RANTOUL, Ill. — Ask Wes Wheeler what he loves about his band and he’ll literally give a concert full of reasons.
The Battle Creek Band is bursting with music of all kinds — country, oldies, rock and gospel.
But the band also has a signature stage presence thanks to the humor they weave into every performance.
“We do play a lot of what I call retro country, but we like to keep everything upbeat and add in some comedy in there,” Wheeler said.
Even their band member introductions offer a taste of fun.
There’s Wes Wheeler on guitar and vocals, as well as “pickin’, singin’ and bad jokes.”
Steve “Spanky” Reynolds — aka “Big Hair and Big Bass” — is on bass and vocals.
“Wild” Bill Moore is “King of the Hillbilly Shuffle” and plays drums and does vocals.
And then there’s Mike Spaeth. He is the band’s “Secret Weapon,” but sometimes also is known as “Twisted Steel” with his steel guitar.
These guys have been playing together since 1985. They’ve also played all of the Half Century of Progress shows.
“We tend to play a lot of tractor shows, fairs and agritainment places,” Wheeler said. “We’re well suited for farmers.”
With their own renditions of familiar country music, their shows are family friendly with elements from Branson Theater and The Grand Ole Opry.
This is not to say they don’t have their own original songs or play some oldies rock ‘n’ roll.
“We love the music we play and it shows,” their website says.
Here’s a sampling of the country music they play: Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Roger Miller, Charlie Rich, Johnny Cash, Eddie Rabbitt, George Strait, Dwight Yoakam, Waylon Jennings, Alabama, Johnny Paycheck and many, many others.
As for that rock genre, they play such artists as CCR, Eagles, Tom Petty, Georgia Satellites, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Beatles, Johnny Rivers, Chuck Berry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Buddy Holly and Bill Haley & The Comets.
Back Paiges Band
Everyone will hear favorites from the 1950s and 1960s with the Back Paiges Band.
This band has been taking center stage since 1992. With six members from central Illinois, they can rock, two step and swing.
On lead guitar is Jim Stone from Aroma Park; keyboards and vocals is Jim Yoder from Forrest; bass guitar and vocals is Jim Williams from Park Forest; guitar and more vocals by Tedd King from Loda; drum is Frank Zumwalt from Watseka; and with vocals and percussion is Mike Krumwiede from Paxton.
Here’s a sample of their popular tunes: “Hold on Loosely,” “House of the Rising Sun,” “Summer of ‘69,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” “No Matter What,” “Surfin’ USA,” “Margaritaville” and much more.