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This year’s music lineup sees up-and-comers, seasoned stars and downright entertainers. Here’s a primer on how – and who – to listen to bringing the hype to this year’s Windy City Smokeout. Be sure to check out below for your full, free playlist, courtesy of Spotify.
“In Case You Didn’t Know” – Brett Young
Young’s bona fide hit might be his most tender track, and that’s perfect. It’s love gone right. What’s not to like?
“The Long Way” – Brett Eldredge
Pointed, paced and authentic — Eldredge paints a picture of a helplessly awestruck man and the love interest that leaves him wanting more. “Take me the long way around your town,” he pleads. We’re left wanting more time with this song, too.
“It Ain’t My Fault” – Brothers Osborne
This 2016 chart-topper provides the perfect punch of folksiness, fun and pure renegade-ery. One listen and you’ll be dancing in anticipation of Brothers Osborne’s fest-closing Sunday night set.
“Drinkin’ Problem” – Midland
Midland often follows a familiar beer-drinking formula in their traditional approach, and “Drinkin’ Problem” excels as a classic good-times anthem.
“That Ain’t Country” – Aaron Lewis
This tattooed, formerly alt-metal vocalist works with heavy nostalgia as he paints a portrait of his ideal country day. We’re here for it.
“7 & 7” – Turnpike Troubadours
An Oklahoman collective, TT has a distinctly grassroots sound. It’s on full display with “7 & 7,” a genuine jam about better times past with the hope that one day those times will return. TT’s Sunday night set will make sure of that.
“The Best Is Yet to Come” – Drake White and the Big Fire
Pieces’s standout track has a palpable energy to it, fully displaying White’s dynamic influence. We hear elements of country, blues, rock & roll and reggae, resulting in a fresh sound that seems more than stage-ready.
“A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” – Ashley McBryde
With her catchy lyricism and booming voice, McBryde is, quite simply, poised for big things. On this track, she shows her skillful ability to make the local into something universal; we’ve all had our Dahlonega, Georgia.
“What Ifs” – Kane Brown
This hit topped almost every country music chart at one point in 2017, no surprise with its melodic hook complemented by Brown’s robust vocals.
“With You I Am” – Cody Johnson
Johnson is bringing his heavily Southern twang to Chicago on Friday afternoon, seemingly ready to set a romantic mood with tracks like this one, an unapologetic declaration of commitment to the one who catches his eye.
“Runnin’ With An Angel” – Riley Green
Initially feeling upbeat, it quickly becomes clear that this is a song about breakup. That only makes it more profound, a resonant and brutally honest rock ballad.
“Shut Up Kenny” – Walker Hayes
Here the singer pens a direct note to Kenny – yes, Chesney – lamenting the often harsh relatability of the country icon’s music. Hayes’s poppy style makes for a quirky confession that also comes off as uniquely vulnerable. Maybe Chesney will listen one day, but for now, we’re all intently listening to Hayes.
While these 12 acts are sure to kill it, there are plenty of other artists ready to hold down the stage. Check out the rest of the gems at the festival by listening to Windy City Smokeout’s curated playlist:
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