Steven Tyler of Aerosmith will be the headline act this June for Laconia Fest. Tickets will go on sale soon at www.laconiafest.com. (Courtesy photo)
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — What was just a rumor last year has become a hard reality this year with the announcement today that Steven Tyler will headline LaconiaFest when he takes the stage with Loving Mary, his Nashville band, during the 93rd running of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
For Tyler, the show will mark a homecoming. As a child, he summered on the shore of Lake Sunapee, where he met the players of Joe Perry's Jam Band, which became Aerosmith – among the most iconic, fractious and enduring bands of the past 45 years. Known as the "Demon of Screamin'" for his vocal range spanning four octaves, his on-stage acrobatics and flamboyant presence, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Aerosmith in 2001.
In recent years, Tyler, now 67, has turned to country vibes and will be performing with Loving Mary, his band rooted in Nashville.
"I think country is the new rock 'n roll," Tyler told "Rolling Stone" last June shortly after releasing a single, "Love Is Your Name," which reached number 19 on the Hot Country Songs chart. "Red, White & You," a second single, followed in January, peaking at number 29 on the chart, and his first country album is expected in May.
Interviewed by "Rolling Stone" about about his transition, Tyler recalled listening to the likes of the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and Duane Eddy during summers in New London with his radio wired to an apple tree.
"Country's not just about porches, dogs and kicking my boots up," he said. "It's a whole lot more."
Loving Mary, described by "Billboard as "a band of roaming country Gypsies, rocking out on an idyllic prairie somewhere unknown," has been backing Tyler for more than a year. Suzi McNeil, a Canadian singer-songwriter, brought the band together in 2014, joining with Marti Frederiksen, Elisha Hoffman and Rebecca Lynn Howard, and soon adding Andrew McTaggart and Sarah Tomek. When Tyler began his odyssey, he turned to Frederiksen, who had written songs with Tyler and Aerosmith since 1990s.
Laconia will be among the early stops on Tyler's tour in support of his first country album. However, Laurie DiGiovanni , producer of LaconiaFest, said that along with country tunes, including his recently released single "Red, White & You," Tyler will pull a few pages from the Aerosmith's songbook.
Motorcycle Week will be an especially appropriate venue for Tyler, a longtime rider who in 2007 launched Dirico Motorcycles, designed by Tyler himself, engineered by Mark Dirico and built in Manchester.
Tyler and Loving Mary will perform on Wednesday, June 15. DiGiovanni said that tickets will go on sale shortly.
LaconiaFest will be held at the Weirs Beach Drive-In Theater from June 11 to 19, when more than 100 artists will perform on two stages from noon to midnight on two stages. A complete list of those scheduled to perform as well as tickets and information can be found at LaconiaFest.com.