Few things are as satisfying to music fans than discovering the next big thing before they hit mainstream audio waves. Since 2013, Windy City Smokeout has introduced Chicago to country music’s rising stars before they become household names. Here’s a look back at some of country music’s biggest names who have graced Windy City Smokeout’s stage and the inside scoop on two rising stars to watch out for at this year’s festival (July 14-16, 2017).

The man behind Windy City Smokeout’s unmatched music lineup is Ed Warm, partner in award-winning Joe’s on WeedJoe’s LiveBub City and ACM Promoter of the Year (2013, 2015). With a knack for spotting country music’s rising stars, Warm continues to bring up-and-coming talent to Windy City Smokeout’s stage for the fifth year.

A view of Windy City Smokeout from backsage with the crowd going crazy.

“As the festival continues to grow, we’re proud to have maintained our reputation of showcasing artists who are on the cusp of greatness,” said Warm. “We’ve seen talent walk off our stage and go on to win ACM’s, CMA’s and Grammy’s. This year’s lineup will be no different and we’re thrilled to offer the same level of promising talent as year’s past.”

Marin Morris on stage at the Windy City Smokeout

Brett Eldredge, Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris and Old Dominion are among the notable artists who have graced the Smokeout stage. Eldredge, who played the inaugural festival, went on to win CMA’s Best New Artist of the Year award the following year; after his 2015 performance, Stapleton went on to win three CMA awards including Male Vocalist of the Year and two Grammy’s including Best Country Album. Old Dominion joined Windy City Smokeout’s lineup for two consecutive years before winning ACM Group of the Year and securing multiple CMA nominations. Recently named “country’s newest darling,” Morris won CMA’s Best New Artist award mere months after her 2016 Windy City Smokeout performance and has continued to rise to the top, recently winning the Grammy award for Best Solo Country Music performance.

With a track record like this, it’s no surprise Windy City Smokeout continues to attract country music’s rising stars. Luke Combs and Ryan Hurd are two of the acts to watch for 2017. Combs has taken the country music industry by literal storm as his single, “Hurricane” off his self-funded album, This One’s for You, has already become one of the country anthems of the year. His debut album will be released come time for Windy City Smokeout, making this a performance Chicago’s country fans won’t want to miss.

Singer holding a microphone and singing to the crowd

Hurd is a well-known singer and songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen and Tim McGraw. He’s now lending his own voice to the songs he’s written and he’s landed on Rolling Stone Country’s list of “Artists You Need to Know” list and CMT named him one of their “Listen Up” artists of 2016.

Windy City Smokeout will return for its fifth consecutive year on Grand Avenue and the Chicago River on July 14-16, 2017. To purchase single and three day passes, and to view the full music and barbecue lineups, visit windycitysmokeout.com. To stay updated on the latest festival news, follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Year-round, fans can see country music’s rising stars at the award-winning Joe’s on Weed, Bub City and Joe’s Live.