Tailgate N’ Tallboys is Central Illinois #1 Country Music Festival. The Music Series is designed with the true Midwestern summer concert goer in mind. Boasting top country acts to span over the summer months all at one low cost ticket price. Our 6 Pack Pass allows entry to 6 concerts for practically the cost of one concert. This allows our Midwestern country music lovers the ability to hit one or all six shows on the calendar and keep the party going all summer long.

Chris Janson

Chris Janson has never doubted who he is. He's a devoted husband, a passionate father, a hit songwriter, a wildly entertaining performer and, now, a Number One country artist. All those elements influence Buy Me a Boat, his debut solo album for Warner Bros. Records/Warner Music Nashville.

"Everything I'm about is in this record," says Janson. "It's very much a biopic album."

It's also a story of perseverance — a journey that began when Janson first wrote the song "Buy Me a Boat" early in 2015. Back then, he wasn't being played on country radio, he didn't have a record label and he certainly wasn't a known star. He was simply doing what he knew how to do: writing songs and relentlessly touring the country's clubs, fairs and festivals, all with the sole purpose of providing for his family. Life changed at lightning speed, however, when radio jumped on the aspirational "Boat," Janson landed a tour with Toby Keith and Warner Music Nashville signed him to a record deal. Now, "Buy Me a Boat" is a Number One single, having topped the country chart in September.

Still, the down-to-earth Janson — who upon moving to Nashville ten years ago would play for tips in honky-tonks all day and sleep in his car at night — remains unchanged. "I know who I am as a man, as an artist and as a songwriter," he says. "Sometimes ego gets in the way in life, along with baggage and pride. I don't have that stuff in my life — and that's what makes this music so beautiful and easy to make."

Indeed, Buy Me a Boat unfolds effortlessly. Over 11 tracks, Janson exudes a confidence that veteran artists spend their entire careers trying to attain. Part of that comes from his years of leaving it all on the stage, which he commands with stellar showmanship and charisma. The rest is derived from Janson's insistence on writing his own songs. He's a songwriter first and foremost, penning hits for other artists, most notably Tim McGraw's Top 10 "Truck Yeah."

"I'm the kind of guy who has to live and breathe my songs," says Janson, reinforcing the autobiographical nature of Buy Me a Boat.

On the greasy "White Trash," the blue-collar hero recalls his hardscrabble Missouri upbringing, of playing as a kid in a dirt front yard, surrounded by trailers and cars on blocks. In the breezy "Under the Sun," the avid outdoorsman decries our gadget-obsessed culture, delivering one of the best vocal performances in country music this year. And in the true-to-life "Back in My Drinkin' Days," Janson documents his run-ins with the law, when, fueled by booze and a rebel spirit, he'd "get buck-ass wild" — these days, he prefers the sugar high of Mountain Dew.

But his teetotaler ways don't negate his ability to carry on country's storied tradition of drinking songs. Buy Me a Boat's second single, "Power of Positive Drinkin'," is ready-made for the bar or backyard party. Written with his "Buy Me a Boat" partner Chris DuBois and also Mark Irwin, the song features a soaring, clever chorus and staccato verses from Janson.

Buy Me a Boat — which Janson produced with Chris DuBois, Brent Anderson and Byron Gallimore — also contains two of the most personal songs the singer has ever written: "Holdin' Her" and "Where You Come In." "Holdin' Her" nets a surefire standing ovation when he performs at the Grand Ole Opry (he's played the esteemed institution more than 100 times), while "Where You Come In" stands as his favorite song on the album. Both ballads are about Janson's wife, Kelly.

"I don't know why people are scared of cutting ballads, because there is a place for meaty songs like those that talk about relationships," Janson says. "My wife inspires me and ties up every loose end I ever had."

It was Kelly in fact who inspired and co-wrote Buy Me a Boat's centerpiece, "Messin' With Jesus," a show-stopping duet with Tim McGraw. A warning to avoid life's temptations, the gritty lyrics acknowledge that, try as we might, we're all sinners, with Janson and McGraw trading lines about smoking, speeding and fighting until the song explodes in a "hallelujah" chorus.

"It's a full-blown duet and it gives me chills," says Janson.

Country purists should have a similar reaction to the album as a whole, thanks to a heavy dose of steel guitar and Janson's own fiery harmonica playing, a hallmark of his live show. The country weeper "Yeah It Is" — which echoes George Strait's "Give It Away" with its sing-speak delivery and multi-layered payoff line — and "Back in My Drinkin' Days" highlight each instrument. And every song on the LP has its own sense of authenticity, whether it's born of country, rock or even hip-hop — "Some call me honky-tonk, a little bit of hip-hop, a little bit of rock & roll," he sings in the exhilarating "Right in the Middle."

