Thursday, June 12, 2014

"A Day in the Country" to kick off Chicago music festival season on right note


The summer music festival season will kick off on the right note with the seventh annual "A Day in the Country," which will be held June 22 at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Chicago.

Sanctified Grumblers, Nora O'Connor, The Lawrence Peters Outfit and Kory Quinn are among the acts that will perform at the festival. A full schedule is below:

Front porch stage:
2:00- 2:30- Dogtown Ramblers
2:45- 3:15pm- Sanctified Grumblers
3:30- 4:00pm- Chandelier Swingers

Backroom stage:
4:15- 4:45pm-  Honky Tonk Parade
5:00- 5:45pm- Nora O’Connor
6:00- 6:30pm- The Lawrence Peters Outfit
6:45- 7:15pm- Gin Palace Jesters
7:30- 8:00pm- Golden Horse Ranch Band
8:15- 8:45pm- Kory Quinn
9:00- 9:30pm- The Harrow
9:45- 10:15pm- Dan Whitaker & The Shinebenders
10:30- 11:00pm- The Lantern Kickers 

Tickets to "A Day in the Country" are $10, available at

I had the chance to talk to organizer Lawrence Peters about the festival.

Q - Good talking to you. How did you go about putting together this year's lineup? Are they all bands that you personally know or have played with?

Likewise. Yeah, the bands are mostly made up of friends and fellow travelers, and I’ve played shows or been in bands with most of them. 

I’ll occasionally bring in a favorite group from out of town like Red Meat, who came from San Francisco to play last year’s festival. Otherwise, it’s all about Chicago’s pool of talented mofos, with this year’s highpoint being Nora O’Connor playing a country set. 

Q - What made you want to start "A Day in the Country" in the first place? How has the festival grown over the years?

It started when I learned that The [Lawrence Peters] Outfit hadn’t gotten into a big Chicago festival, and neither had any of my friends. My band got to play [a big festival] a couple years later, but at the time it seemed like another nail in the coffin of a the kind of country music I like.

My response was to start my own fest, and book it with what I thought were the best examples of the good stuff. It’s been gratifying to see the fest becoming a yearly tradition. I have friends bringing their babies to it, as their first music experience. That is more valuable than I can describe.
Q - You've been performing music for more than 20 years. How did you get involved with American country music in the first place? Would you classify yourself as an alternative country musician as opposed to mainstream country, which seems to be a lot of pop music which tries to pass itself off as country music?

I’ve been listening to country music for as long as I can remember. I grew up on country radio, in the '70s, when older classics and new hits were played side by side, so I got to got to hear what tradition and innovation can sound like when the latter honors the former. 

I got the hell out, when things got dire in the late '70s and early '80s, but Dwight Yoakam and The Knitters brought me back in. I consider myself to be a country musician. 

I don’t like much mainstream country (though there are exceptions), and I don’t think of what I do as alternative, in the sense of what the term has come to mean, as its own genre. In my opinion, what I do should be called country, and what’s on the radio should be called something else, like “Nashville Pop” or “Processed, Artificially Flavored *Country Product.” *Contains no actual country.
Q - Tell me about your involvement in CHIRP Radio. What have you tried to do through being a volunteer for CHIRP Radio?

I’ve been volunteering there since just before the station went live on the net. I had a regular show for the first six months, but gave that up when my tour and gig schedule got too tight for a weekly spot. 

I still sub when I can, and I call my show “The Mutant Hit Parade." I spin my version of “the hits,” meaning songs that I think are catchy and unique, but maybe a little weird, and mostly unheard of. I also contribute reviews to the CHIRP music library.
Q - Your band, The Lawrence Peters Outfit, released its debut album nationally in 2012. Are you working on new songs with the band? What were your goals in forming the band and do you think you've reached them?

I’ve played with lots of great folks over the years and have had some rad times, but I wanted to give myself a chance to see if my ideas were good enough to stand on their own. I wanted to write more, and I knew that wasn’t possible without being the leader of my own band, where I’d have control over the sound and influences. 

I’m very happy with my band. It’s always a great time, and the music sounds just the way I like it.
The last couple of years have been all about getting the most out of that first release, and that’s finally paying off. We’re getting better shows and opportunities, with less effort on my part. 

Now that I have some solid momentum from that, I’m making some space to finish the pile of partial songs I have in my book. We’ve been doing one that I just completed, and it’s sounding great; very encouraging for the next stretch of writing, and the new turf I want to cover.
Q - You've done so much in your career. Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

Plenty of stuff in that category - I’ve got a secret list of folks that I want to have add their magic to the next record (the last one included Robbie Fulks, Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor and others). I’m looking to get The Lawrence Peters Outfit into more out-of-town festivals, and some European touring. 

I’m working on a country music podcast that will spotlight a lot of classic and lesser-known performers, plus some other choice content. Among the highest on my list of tough nuts to crack is getting to play the Grand Ole Opry. 

Improbable, but I always need a sore tooth to worry.