Chicago Farmer

Greeted at the door, we were taken to our seats right up front for this fancy evening out on the town.  City Winery has amazing food, locally sourced wine, and most importantly, excellent acoustic sound. The room is built for intimate music and cozy experiences.  Cozy is the way to politely say tight quarters. When Jimmy, John, and Kate were seated next to us, I wasn’t sure where to put my elbows.

Grateful Web had the chance to chat with Cody Diekhoff, better known as Chicago Farmer.  He will be playing his first headlining show at City Winery Chicago on Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 with special guest Althea Grace opening the show for him.  His style can best be described as a folk artist with a bold talent for storytelling.

I’ve had a few whirlwind romances with festivals before, but I’m infatuated with you, dear Shoe Fest 2019. The understated red and gold signs off the highway invited us in and although I cannot find the right words to say, I shall try to express how I love thee. From the moment we entered Camp Shaw-waw-nas-see in Manteno IL, we knew that this would be a truly special Labor Day weekend. There was a twinkle in security’s eyes when they approved our non-firework no glass bottles camper ready wagon. They waved us through as if it were their job to bring the most satisfaction and to welcome us in, accepting us as another member to the Shoe Family Tribe. We quickly and easily parked, gazing out over the sea of cars in anticipation of the festival grounds.

Unlike larger festivals, Shoe Fest is a unique festival, in that it offers patrons folk-rooted music with multiple interactive experiences. The main focus of the festival is on bringing people of all ages together to relish in a carefree community where they can leave their busy lives behind and actually have a good time.

When I was invited, for the third time, to review the John Hartford Memorial Festival, in its 9th year, I heartily accepted. I also tried to bring people along, because it’s an experience worth sharing. I was at a loss, at first, to explain it. Not just a bluegrass festival. A picking festival? Mostly. But with elements ranging from old-time Americana, root music, classical and rock and jazz- I settled on bluegrass and its extended family. It turns out that ‘extended family’ would come back around a few times.

I made a wish on the Zoltar fortune Telling machine. I wished I could unwind and rewind back to the glory days. I wished my youth wasn’t wasted when I was young. I wished to be me, free of worry, like the days of childhood Summer Camp, adventurous and curious, exploring the wonders of nature.

Located along the serene Maremac River, Lost Hill Lake offers a natural venue and spot for a festival of interactive workshops and large, late night bonfire jams. Two stages are separated by the shade of a 50 year-old walnut grove, where the audience can participate in camping, have lake and river access and an assortment of food, artisan crafts and more. The 14-band lineup consists of local, regional and national touring bands performing a range of traditional and progressive bluegrass, jamgrass, Americana folk and more.

This review is going to read more like a sci-fi story. Do not adjust your grammatical eyes or correct the run-on sentences.  You are entering my Shoe Fest Vision. For only 72 hours, gates opened at 10 am on Friday and closed down at 10 am on Monday Labor Day.  Once crossed into Shoe Fest 2018 at Camp Shaw-waw-nas-see (affectionately known as Camp Shaw) in Manteno IL, you were greeted with unexpected twists and left with a good moral learned.  A fest like this is filled with instant karma.

I had one question as I was pulling into Bean Blossom, Indiana for this year’s John Hartford Memorial Festival. “Can they keep the spirit of this thing alive with continued success?” There is something different and special happening in this event, and we all know what happens when beautiful special things really take off and become tremendously successful. I didn’t doubt that I was about to take part in something truly good, but I was – let’s say worried. I don’t want to see this festival lose its way.

Translators of iconic music as well as innovative original material, Chicago’s Old Shoe, brings a classic live album back to life. With their good pal and very talented singer/songwriter on board, Chicago Farmer will accompany Old Shoe with his soulful renditions of Bob Dylan tunes. Both artists will pay homage to 1989’s Dylan & the Dead, a collaborative live album which was recorded while on a successful stadium tour of the same name in 1987.

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