Kid Rock bringing big sound to small Illinois town

Kid Rock will be taking the stage Friday in Illinois, but not in Chicago like he did at the United Center and House of Blues in 2011.

No, the “Cowboy” and “All Summer Long” rocker will be performing on the Illinois Valley Regional Airport’s tarmac in Peru — about 100 miles southwest of Chicago with a population of 10,295.

The show is part of the biannual Concerts for a Cause series created and organized by Lou’s LaGrotto in Peru. The Italian restaurant — which bills itself as the “home of the famous deep pan pizza” — first hosted the concert series in its parking lot in 2005 as a way to say thank you to the community for keeping it in business for 30 years.

That concert featured Blues Traveler and cost $5 (according to Lou’s co-owner Merry Noonan, the city asked her to charge because of crowd control concerns). The concerts have featured well-known acts such as Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson, Big Time Rush, Alan Jackson, Sugarland and Jason Aldean and have been moved to the airport to accommodate the larger crowds.

Tickets for Kid Rock, which Noonan calls her biggest get, are $58. A small number of Kid Rock die-hards camped out overnight in April to get first crack at the general admission tickets, but plenty of tickets are still available.

“I’ve always liked Kid Rock,” Noonan said. “I’ve been going after him and Keith Urban for years. … I wasn’t sure if maybe the (Peru) community would get upset, but he’s a crossover artist. He has a country side, a rock side and a rap side.”

Every year, one of the two Concerts for a Cause donates a portion of the proceeds to a school while the other show donates to a charity. A portion of the proceeds from the Kid Rock concert will be used to buy computers for Trinity Catholic Academy in LaSalle. In past years, money has gone to textbooks, computer desks, care packages for troops and a playground. Noonan estimates $400,000 has been raised.

“The schools write us and tell us why they should benefit,” Noonan said. “The one that touches our hearts the most or needs (the donations) the most gets picked. In return, they give us volunteers for the shows."

Noonan said she has lost money and barely broken even paying for acts and other concert-related costs in the past but has still managed to deliver on the requested donations, thanks in part to sponsors. She calls the charity work addicting and said she enjoys bringing artists to locals who normally have to travel more than an hour to Joliet or Peoria to see nationally known acts.

“We’re a small town,” Noonan said. “The number of people who come to these shows is bigger than the number of people who live in Peru.”

Twitter @aboutluisgomez

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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