County fair medley
Local, rock, country acts on lineup

Published Thursday, February 08, 2007

Local, tribute and country artists make up the Grandstand lineup of the 2007 Sangamon County Fair.

Released today, the lineup includes: Phil Vassar with opening act Joe Diffie on June 16; Gary Allan with opening act Jake Owen on June 15; AC/DC tribute band Hells Bells on June 14; and "Sangamon County Crossroads" with F5 and the City Limits Band kicking off the fair on June 13.

The fair runs June 13-17 at the county fairgrounds in New Berlin.

Daily gate admission is $10 and includes entry to Grandstand events.

On June 13, F5 and City Limits will play individual sets of Top 40 and country/rock before combining for an encore.

Hells Bells will pay homage to AC/DC with two hour-long sets on June 14, covering the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras of lead vocals. Also included are pyrotechnics, live-firing cannons and a re-creation of guitarist Angus Young's striptease.

Allan, a California native influenced by Bakersfield artists Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, grew up playing honky-tonks with his father's band. He issued his 1996 debut, "Used Heart for Sale," on Decca.

After that label closed, Allan jumped to MCA, where he continued to blend country, folk and pop crooning. Three of his four MCA albums have gone platinum, and his hits include "Tough Little Boys," "Man to Man," "Nothing On But the Radio," "Right Where I Need to Be," "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" and a cover of Vertical Horizon's "Best I Ever Had."

Vassar is no stranger to local fair stages, although he's often the opening act. He warmed up crowds for Carrie Underwood and LeAnn Rimes at the 2006 and 2004 Illinois State Fairs.

Once a go-to songwriter for singers such as Tim McGraw, Vassar forged a solo career as a piano-oriented country artist with hits like "American Child," "Good Ole Days" and "I'll Take That As A Yes (The Hot Tub Song)."

Last year, he released "Greatest Hits Vol. 1," on which he recorded his own versions of his songs "Bye Bye" and "I'm Alright," among others.

Injuries got in the way of Jake Owen's planned career as a professional golfer. But his sidelining sparked a self-taught foray into guitar and, eventually, gigs in campus bars at Florida State University. "Startin' With Me," Owen's debut on RCA, hit in summer 2006.

Throughout the 1990s, Diffie was known for No. 1 country-chart singles like "Third Rock from the Sun," "Home" and "Bigger Than the Beatles."

In 2004, Diffie released his first independent album, "Tougher Than Nails," on Broken Bow Records. Currently, he's re-recording his greatest hits for an album that also will feature new material.

Nick Rogers can be reached at 747-9587 or