By the time Buy Me a Boat fades out, Janson has succeeded in his chief goal: making an album of songs that are not only radio hits, but songs that he could take on the road. After all, that's how he supports his beloved wife and kids.

"Some people might say playing a song live and having a hit on the radio are two different things, but you have to want to go sing it live. I love singing my songs," he says. "Because I am so damn proud of them."

Aaron Lewis

“I’m a sinner to my core...I ask forgiveness and nothing more.”If it sounds like Aaron Lewis is long pastdefending his Country music pedigree, that would be a correct assessment. Lewis would prefer the music speak for itselfand, withthe release of SINNER, Lewis’ stunning Dot Records follow-up to his groundbreaking full-length solo debut The Roadin 2012, any would-be detractors will be pretty much out of ammo.Lewis, however, is not. SINNERblasts through today’s Country music doldrums like a shot of 100-proof whiskey, with the singer making zero compromises with either himself or the restrictions of a format that seems to have abandoned its rougher tendencies in favor of pop and ‘70s rock inclinations largely lacking in grit. “I’d like to think that SINNERis a newer take on classic, traditional Outlaw Country, Waylon and Merle and Willie,and Hank Jr. and Johnny Cash and all that stuff,” says Lewis. “That was the musicI heardas a kid,and that’s the Country music that permeated my soul and stuck with me my whole life.”Lewis admits he “didn’t really pay attention to any of the Country music in between” that early Outlaw exposure and his emergence as a new voice for the genre with the release of “Country Boy” on the Town LineEP in 2011. “I was too busy going down the road of one day ending up being in a rock band,and revolting against the music I was basically force-fed as a kid,” he says. “I finally came around full circle,and this music crept back into my life. My plumber at the time bet me that I wouldn’twrite a Country song, so I sat down and wrote ‘Country Boy,’and the rest is history.”As the front man for one of modern rock’s most successful bands in Staind, Lewis admits his entre into the Country world has been met with mixed reactions. “I have definitely dealt with some of the old guard questioning my commitment to the genre, questioning how much of this might be a toe-dipping in the water to see what the temperature is,” he says. “I had, and still have, a very established career in the rock world, and as much as that has been a blessing in some ways, it has been a curse in others in trying to be looked at as somebody who is taking this seriously and isn’t just trying to go where the money is. There has beena pretty big misconception I’ve had to battle, but there has also been lots of support. Therehave been times I’ve been told by a program directorthat my record was his favorite that came out that year buthe couldn’t play it because it’s ‘too Country.’The landscape of Country radio today doesn’t really leave any room for an artist like myself that has no desire to mix pop music with Country music. Why would I do that?”Few pop-tinged songs would dare feature lyrics as candid, biting and personal as those on SINNER.If “Country Boy,” with it’s swaggering bravado, was the opening salvo, the 11 songs on SINNERherald a man who admits—and often deeply regrets—his personal shortcomings, yet offersno excuses. “This is an album of acknowledgement, admittance, moments of self-awareness,” he says. “It has been a pretty trying time in my life over the past few years, and these songs are what have come of it. At the risk of sounding cliché, my music has always been therapeutic for me.”

