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Meet the Highway 309 LIVE openers: emily the band

emily the band, 3 piece girl group
The members of emily the band, from left, Cami Proctor, Emily Antonacci, and Abbey Haste.

WGLTs new concert series Highway 309 LIVE presented by CEFCU debuts this Monday at the Normal Theater. Rising Nashville Americana star Jaimee Harris headlines the show. Opening is Peoria's three-piece queer girl group, emily the band.

WGLT's Ariele Jones caught up with band members Abbey Haste, Cami Proctor, and Emily Antonacci about how the band wants to be perceived by its audience, and about being based in Peoria.

Proctor outlined the advantages to being Midwest-based.

Proctor: Because you're just equally far away from so many major places and major cities and really cool states, being so centrally located, that you kind of feel like you could go anywhere. You could go in any direction and end up in a really cool place and play some really cool music.

WGLT: With WGLT doing this Highway 309 LIVE event for the first time and with you being the opener, what kind of emily the band experience do you want people to have?

Antonacci: I think we always love it to be like fun and fresh. And with it being a Pride event, we don't have to hold back the queer girl group side of our identity. I'm excited to warm up the crowd and kind of get that fun, open, accepting atmosphere going.

Highway 309 LIVE is all about the live performances, but we are also adding in this piece of having the artists in conversation. We are hoping to get to know you all better. So to kick that off, let's talk about music and who has been the most influential on your music style.

Haste: I think mine is the drummer Benny Greb, because just growing up his drum transcriptions were always difficult but not difficult enough to where I couldn't play it slowly. And they're also really, really fun, so that was kind of what I grew up playing it along to the most.

Proctor: I have two people that come to mind — two really, really awesome guitarists. The first is Madison Cunningham and then also Melanie Faye. They're both just really badass femme guitarists. I saw Madison Cunningham was shown to me by one of my old guitar teachers, because he was like, you need you need some femmes to look up to, I need to show you how many, you know, awesome fem people are out here, just shredding. And then Melanie Faye … she's just amazing. And it's it's so cool, especially with Melanie Faye to see another like black femme shredding and she just has such a unique style of playing.

Antonacci: Dodie. Dodie Clark. Literally our first song "Messy," I was just, I am Dodie, I am ukulele, I am yellow album cover; this is me. Her ability to make ukulele sound so versatile has been huge for me, because I think sometimes people can get stuck in kind of a rut with ukulele. Yeah, Dodie was huge in showing me that ukulele sound and songs can be so many different things.

What is one thing you would want an audience member to know about emily the band?

Proctor: We are a girl band. And with all of us being femme and I would want any women or femme people or non-binary people that are in the audience, I always like want to kind of invite them to really be a part of things and also show them like, hey, if you ever want to be in a band, if you play an instrument, if you write songs, if you sing, if you play drums, you totally can do that. You are like welcome here and you are welcome to share your music with the world because it can be hard to see yourself in the music scene.

Antonacci: I always want an audience member to connect. I feel like I use song-write to a very specific feeling, setting, emotion, person. But when an audience member can hear my lyrics and then apply them to their own life and have that affect them, that's my favorite thing in the world.

Haste: Just knowing that we love music as much as everyone else and we love playing and showing our music and just to know that when we're playing, that's kind of our goal. We just want everyone to have a good time, have fun, and just enjoy our music and that everyone feels welcome, everyone feels safe. There are no expectations. There's nothing you need to worry about. You can just come to our shows, and you can just have a fun time and just enjoy the music.

Abbey Haste, Cami Proctor, and Emily Antonacci are emily the band. The trio opens WGLT's inaugural Highway 309 LIVE presented by CEFCU this Monday night at the Normal Theater. It's a Pride Month celebration with live performances and conversations with the performers. More info and tickets at wglt.org/live.

Ariele Jones is WGLT's assistant program director and host of Morning Edition, Highway 309, and Center Stage.