BLOOMINGTON — Folk music fans shouldn’t be leery of Cody Diekhoff’s stage name, Chicago Farmer. It only shows where he's been.
"People like it, I think,” he said.
Diekhoff will bring his music March 22 to the Castle Theatre stage in downtown Bloomington.
The opening act will be Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts. The band’s rock sound has often been paired with the folk music of Chicago Farmer in past shows.
Diekhoff, 40, describes his music as pure folk. “It is singer/songwriter based,” he said. “It involves storytelling.”
During the performances, Diekhoff gives insight into his experiences when he wrote songs like “The Twenty Dollar Bill” and “Workin' On It.”
“It makes it more relatable,” he said. “They can grasp onto it.”
The audience isn’t left out of the performance. The band incorporates sing-alongs into its shows. “We try to get them involved; it’s a personal experience,” Diekhoff said. “We try to become one.”
Chicago Farmer has performed on stage at Castle Theatre on several occasions. Diekhoff said the venue is one of his favorites. As a child growing up in the small farming town of Delavan, about 45 minutes from Bloomington, Diekhoff had limitations on where he could see live performances.
The nearby cities had few options. “We didn’t have a proper venue when I was kid,” he said. “A lot of people still haven't been to The Castle, but it is a gem.”
Although folk music is now his passion, Diekhoff’s musical influences were based on what teenagers listened to in the 1990s. He watched the popular MTV show “Unplugged,” featuring the iconic grunge band Nirvana. The music started Diekhoff’s musical course.
“Nirvana stripped down is just folk songs,” he said. “What they played and performed had a lot emotions.”
As the name implies, Chicago Farmer began as a group in the Windy City. Diekhoff lived in a loft with several other musicians in Chicago. “But I wanted to go on as a solo act,” he said. “The name stuck.”
To start a serious musical career, he left Chicago and moved to Bloomington, a city he refers to as medium size, compared to Delavan and Chicago.
Since then, Diekhoff has traveled throughout the country performing folk music at concerts and festivals. He often gets comments on his stage name as well as his unique, small town drawl.
“But I don’t hear it,” he said.