Barry McNamara  |   Published July 26, 2016

Country music country

Glaser ’04 instrumental in bringing Back Road festival to area
  • Tyler Glaser ’04 brings country music acts to Galva, Illinois for the Back Road Music Festival, now in its third year.
With the help of his childhood friend and the inspiration of Jimmy Buffett, Monmouth College graduate Tyler Glaser ’04 has brought a top-notch country music show to western Illinois.

Now in its third year, The Back Road Country Music Festival will be held Aug. 20 in Glaser’s native Galva, Ill.

Glaser and his friend Nik Grafelman are big fans of live music. Glaser said they typically go to “10 to 20 concerts a year.”

“One night, just after we’d been to a Jimmy Buffett concert, we were sitting around the garage listening to music, and we started thinking about putting on our own show,” said Glaser, who majored in political science at Monmouth and is now assistant vice president at Peoples National Bank in Kewanee, Ill.

Their first call was to management of the Avett Brothers.

“After he started laughing at us, he told us, ‘Here’s what you need to do,’” said Glaser. “We learned more about where to set our sights, and that country music was probably our best chance.”

All things considered, the pair didn’t do too badly right out of the gate, attracting such artists as Frankie Ballard and Joe Diffie for the first Back Road festival in 2014. In the months between making his commitment and the actual show, Ballard’s song Sunshine and Whiskey hit No. 1 on the country music chart.

That concert drew 2,000 people, and Glaser said the crowd doubled to more than 4,000 for last year’s event. He and Grafelman hope for more than 5,000 people to head to the Galva Park District Pavilion for this year’s show. It will feature music from 4 to 11 p.m., concluding with headliner Easton Corbin. Also performing: the Swon Brothers, Chris Lane and David Lee Murphy.

“This year, for the first time, we will also have a side stage, featuring local artists,” said Glaser.

He and Grafelman “do it all” when it comes to the concert – line up acts, run promotions, set up security and work with vendors.

“The first year, we had a professional stage crew come in from Atlanta and do the show,” said Glaser. “We had some local guys watch how they went about things, and now we use them as our stagehands. We also have a great group of local volunteers, who help us with everything from taking tickets, to serving drinks and food, to hosting meet-and-greets.”

KWQC-TV anchorman Gary Metivier will be on hand for the concert as part of the Shave for the Brave fundraiser, which last year raised $10,000 to support the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, of which Metivier is a major supporter.

Maybe the festival will even get an on-air shout out from another Monmouth College graduate who knows a thing or two about country music – Lon Helton’ 72, who hosts the nationally-syndicated radio show, Country Countdown USA.

More information about the Back Road Country Music Festival is available at
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