Produced by Country legend Buddy Cannon (whose production resume boasts masterpieces with artists ranging from Kenny Chesney and George Strait to Merle Haggard and George Jones), and recorded over 16 intense hours at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios, SINNERcaptures what was going on in Lewis’ head at this point in his life; laid backwith a soundtrack that harkens back to the Country genre’s most honest and musically adventurous artists.“I loved working with Buddy,” says Lewis. “He’s an amazing, highly accomplished producer that really doesn’t have very many bad ideas. And he also steps back and allows you to be creative and do whatever it is you’redoing, and doesn’t try to change the vision that you have. I was able to write and record a record that I was responsible for how it came out.”Written on tour and during infrequent down times over the past two years, and road-tested in front of fans that basically served as judge and jury for inclusion on the record, the songs on SINNERtogether alternate between swagger and vulnerability, biting humor and fierce independence. Lewis and his creative compadreBen Kitterman (Lewis’ former bus driver who earned a permanent place by his side on the road and in the studio once his talent was discovered), are joined by such A-Listers as Brent Mason(guitar), Paul Franklin(steel guitar), Jim “Moose” Brown(keyboards), Bobby Terry(guitar), Pat Buchanan (guitar) and Tony Creaseman (drums). Also taking partare such country stalwarts as Mickey Raphael, Willie Nelson (who adds a committed gravitas to the title cut), Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminskiand Vince Gill. Remarkably, “I think I got Vince Gill to sing the word ‘shit’ for the first time in his career,” Lewis says with a laugh. Most of the songs were cut live in the studio, using scratch vocals. “I had a pretty good idea what I wanted the album to sound like,” says Lewis, “and then it was a matter of just going in and either playing songs for the guys in the studio live on an acoustic guitar and letthem go from there; or playing them YouTube clips of the song live off of somebody’s phone. Most of the time, they didn’t even need to listen to the whole song, they got the gist of it, charted it out, and then went in there and nailed it on one or two takes. Everything is live, everybody was just playing the song and going right to tape, and then 16 hours later the recording process was complete.”The result is an album that is “as raw and as real and as un-messed with as it could possibly be,” accordingto Lewis, with the energy of a “band” record and an introspective tone that completely reflects the state of mind of Aaron Lewis. Creative flourishes abound, with innovative arrangements melding with traditional honky-tonk structures and instrumentations,along with muscularballads and powerful themes of love, loyalty, alienation and regret, tempered by a dose of humor and knowing introspection. While Lewis’ lyrics and vocals astound throughout, perhaps the most impactful song on an immensely interesting and entertaining album is its hidden track, a version of the Bruce Robison gem “Travelin’ Soldier” featuring vocals from Lewis then-13 year-old daughter, Zoe. In her recorded vocal debut, Zoe nails it, providing an innocence and purity of tone that servethe song’s lyrics to the highest level. It’s an auspicious debut, and one Lewis admits could change his daughter’slife.“I am beyond proud,” says Lewis. “She has this innocence and purity to her voicebecause it’s a completely raw, untrained voice. All I wasdoing in the room, silently, with hand gestures and body motions, wasjust trying to get her to sing loud and project, just trying to get her to go after it.”The power of Zoe’s debut begs the question of how Lewis would feel if his daughter were toembark on a career in a business he has been openly critical of. “I would be very,very cautious,and supportively against it, if that makes any sense,” he says. “It is a vicious, vicious industry, and I would have to be right there at her side, holding her hand the entire time in order to be comfortable with it. I’ve heard it all already, every possible thing you could throw at my daughter to influence her in some way, and it ain’t gonna happen.”

While SINNERmay surprise those unaware of Lewis’ lyricaldepth and vocal authority, hard-core fans of his concerts (which he describes as “a very healthy mix of cowboy hats,baseball caps,tattoos,black shirts”) will rejoice in having definitive copies of songs they’ve been hearing live and on the Internet, some for a couple of years. Lyrically, Lewis generally doesn’t lead with his political views (though his stance is often to be found for those who look), he has been publicly outspoken in ways few Country artists dare in these complicated, polarizing times. “I believe in this country, I believe in the Constitution that created it, I believe in conservative capitalism, I believe in all the things that made this country great, and I will not shut up about that for anyone,” he states. “And if you don’t like it, don’t talk politics with me, because I’m constitutionally correct in every single thing I say.”As to whether his outspokennesshas impacted his career, Lewis says, “It’s not hurting me as far as I know, but I couldn’tgive a damn, I don’t care. And, honestly, I could care less if I lost a couple of people because of that along the way. If you can’t enjoy my music anymore because you don’t see eye-to-eye with me, then so be it. Whatever.”And, after putting his heart and soul on the line to create SINNER, Lewis feels similarly about how it lands in the marketplace. “You can’t make everybody happy,” he says,“so you put your best foot forward, you hope everybody likes it,and if they don’t, f-‘em.”CONNECT: Facebook(55K Likes)Twitter(78.4K)www.AaronLewis.com

$15.00 - $40.00


2-DAY OUTLAW COUNTRY PASS includes access for 1 individual to BOTH dates. Standing Room Only w/ NO lawnchairs permitted in Party Pit. GA Lawn ticket holders may bring lawnchairs.

Thu, Sept 28: Chris Janson & More / Fri, Sept 29: Aaron Lewis & More


GA Lawn = $35, Party Pit = $40, 

Check TailgateNTallboys.com & Limelighteventplex.com for all details including lineup and schedule for gate times for each individual date along with all other festival policies.

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