Photo: Back Country Roads, a local country music band with members from throughout the Kaneland area, recently performed in Nashville as part of a country music contest. Courtesy Photo
by Susan O’Neill
Nashville—Back Country Roads, a local band in the Kaneland area that describes its music as “the big sounds of Nashville (brought) home to the Midwest,” recently brought their sound to Nashville. The band was invited to play at the Wildhorse Saloon, a three-level, 66,000 square-foot live music and dance venue.
Singer Mary Noren and guitar player Brian Miller had gone to “the Music City” several weeks earlier and dropped off electronic press kits at a few places there. The Wildhorse Saloon contacted them the following day to invite the band to participate in a “Battle for the Saddle” competition on April 25.
Each band played five songs for a panel of three judges, among whom was Michael Knox, Jason Aldean’s producer. Although the band performed well, they did not win the contest, bass player Dave Miller said.
“The experience, however, was well worth the trip,” Dave said. “It was an awesome experience to be on a stage playing to 800 to 1,000 people.”
Kaneville resident and one of the newest members of the band, keyboard player Dan Alfrey described the experience as a “whirl-wind trip,” one day down, one day to play, and the third day, back home.
“It was humbling, playing in such a large place in a town that is known for its music,” he said.
Approximately 30 to 40 people from the area traveled to Nashville to hear them play. Maple Park resident Kim Goodenough, a friend of vocalist Kyle Miller’s parents, drove them back and forth in her family’s 40-foot motor home.
“The kids are exceptional,” Goodenough said. “They play so well together. They were the only band that had people out on the floor dancing.”
Back Country Roads, also known as BCR, originated in 2009. Kyle and Noren, students together at Northern Illinois University, began singing Karaoke in some of the bars in DeKalb. Their friend Brian Miller soon joined them on acoustic guitar. The band’s first gig was for the Maple Park Fire District Women’s Auxiliary at the Maple Park Pub.
They played a few shows as an acoustic trio, but decided they wanted a bigger sound. They added Jarred Klotz on drums and Dave Miller, Kyle’s great-uncle, on bass guitar.
Soon, they were playing at various festivals and events throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Maple Park Fun Fest, Kaneville Fest, as well as Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, Wis. They added Hanna Mathey on fiddle and Dan Alfrey on keyboards. John Von Arx joined the group later on lead guitar.
The band plays mainly newer country music, such as Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Zach Brown Band and Jason Aldean, as well as some of the older favorites, such as Alabama and Johnny Cash, Dave said. They have a loyal following and have opened for bands such as Phil Vassar, David Lee Murphy and Darryl Worley.
More recently, they have begun writing their own music, and have their first single, called “Wake Up This Day.” They are hoping to get the song played on local stations.
“We want to be a band that other people cover,” Dave said.
BCR will perform at Country Thunder USA this summer for their third consecutive year and will open for Neal McCoy at DeKalb’s Corn Fest. They will also play at Elburn Days and the Maple Park Fun Fest.
For more information and a schedule for Back Country Roads, visit backcountryroadsband.com, ‘Back Country Roads’ page on Facebook or download their free Droid/iPhone app ‘Back Country Roads.’