Nashville is home to many influential country stars. It's a place that can make or break a career.
That's why the suburban natives who make up the country/pop band The August decided to make Nashville their home base.
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The August• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at the Antioch Band Shell, 900 Skidmore Drive, Antioch. Free. egovlink.com/antioch.
• 8 p.m. Friday, July 27 at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 East Peterson Road, Grayslake. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children and seniors. lcfair.com.
"We kind of fell into playing country," says Wojtek Krupka, bassist and former resident of Lake Villa. "There's something about the story telling and the melodic style of country that we really like."
Now the band is heading home to play the Antioch Band Shell on July 26 and the Lake County Fair in Grayslake the next day.
"We like to come back to play around Chicago every three or four months to play for our main fan base," Krupka says.
Also part of The August are drummer and fellow Lake Villa native Tim Good, lead singer Jacky Dustin of Arlington Heights and Cameron Clarke, who signed on in Nashville.
The original three suburbanites have played together in different forms since high school, but it wasn't until 2006 when they came together to form The August. Krupka says they share similar goals.
"We had that drive, that passion for music inside us, and that's what brought us together," he explains.
Early on, Good and Krupka worked as substitute teachers in Lake Villa and Antioch to make ends meet, with a music career as their ultimate dream.
"Music is always what I've wanted to do, and that's why I decided to be a substitute teacher," Krupka says. "I could teach when I had time between gigs and then stop when I needed to play."
In 2009, at the advice of a producer, the band headed to Nashville to compete with hundreds of other acts trying to get a piece of the country music pie.
"It was awesome to be closer to the music scene," Krupka says. "We love Chicago but in Nashville everyone knows someone in the music business."
The band has recorded two albums: "The Uptown Sessions" and "Dear Chicago, Love Nashville." They have another in the works.
The August was invited to compete in the first Greenbrier Resort's Got Country Class competition in West Virginia this past April. They ended up placing first out of hundreds of contestants.
Winning the national competition reinforced the band's decision to move to Nashville.
"It was a humbling experience," says Krupka. "We got to compete out there against so many acts, we thought we'd end up in second or third place behind some really good bands."
The win earned the band $5,000 and the chance to open for Toby Keith and Lionel Richie at the Greenbrier Classic on the Fourth of July.
"It was amazing -- the biggest concert we've ever played, the biggest I've even been to," Krupka says. "We got to hang out with Lionel and Toby after the show; they're both super cool and down to earth."