Take a ride with Cassandra and the Gravel Road Band

Local band one of many performers at Woodstock's Pickle Palooza this weekend

Cassandra and the Gravel Road Band
Cassandra and the Gravel Road Band

For the roughly 20 years Cassandra Vohs-Demann has been performing, her music has always had a purpose.

The Woodstock native will take the stage with Cassandra and the Gravel Road Band at 4 p.m. June 9 as part of Pickle Palooza, a two-day music festival beginning June 8 at the McHenry County Fairgrounds on Country Club Road in Woodstock.

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A singer and songwriter, Vohs-Demann’s music is known throughout the area for its ability to inspire others.

She has donated songs as background music to videos created by Pioneer Center for Human Services, a charitable organization that provides services to those with disabilities, the homeless and others.

A professional opera singer in her 20s, Vohs-Demann left that world to write and perform her own music. She’s been performing throughout the Chicago area and teaching private voice lessons ever since.

“As a musician, I’ve always been focused on using it for some kind of purpose,” she said. “If that means helping people heal from loss, work through personal things or just empowering them to believe in themselves, that’s always been what my connection is... The more I realize that for myself and share that with the world, the more people are affected.”

Her song “Here I Am” has received attention in Nashville, earning spot No. 3 on the Indie Charts for Women of Substance Radio in January.

Her CD, “Here I Am,” is available on iTunes and Pandora.

The album’s title track has become a sort of anthem for women.

“I wrote it because I really wanted people to embrace who they are and not feel like they have to apologize all the time,” she said. “And I think especially women do that a lot.”

She describes her music as “kind of rock, but definitely influenced by a lot of artists.”

Some of her favorites growing up were Elton John, the Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, with the southern rock influence stemming from older siblings.

“A lot of my roots come from really ’70s rock,” she said.

Vohs-Demann has been compared to Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Adele and Sara Mclachlan.

She mainly writes based on personal experiences, saying in the beginning, her music served as “an escape, a place to go for therapy.”

Vohs-Demann still performs every few months in Nashville during writer’s nights there.

But her home is Woodstock, she said. And she’s thrilled to be part of the upcoming festival, which she said belongs in town.

“I’m at a place in my career, at 42 years old, where it’s really more about substance and the quality of the experience than it is quantity,” she said. “I want my audience to feel like they’re being inspired by something...

“My goal as a singer and musician is to try to create a niche where I am and make a difference where I am. If that means the Midwest, that’s where it is.”

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