By Doug Schroder


BYRON – When I started out for Byron around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, a light, but steady, rain began falling. As I drove along I was hoping the rain would let up soon. To pass the time I popped in local band Desolation Row’s three song CD and listened to it over and over, wondering where the band was playing that night as they weren’t scheduled to play at ByronFest.

Upon arrival in Byron I found a parking spot next to the fire station and close to the game wagons. The rain was still coming down so I sought refuge under the awnings of the games. Besides the carnies, there were only two people in the area. Low and behold it was Jared Hoey, drummer for Desolation Row, and his girlfriend, Alexis Leon. After exchanging greetings with them, I found out that Desolation Row had the weekend off, one of the few the band has through the remainder of the year. Jared and I talked about some of the bands playing at ByronFest, and a little about Desolation Row, before he and Alexis departed to catch a movie in Rockford. The two of them had volunteered at the ByronFest ticket booth on Friday and Saturday.

The rain was still falling, so I went over to one of the vendor wagons and got a corndog, seeking shelter under the wagon’s short awning. A couple from Davis Junction, IL were there also, so I struck up a conversation and learned that the woman’s name was Kerri Fisher, which immediately made me think of Princess Lia from Star Wars. There was no correlation between her name and Star Wars. She was actually named after a relative. After finishing our food we parted ways.

I headed over to the Taste of ByronFest to check out the other dining faire. After perusing the different vendors I decided on some tacos from the Taco Express Wagon. The rain continued falling, so I stayed under the awning from the Taco Express truck. The owner of the truck, Ricardo Montanez, told me about the seasonings and everything he makes comes from his grandmother’s recipes. The tacos were good!

After having my fill of food, I made it over to the Carnival Stage, where The Stevee Nix band was playing. The rain continued down, while I managed to get a few pictures of the band. When the band came out for their second set they had American Idol contestant Abby Alton, from Roscoe, IL, join the band and sing. Abby is the stepdaughter of Stevee Nix lead singer Nick Bertolino. Boy does she have a set of pipes on her! She and the band finished with a great rendition of a Rolling Stones song.

By the time the main act for the night, a Led Zepplin tribute band known as Kashmir, started the rain had ceased, and the crowd grew. Kashmir put on a really good show, playing those old Led Zep songs right on. I was surprised by the age diversity in the crowd. There were more of the younger age group than I thought there would be, that being those who were born after Led Zepplin quit making new songs.

The Kashmir band member who portrayed Jimmy Paige did a fantastic job of portraying the guitar master. At two different points during the show he even went out into the audience and continued to play as he made his way through the crowd. A video of one of his strolls can be seen at under the Tempo section.

Kashmir played for a long time. Remembering that there was another act going on on the Festival Stage, I wandered over that way. By the time I got there country star Mo Pitney had already finished his show and had his fans in line where he was signing autographs. I snapped a few pictures and then proceeded home.

The ride home was dry and Saturday night turned out all right at ByronFest 2015.

Dirksen-Pitney 1 for web

Michael Dirksen, the kitchen manager at Benton Street Diner in Winnebago, was at ByronFest on Saturday, July 11, to see country star Mo Pitney perform. Michael waited in line after the concert to get Mo’s autograph and got a picture with the star.


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