Chicago Farmer to hit the House

By Ross Hettel

I have a confession to make. I haven’t always loved my home, my birthplace — Illinois. Without boring you with the details, I’ve been to far and away places and have seen some amazing sights. So when I eventually came back to the land of the corn, I was more than a bit jaded.

Now that I’ve been here a spell, I’ve come to realize there’s a beauty in those long stretches of back roads, the small towns and the people that fill them, and even the endless corn fields. The things that brought me to this revelation were twofold: actually living here for more than a couple months, and folk singer Chicago Farmer.

The name pays homage to the duality of the state, or as he puts it, “what Illinois is: pretty much Chicago and corn.”

The man behind Chicago Farmer, Cody Diekhoff, shares a bit of that duality. Born and raised in a small town called Delavan in the middle of the state with a population smaller than your lecture hall class, he yearned to move to the big city and find more culture.

He loves the Windy City, he says, but also loves the back roads and small towns as well.

“I came to the hard city ’cause the country was soft. From a dirty basement to a dirty loft,” he sings in his song “People N’ Places.”

His music has roots deep in American folk and his heartfelt, poignant lyrics weave together to tell a story. Some are about himself, but most are about others.

“My life isn’t that exciting,” Diekhoff said, “So I write about other people.”

He says to expect a good time filled with stories and sing-alongs at his shows.

He’s right, even the most blasé Illinoisan won’t be able to help himself signing along with the catchy chorus of “Illinois Anthem:”

“This isn’t Florida; it isn’t California. It’s Illinois!”

When people have been working hard all week and just want to get out and have fun, he tries to provide that atmosphere. With all the stress this week stemming from finals, I’m sure everyone could use a bit of a fun time.

His music is for anyone that was corn fed as a baby or anyone who learned to drive on a tractor rather than a car. It’s also for those city slickers who need something softer and more empathetic than what the hard city provides.

Really, though, Chicago Farmer is for everyone in Illinois. We grow more than corn here; we grow some pretty damn good musicians, too.

Who: Chicago Farmer

Where: The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight

How Much: $7