Free country for all

by Alison Bonaguro
Special to the Tribune

Published October 10, 2008


It used to be part of the Taste of Chicago. But the mayor's a country fan, so it's no surprise that the Chicago County Music Festival is now its own thing. And the free festival is happening this weekend, right outside Soldier Field.

The artists range from teen phenom Taylor Swift to 'redneck woman' Gretchen Wilson, plus some of the country's hottest newcomers. Here's what they had to say:

Taylor Swift " Mayor Daley is wonderful. And it's so cool that he's such a big country music fan. I've played some of my favorite shows in Chicago. When there's that kind of energy, it makes you want to go crazy onstage. 'Picture to Burn' is my favorite song to play live, because I feel this united bond between me and all the girls in the crowd."

Luke Bryan → "Since the first time I played in Chicago the country fans have embraced my music and supported me. I'm excited to be back! And I'm fired up that Mayor Daley is a fan of country music."

Gretchen Wilson → "I'm an Illinois girl, and you can just tell when you're in your own neck of the woods. And we've been playing a lot of casinos, so this kind of fest will be cool. To walk out onstage at a show like this when the crowd is already in a good mood? It's really hard to mess that up."

Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott "Bigger festivals really stretch us, so we grow as live performers. And Chicago's our favorite city to play outside of Nashville. We might even throw some covers in, like Doobie Brothers and AC/DC."


Chicago Country Music Festival Free and fun

When: 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Parklands of Soldier Field, 425 E. McFetridge Drive.

Price: Free; www.chicagocountry musicfestival.us

Traffic note: Public transportation is your best bet because of the Chicago Marathon street closings.

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