Country musician Ty Bates' Geneseo Music Festival debut didn't exactly go as planned in 2012.
A summer thunderstorm changed his scheduled performance in the city park into a small acoustic set on the park bandshell stage.
"We don't get the chance to do that kind of performance too often," said Bates.
Though the concert was non-traditional, it marked the start of a special year for Bates and his band.
"We were playing at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., the next day," said Bates.
The Bluebird Cafe is a Nashville venue known for its acoustic country sets.
"We got lucky and basically were able to use the Geneseo performance as an extra practice. It helped us out a lot for the next day," said Bates. "It was pretty cool to have the audience on stage (in the bandshell), right up next to us."
Bates and his band have been performing on college campuses this past year as part of the Honky Tonkin' University Tour. They also were signed by Red Light Management.
"That's actually a big deal. They manage Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Luke Bryan ... basically anyone big," said Bates.
"Last year was really good for us, and it all sort of caught fire after we played in Geneseo. We've had a lot of momentum, and we like to think Geneseo had a little part in that," he said.
Bates is headlining the 2013 Geneseo Music Festival with a June 15 performance in the city park. Bates' free concert will start at 6:30 p.m. Geneseo High School will serve as the rain location.
"Last time, everyone was so nice and generous to us. The band's excited about coming back, too. They had a great time last year," explained Bates.
A native of Georgia, music has been a part of Bates' life for "a long, long time."
"When I was a kid, I would sing at churches and flea markets," he said.
After high school, Bates moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to start his music career. He then moved to Nashville, his current home base.
"Music is such a huge adrenaline rush. The cool thing about music is it's so much a part of you. It's not like a painting where you can paint a picture and then walk away. When you sing, even though it may be the same song, every time you sing it's a different experience," he observed.
Bates was named the Georgia Country Artist of the Year in 2011, and though he has performed throughout the southeast, he admits performing in northwestern Illinois is a bit of a rarity.
Page 2 of 2 - "We like to have as many people as possible hear our music, and if we get a chance to do something different in a different market, we jump at it," he said.
Bates first learned of the Geneseo Music Festival through Molly Hamer and her family — longtime friends of Bates and his family.
"We've always kept in touch, and when they mentioned an opportunity (to play in Geneseo), we were excited to play somewhere new," said Bates.
"We don't play a whole lot of town events and festivals, so it's a different thing for us whenever we get to do that," he said.
Because of the distance from Nashville to Geneseo, Bates and his band opt to take advantage of the entire Music Festival weekend.
"A lot of times, if we're performing in one place, we end up having to leave and go to the location almost immediately. (In Geneseo), we get to come and hang out. It's more of a social experience for us," he said.
"Last year, the parade and the entire weekend was a lot of fun. Geneseo is about the nicest town as far as the people are concerned, and we enjoyed just having a good time," said Bates.
His show on June 15 will be a "high-energy show."
"We like to get the crowd involved as much as possible," said Bates.