The Way Down Wanderers and Chicago Farmer
with special guests The Home Fires
Often referred to by fans as one of the hardest-working, hardest-touring bands on the circuit today, the 5-piece Illinois-based act not only proves that classification with their jam-packed tour schedule but also on stage every night, with youthful exuberance and a lively stage show, as reliable as it is infectious. High energy percussion, mandolin, guitar, bass, banjo and fiddle weave seamlessly together to create an experience for fans that has sold out shows across the UK and the United States, filling the front rows with fans not just singing along to one tune, but singing along to all of them. “Everybody says it. We’d be nothing without our supporters. Yeah, they buy tickets and of course we love that, but when we’ve been on the road for 10 hours and walk onto a stage road weary and we see familiar faces singing along, it’s hard to describe. It's everything, really. There’s a whole lot of love there.”
Music enthusiasts are not the only ones taking note. Critics and tastemakers alike have awarded the young artists an impressive number of accolades ranging from official showcases at AmericanaFest (2018) and International Bluegrass Music Association (2016) to Whitstable UK Session of the Year (2017), a BBC Scotland Session (2017) as well as Finalist, International Song Writing Competition (2015 & 2016), Chicago’s Best Emerging Artist, Deli Magazine (2014) and Songpickr’s Best Songs Spotify Playlist (2016) among others. The young men are no strangers to the festival circuit either, having played major National and Regional Festivals such as Merlefest, Summer Camp, Red Wing Roots Music Festival and Saskatchewan Jazz Fest all across the United States, Canada and the UK. The band has also graced the stage of coveted venues such as Bluegrass Underground (TN), The Fox Theater (CO), Park West (IL), The Vogue (IN) The Station Inn (TN) The Ark (MI), and countless others.
The son of a small town farming community, Cody Diekhoff logged plenty of highway and stage time under the name Chicago Farmer before settling in the city in 2003. Profoundly inspired by fellow midwesterner John Prine, he’s a working-class folk musician to his core. His small town roots, tilled with city streets mentality, are turning heads North and South of I-80.
“I love the energy, music, and creativity of Chicago, but at the same time, the roots and hard work of my small town,” he shares. Growing up in Delavan, Illinois, with a population less than 2,000, Diekhoff’s grandparents were farmers, and their values have always provided the baseline of his songs.
He writes music for “the kind of people that come to my shows. Whether in Chicago or Delavan, everyone has a story, and everyone puts in a long day and works hard the same way,” he says. “My generation may have been labeled as slackers, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t work hard - many people I know put in 50-60 hours a week and 12 hour days. That’s what keeps me playing. I don’t like anyone to be left out; my music is for everyone in big and very small towns.”
He listened to punk rock and grunge as a kid before discovering a friend’s dad playing Hank Williams, and it was a revelation. Prine and Guthrie quickly followed. The name Chicago Farmer was originally for a band, but the utilitarian life of driving alone from bar to bar, city to city - to make a direct connection to his audience and listener, took a deeper hold.
The Home Fires is a new Americana duo from Minneapolis comprised of acclaimed singer/songwriters Sarah Morris and Vicky Emerson. While both women continue to pursue successful solo careers and tour on a national basis, they have joined forces to launch this new project. In 2016, Sarah and Vicky became friends and tour mates. On their first Midwest tour, it was undeniable after a few shows that they had discovered a brand new sound. The combination of Sarah’s clear, melodic voice and Vicky’s warm, weathered tone created a completely unique harmony combination that continues to resonate with audiences and has propelled them into the forefront of their local music scene.
Sarah and Vicky chose the name The Home Fires because 'Home' represents their love for their children and families, and 'Fire' represents their continued passion for music and songwriting. They both have accepted the challenge and support each other in the intricate balancing act of being a mother while pursuing a career in music.
The duo has gained traction in the Midwest through touring, residencies and opening slots for Emmylou Harris and Ben Rector. In 2018, they were nominated as Americana Artist of the Year by the Midwest Country Music Association. Their live show includes piano, guitars and often hilarious stage banter. They are currently co-writing songs in the car when they tour on the weekends in anticipation of a full length Americana album.