Some live albums are so good they become the recordings those artists are known for. Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive” and “Cheap Trick at Budokan” were monster hits and catapulted them to rock superstar status. Cody Diekhoff, too, has big hopes for his first live Chicago Farmer album, the two-disc set “Quarter Past Tonight.”
“Folk superstar would be just fine,” said Diekhoff, who celebrates the album’s release with a concert starting at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at the Cavalier Theater. Tickets for the all-ages show, which also will feature Pat Ferguson and Christian Staehly of the Smokin’ Bandits, are $10 and can be purchased in advance at eventbrite.com.
It’s been a good year for Cody Diekhoff — the solo artist from central Illinois whose performs under the name Chicago Farmer. He’s performing …
A touring folk singer for 20 years with a quarter century of writing songs under his belt, Diekhoff called his 21-song 2005 debut album “About Time,” and the same title would have fit for the new live album, recorded last December in two sold-out nights at the Apollo Theater in Peoria, Ill. Fans have requested a live album for years because they love his stories and banter as much as his songs.
“People for the longest time have been coming up to me at the merch table — ‘What do you have that’s just like what you just did on stage,’” Diekhoff says. “So after a long time of putting it off, I finally did it.”
“Quarter Past Tonight” is a celebration of a musical career in which he’s recorded five studio albums of Chicago Farmer music, crisscrossed the country playing thousands of shows, and shared stages with Robert Earl Keen, Todd Snider, Greg Brown, Greensky Bluegrass, The Wood Brothers, Elizabeth Cook, Wayne Hancock, Del McCoury and Gene Ween — the last two on the same weekend. It also marks a milestone in his life, coming out just before his 40th birthday. “This is kind of my big tribute to me for sticking around this long,” he says.
“Quarter Past Tonight” is about as authentic as they come. The first disc is the first night’s show, as presented, and disc two documents the second night just as it happened. What’s on those discs is about 98 percent of what he gave the audiences those nights. “We tried to keep it as real as we could,” he says, and that’s his approach to songwriting, too. “Now that I’m older, there’s way more honesty and realness that goes into my songs. Life has happened to me in the last decade, good and bad, and that’s what these songs are about.”
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In addition to longtime fan favorites like “Umbrella,” “Illinois Anthem,” “Assembly Line Blues,” “Workin’ On It” and “Backseat,” the album also features three new original Chicago Farmer songs — “Dirtiest Uniforms,” “$13 Beers,” and “I Need A Hit” — as well as a cover of Backyard Tire Fire’s “Good to Be.”
Todd Snider has called Chicago Farmer “the genuine heir to Arlo Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot,” and he’s one of Pokey La Farge’s favorite singers. Accolades like that and the chance to record a double live album have Diekhoff feeling fortunate. He’s grateful for what he’s been able to do, for being able to make his daydreams come true, and yet he wants more, has unfulfilled ambitions and feels no relief from “the creativity bug.”
“My heroes all have their own chapter in the Great American Folk Book. Right now, I have a run-on sentence,” he says. “With this live album, I hope it will turn into a paragraph, and maybe a page, and who knows, maybe a chapter of my own. I’m a quarter century into it and feel my best adventures and songs are yet to come.”