The door opened to the sound and recording business for Richard J. Peck in 1976 when Geneva High School band director Henry Pinter invited him to record the high school band concerts.
"It was an opportunity that started my passion for getting into the live sound and recording business," Peck said.
Fast forward 38 years, Peck has had opportunities to provide sound for national and international entertainers including, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, The Silk Road Project and jazz artists Sonny Rollins and Maynard Ferguson, as well as cultural events.
"I have worked with people from all over the world," Peck said.
In 1976, Peck recorded the Geneva High School Jazz Band at Central Stage on South Third Street during Swedish Days where he continues to provide the sound systems for the community festival and other events throughout the year in Geneva.
"Swedish Days is the event where I enjoy seeing people that I know," he said.
"The location for the musical entertainment in front of the Old Kane County Courthouse has been a unique venue where people have enjoyed coming to hear music," Peck said.
From the behind-the-scenes perspective, Peck said the festival has always been an extremely well organized event that focuses on local talent and volunteer organizations.
"It is unique how Geneva all these years has been able to keep the festival local with different events and talent as well as the volunteer-based food booths set up in the downtown."
Peck has the same appreciation for up-and-coming young artists as he does for the national and international stars he has worked with over the decades.
He has provided sound for Geneva's Got Talent held during Swedish Days for the past three years.
"I feel the young entertainers should have the same quality sound and attention expected by the major performing artists," he said.
Peck also provides sound systems for Geneva's annual Festival of the Vine, Christmas Walk and Geneva High School graduation commencements and high school musicals.
Peck was born and raised in St. Charles and now lives in Geneva. He moved to Geneva in 1979 and lived on the second floor of 318 S. Third St., currently Grahams 318 Coffeehouse.
"It was cool to live in the downtown and see the daytime's hustle and bustle and the nighttime's tranquillity. I still love going downtown, working and living in Geneva."
Peck started his company R/J Recording and Sound in 1976. Over the years he has provided sound and engineering for the World Music Festival in Chicago, The Field Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of Mexican Art, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. He has worked with such artists as Dennis DeYoung, the Ides of March and Davis Gaines. The performing groups he has recorded have received 25 Grammys and a DownBeat Award.
He is accustomed to working behind-the-scenes, so when he was informed that he was selected to be the 2014 Swedish Days Parade Grand Marshal he was taken aback.
"I was extremely surprised and thought there were many other people more deserving of the honor," Peck said. "I am honored to have been selected," he said.
Peck said he has been blessed to train and work with many people in his company over the decades who have gone on to become sought-after sound engineers in the industry.
The Grand Parade, on June 22, is marshaled by Viking Service Organization and coordinated and funded by Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
The Swedish Days Festival presented by Cadence Health runs through Sunday June 22, in downtown Geneva.
For more information on the Geneva Chamber festival, visit genevachamber.com/swedish_days.php.