Launches Americana Music Festival

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The Venue in Aurora presents Americana Music Fest August 12-14, featuring three days of roots, folk and rock music.

The three-day outdoor festival features headlining Chicago Farmer and the Fieldnotes on August 12, May Erlewine on August 13, and on August 14 a tribute album cover to Tom Waits’ “Mule Variations.” Guests are requested to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. Doors open at 6 p.m. on August 12 and 14 and at 5 p.m. on August 13.

Scott Tipping is the event curator for The Venue. This is the maiden voyage of the Americana music festival, he said.

The Fox Valley Music Society previously presented a Rhythm and Roots Festival which this year was split into three commemorative summer festivals: a Blues Festival in June, a Jazz Festival in July and the Americana Festival in August, a-t -he declares.

He thinks people will appreciate the diversity and musicality of the acts, he said.

“Chicago Farmer, Cody Diekhoff, is a guy I’ve known for a long, long time. The Fox Valley Music Society used it for certain benefits and such. He’s kind of a regular at playing for us, so we thought he’d be great,” he said.

“Nora O’Connor and Casey McDonough play in a band called the Flat Five who have played at our house before and we love their music. May Erlewine, her latest record is a fantastic record and she opens for Sheryl Crow.

“Nathan Graham is based in Chicago and he just did a bunch of European dates with Ben Harper. There are some rising names within the Americana community and some local people and some favorites for us in the area.

Chicago Farmer is Diekhoff from Bloomington and his band is the Field Notes.

“I’m like a troubadour folk singer and for the past few years I’ve put together a band to mix things up,” Diekhoff said. “My music is mostly based on songs and stories. I grew up in a small town in central Illinois of about 1,700 people. In 2003 I moved to Chicago, that’s kind of where the name comes from. I went from small town to big city and wrote about my experiences in both – north of I-80 and south of I-80.

He formed a band made up of some of his like-minded musician friends.

“I think it’s Americana; it’s a bit of folk rock, a bit of country, there’s blues… we take all the genres we like and mix them all together.

He’s excited to be part of the great lineup at the Americana Music Festival, he said. The songwriting under the Americana umbrella is honest and real, he said.

“Here in central Illinois, where I live, they call it ‘black earth music’. And in Texas they call it ‘red earth music,'” he said “I think it’s just music about where you’re from. Call it what you want, but really the music just reflects the life you live and the life other people live around you and I think that’s what Americana music is.

“I think maybe people didn’t want to call it country music because country music got a little too pop and a little mainstream and a little too commercial, so now we have this thing called American music on which we kind of lean on. It has a reality and a rawness, I think.

Tipping accepted.

“What I personally love and I think a lot of people identify with Chicago Farmer is there’s a realism to his lyrics. He writes songs that I think a lot of people can connect with. Tipping said. “He has a song called ‘$13 Beers’ which is about how stadiums charge way too much for beer. He has a really smart way of talking and telling stories and being relatable. .

Tipping is also excited to see Graham on August 12.

“I’ve never seen Nathan before. The new singles he released are super exciting to me. It’s a great rural sound. His stuff seems to be a little more rock than some Americana that I’m used to hearing,” he said. “I’m super excited for what’s happening in his career. I’m very excited to see what he’s talking about.

Graham, 32, grew up in Chicago listening to everything from Jim Croce and John Denver to Joe Cocker and BB King.

“What they call Americana now – more singer-songwriter,” Graham said.

He learned the guitar at age 13. He was drawn to American music because it can be slow or fast, loud or soft, but it’s all about singer-songwriters, he said.

“Americana could be jazz; it’s all about American music,” he said. “In my case, it’s bluesy, lots of up-tempo stuff going on.”

Graham wrote an entire album during the pandemic and Americana Music Fest audiences will hear those songs, he said.

He’s excited not only to play The Venue, but the other bands as well.

“I haven’t seen Chicago Farmer in a while and I’m really excited to see them,” he said. “I actually know Nora O’Connor and Casey McDonough, so it will be quite interesting to see them. I haven’t heard May Erlewine yet, but I have it on my list to check.

August 12 acts include O’Connor and McDonough at 7 p.m., Graham at 8 p.m., and Chicago Farmer and The Fieldnotes at 9:15 p.m.

On August 13, Make it a Double is at 6 p.m., Big Sadie is at 7 p.m., Dick Smith is at 8 p.m., and Erlewine closes the day at 9:15 p.m.

A tribute album cover to Tom Waits’ “Mule Variations” begins at 7 p.m. on August 14.

American Music Festival

When: 6pm-10pm August 12-14

Where: The Aurora Venue, 21 S. Broadway Ave., Aurora

Tickets: $15 to $65

Information: 331-212-8490; themusicvenue.org

Annie Alleman is a freelance journalist for the Beacon-News.

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