DeKALB – Paul Wenzel, frontman for the Toby Keith tribute band Made in America, said he's traveled to many places with the band and performed in larger venues like the House of Blues in Chicago since the band was formed in July, but their performance on May 19 will be his first time in DeKalb County.
And, Wenzel said he finds that smaller towns tend to have more country fans.
"We go to towns like that because it's real people," Wenzel said. "It's country fans. It's Americana."
Wenzel will adopt the Keith persona at his show at 7:30 p.m. May 19 at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St. Tickets for the show range in price from $25 to $35 and are available online at egyptiantheatre.org or by phone at 815-758-1215.
Wenzel said he originally played in another band and is a huge Toby Keith fan himself. He said he always loved Keith's shows and he wanted to try something different as a musician – such playing in a similar 12-piece band as Keith's.
Wenzel said a lot of current country music places a large emphasis on girls, beer and trucks. Having familiy members that are veterans, like his grandfather that fought in World War II in Pearl Harbor and survived, he said he also likes to make a point in honoring them at his shows to add a sense of patriotism to the performance.
"I love being able to put on shows that hit home for people," Wenzel said.
Jeanine Holcomb, head of marketing and communications at the Egyptian Theatre, said the band approached the theater about doing a show. It's not the first time country acts or cover bands have played at the historic theater, she said, but it's the first time this band has performed there.
But from what she's seen, Holcomb said, the band's performance is very similar to Keith's.
"If you are a Toby Keith fan, this is definitely the show for you," Holcomb said.
She said recent tribute shows have done very well at the Egyptian Theatre and thought Made in America would be a good fit for the theater.
Plus, Holcomb said, it's a much less expensive opportunity to see Made in America here as opposed to spending money for tickets and parking to see Keith himself perform at Soldier Field.
"Here, you don't have to pay to park and it's right in your hometown," she said. "It's a lot cheaper ticket."
Wenzel said audience members can expect a lot of energy and a lot of powerful, old-fashioned country at a Made in America show. He said the band is made of perfectionists and tries to capture the history sensibilities that Keith has in his music, like adding horns and pedal steel to its instrumentation.
"It's all the good things that country used to be, but with a modern twist," Wenzel said.